Sex Robots

Technology vs. Flesh-and-Blood Lovers

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

There’s a scene in the new movie Her in which Samantha, the sultry-voiced computer operating system of the film’s title, talks up the benefits of being nonhuman.

“I’m not limited,” purrs Scarlett Johansson as the artificially intelligent heroine. “I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. I’m not tethered to time and space in the way that I would be if I was stuck inside a body that’s inevitably going to die.”

Starshine Roshell

I’ll bet she never feels bloated, either. Or insists on switching over to Downton Abbey when the game’s gone into overtime. Or complains about the lingering lunchy onion stench on the breath of Theo, the lonely divorcé who buys Samantha and falls in love with her.

Both onscreen and off, modern society is flirting with the notion that technology can satisfy us in ways that flesh-and-blood lovers can’t.

Don’t believe me? Check out, set to launch this Valentine’s Day. For a monthly fee, the company will conjure up “believable virtual and real-world proof” that you have a girlfriend. Yup. You can order up voice mails, text messages, social-media interaction, cards, and even flowers from a nonexistent female in order to, say, convince a roommate you’re not gay, put an end to a coworker’s come-ons, or get your nagging parents off your back.

Once upon a time, it was embarrassing even to admit that you met your girlfriend through an Internet dating site. But now that we’ve all been to weddings of couples who met online, it seems we no longer want technology to help us find our partners; we want technology to be our partners — to fulfill the needs for which we’ve always sought human lovers. To understand us and keep us company. To prove to all the world that we’re lovable. And of course (gulp), for sexual satisfaction.

“I think it’s inevitable that sex robots become, like, a thing,” says my friend Matt Allen. “For better or worse.”

Matt’s sort of an expert on the subject. He cowrote a YouTube series called Jon Davis Gets a Sex Robot, a naughty sitcom-y romp about a guy who convinces his wife to let him buy a walking, talking pleasure appliance — and the wacky marital hijinks that ensue.

I’ll spare you the links, but trust me when I say there are already mechanical and even virtual-reality devices on the market that simulate intercourse for those who … well, who’d rather not have to pay for dinner and drinks. Or be charming. Or bathe.

Is that a bad thing? Not inherently, I think. The world’s a better place when everyone’s needs are met, and who really gives a slutty cyborg how they do it?

“There’s nothing morally wrong with it per se,” agrees Matt, who’s given the issue more thought than a married father of two young girls probably should (his wife says he can’t have a sex robot, for what it’s worth). “But I do think it’s going to make male-female relationships in the far future extremely different — and not in the best way.”

There’s, um, a best way?

“It’s going to increase the percentage of men who give up on the pressure of a real relationship,” he says, pointing to Japan’s current concern over the new generation of so-called “herbivore” men who are rejecting the pressures of careers and relationships — even forgoing sex. “That’s possible now, being gatherers rather than hunters. Think about it: If men could have all the sex they want without having a relationship, they would take it. Just like kids would take all the candy they could get.”

Sci-fi fans have long predicted a robot uprising that would undo humankind. Could society’s new love affair with computerized companions be the start?

“They warned us the robo-apocalypse was coming,” Matt says. “They didn’t tell us it would come in the form of sex robots. Surprise!”

Starshine Roshell is the author of the new Broad Assumptions.


Independent Discussion Guidelines‎ › Extreme‎
Some food for thought!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think it has way more to do with desperation than preference.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 10:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"If men could have all the sex they want without having a relationship, they would take it."

"...more to do with desperation than preference."

Both are truthful, yet not absolute.

Aside, now I know what industry could replace automotive manufacturing in Detroit....

equus_posteriori (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 10:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is the land of squares, where sitcom writers are experts. Enjoy while the ringmaster unveils.

spacey (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 11:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Think about it: If men could have all the sex they want without having a relationship, they would take it. Just like kids would take all the candy they could get.”

Really? Wow. If someone said something derogatory like this about women would they be called sexist? Feminists would have a field day. Call me old-fashioned but monogamy is still the best game in town. Just saying......

Georgy (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 8:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Being a man, I can indeed verify that most men- if given the opportunity to have all the sex they wanted " without consequence on or of a relationship they would indeed take it.
For better or worse, we men are biologically programmed to spread our seed far and wide, beit with a female or another man or some combination of the two. We are geysers who need to blow off steam on occasion or risk bursting the plumbing.

And while I do agree with Georgy about monogamy, there are different forms of monogamy as there are different forms of disloyalty. You can be sexually monogomous but disloyal to your partner in other ways. I'll take monogamy of the heart over someone's bodily fealty any day. Relationships built solely around sex really don't seem to last that long or be that happy.

The big pitfall to sex robots howver is the loss of human to human contact of which we seem to be forever losing as technology advnaces. That's the real problem, humans interacting less and less; that's whats increasing violence like mass shootings and other crimes and horrors, and narcissistic attitudes.

Instead of using technology to truly better humankind, too often than not we are using it to replace humanity. Sex robots are really just the next step in the societal empathy drop.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 9:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And let's not discount feminine desire as well, men aren't the only humans with sexual needs.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2014 at 10:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

is this what happens when feminism destroys manhood: (see American Boomerang: and turns women into bigoted wanna be 'men'? Thanks to feminism what we are watching is civilization committing suicide or so says that most manly (eg. truthful) of women, bisexual Camille Paglia. Sex robots are the least of our worries in an age of fascist gender-bigot robots.

Sealion (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2014 at 7:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: