For years, anxious and lonely men – and women — have despaired over their prospects of ever finding a love partner.
They can rest easy now.
Robotic love partners – dubbed “sexbots” – are finally here. And they’re more functional than ever.
Currently, Japan seems to be the market leader for manufacture and sales.
One of the most obvious advantages of a female sex-bot is that she is always available for sex and never takes no for an answer. She can also be made to perform lewd sex acts that a real-live partner might resist.
But is sex with a robot really enjoyable? Most consumers claim that it is.
In fact, some claim the sex-bots are better partners in bed than their spouses or girlfriends.
“It looks like a doll, but you feel as though it’s really alive. When you make love to your wife, there can be some problems. With a doll, none of that matters,” says one avid consumer.
Purchasing a sex-bot is not the only option for those seeking robotic liaisons.
Last year, Japan’s first sex-bot brothel opened to great fanfare. The venue promises “futuristic sex” and caters to men that want bisexual threesomes. It costs about $150 for a 60-minute session; some of the robots have vaginas, others, penises.
Customers can decide among various models and choose what they wear, too. For female models, clothing options include basic lingerie, schoolgirl outfit, fitness gear or executive.
Some robot developers say critics are overemphasizing sex as a motive for developing robotic companions. Some of those currently in use in Japan are designed to help with housework and child care, they note
In fact, science is still a long way off from creating fully functional sex robots. Artificial intelligence has allowed for more sophisticated body movements and facial expressions and some limited vocal capabilities.
But these sex-bots are not yet available on the market, mainly because of the exorbitant cost.
Last year, a Dutch company sold 2,000 sex-bots in Japan at prices only the super-wealthy could afford.
“I think that technological advances in this sector have to be looked at in the medium-long term since they require very advanced technology and mechanics,” notes one sex-bot developer.
Nevertheless, some sociologists and sexologists view the sex-bot trend with growing alarm. They fear it’s fueling a loss of emotional intimacy and a decline in commitment to real relationships.
Men are not the only prospective consumers of sex-bots. A UK-based company, Realbotix, has developed “Henry,” the first sex robot for women. Henry’s figure includes 6-pack abs and stubble on his cheek.
But Henry’s most compelling feature may be his “customizable penis,” which women can adjust to their personal tastes.
According to Henry’s developers, many prospective purchases say they are more interested in companionship than sex per se.
Female consumers also want a robot that will talk to them about their life concerns and meet their needs for genuine intimacy, the company says.
Thanks to the latest AI technology, some sex-bots are being programmed to match the needs and interests of their owners and to avoid topics that might lead to conflict or disagreement.
Could sex-bots eventually displace real-live partners? Not any time soon, but fears of their potential long-term impact are spreading.
In Japan, some alarmists already blame sexbots for the country’s declining birth rate. And there’s talk that many Japanese men are in danger of becoming sex-bot “addicts.”
Hysteria aside, there may well be a need to develop a new legal and regulatory framework to govern the sale and use of sex-bots.
In the United States, fear that some unscrupulous companies might produce sex robots in the image of children has already spurred congressional action.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill outlawing the manufacture and sale of child sex robots. Many states can be expected to follow suit.
And some localities have also moved to prohibit the opening of sexbot brothels like the ones currently operating in Japan as well as Spain and Italy.
At a community meeting before the city council in Houston, Texas in 2018, one attendee warned: “A business like this would destroy homes, families, finances of our neighbors and cause major community uproars in the city.”
For now, cost and technology barriers are still limiting the proliferation of sex-bots. But it’s probably only a matter of time before they gain greater acceptance.
In a 2017 survey, more than half of all Americans predicted that sex-bots would eventually become mainstream. And 40% admitted that they were interested in having sex with one.