Would you have sex with a robot?

It sounds like a far-fetched, and slightly creepy, sci-fi fantasy. But the reality is closer than you might think

Lucy Hunter Johnston
Wednesday 07 May 2014 15:06 BST

Fear of a robot taking over your job is growing. A One Poll survey just out says that 31 per cent of us suffer from this anxiety. Then again, it’s not all bad news when it comes to man and machine: 17 per cent of us would also happily hop into bed with them.

It’s a statistic that raises a number of questions. Is sex with a robot cheating? Would there be an age of consent? But perhaps the least obvious is: what do the other 83% have against the idea?

There is a vast niche world of technosexuals out there - yes, it’s a thing - with more subsets than Kew Gardens' orchid house. But let’s assume for the purposes of this column that your average sexy robot has no ‘real’ personality, looks and feels much like the genuine article, without being actually modelled on someone without their consent (there can’t be many things most disturbing than the thought of an army of vacant-eyed Kate Upton sex-bots being assembled in a factory line), and that the individual in question is simply seeking a physical release, rather than a lasting emotional connection.

What would make sex with this android any creepier than popping into Coco De Mer and picking up a We-Vibe? Both are machines that are designed to give sexual pleasure to the user on demand, one just seems to be rather more technologically advanced than the other.

The arrival of sexbots on the dating scene could even avoid a huge amount of emotional fall out; a robot is unlikely to be hurt if you don’t call them after a quick fumble. It’s a unilateral interaction that will never require manipulation or lies to persuade the other party into bed for one moment of, often one-sided, fleeting carnal pleasure.

If your average rampant lothario is planning on using another human being solely as an object, with no intention of forming an emotional connection, then is this robotic sexual experience so very different from sex with an actual machine? In fact, wouldn’t using a robot often be preferable? Imagine the drunk-dials to ex-partners and unplanned pregnancies that could be avoided if everyone had a clean, reliable robot waiting at home; chlamydia could become a disease of the past.

And thanks to your iPhone, you could be having sex with a robot a lot sooner than you might imagine. The constant need for advancement in smartphones has meant that the price of the components needed to make a robot is now about 1 per cent of what it was 20 years ago. There are even some prototypes already out there, albeit in a somewhat rudimental form.

In December a ‘virtual sex simulator’ was debuted in Japan, and ‘adult social network’ FriXion is currently searching for investors for its patented ‘bidirectional force feedback telemetry’ – a rather fancy-sounding description from what appears to be a vibrator that can be controlled remotely.

In 2012, two researchers at Melbourne’s Victoria University wrote a paper: “Robots, Men and Sex Tourism,” in which they made the case that robots would replace humans as sex workers by 2050, eliminating sex trafficking and the need for underground brothels. ‘Robot sex is safer sex, free from the constraints, precautions and uncertainties of the real deal’ they wrote.

Right now the idea seems rather far-fetched, not least because human life is still sickeningly so much cheaper than any machine, but it’ something that the 83 per cent might want to think about.

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