13 April 2013


A poll was recently conducted by Huffington Post and YouGov, exploring the public's attitudes toward allowing robots to engage in various services to humans ~ services ranging from cleaning our homes and caring for our elderly to fighting our wars.  Responses varied with the level of intimacy in the human-robot relationship, as well as with the age of the human respondents.

The robotic service which generated the greatest cognitive dissonance, and the most hesitation, was in the role of sex partner.  "18% of respondents indicated that they believed sexbots will be available by 2030.  9% indicated that they would have sex with a robot if they could .... Sex with a robot raised some thorny ethical questions, including whether a married person who hooked up with a robot would be guilty of infidelity."

Carrying the thought experiment one step further, Chris Matyszczyk at CNET speculates about the progeny of unions between fertile humans and fertile robots.  The ultimate hybrid.

Limiting our consideration to recreational sex for the moment, it seems to me that having a robot partner is just as harmless as any other sex toy.  Both genders pleasure themselves, whether or not they are in a committed relationship ~ manually or using vibrators, simulated genitalia, or sex dolls ~ and both genders fantasize about others while having sex with their partner.

Such pursuits are perfectly normal and healthy.  They only pose a problem if they begin to interfere with one's human relationship.  Having access to a sexbot carries the potential for a complication not unlike having access to a second human lover ~ that is, if feelings of attachment or love arise, then clearly there is a threat to the primary relationship.  Becoming accustomed to a particular form of arousal does happen, especially when it is experienced as exotic or illicit.

As always, deep and open communication is key, along with a clear commitment to one's partner above all else.  Accepting that as a given, I see no harm (and possibly a real enhancement) to the lives of those in relationships.  As for those not in relationships, the question becomes one of privacy and personal preference.

What about you?  If you were alone with a robot of your preferred gender, one which was realistic in appearance, correct in form and function, attractive, and programmed to be vocally and physically responsive, would you be tempted?  What about if you could alter its form or abilities in any way to heighten your pleasure ~ imagine intimacy with a sexy celebrity, or a figure from a dream, or an unrequited love, or one of the Navi from Avatar.  No guilt, no regrets, just pleasure tailored to your desires.  Could be fun.

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