You arrive home from a long day of work. Your partner greets you at the door with your favorite beverage, eases you into a chair, and massages your shoulders to get rid of the kinks accumulated by the day. Supper—healthy and one of your favorite meals—is already on the stove. After you eat—your partner spends that time telling you how well you look—you drink a cup of perfectly brewed coffee while the two of you discuss the latest news or movie or whatever topic you usually talk over. Your partner is relaxed and interested only in you, asking questions about your day, responding to your complaints, offering no complaints in return but only sympathy for you. This compliant creature then offers physical interest in you: stroking your thigh, kissing your lips, offering favors to you without complaint or disagreement, taking your hand and drawing you to the bedroom.
You are clearly desired just as you are, warts and all. Whether you are overweight or a smoker, whether you are highly intelligent or dumb as dirt, whether you are wealthy or poor, whether you are black, white, brown, or purple: none of these things matter.
What does matter is that your partner is a sexbot. Your partner is a robot designed to have sex with you.
In some ways, this partner sounds great, doesn’t it? You never have to give excuses as to where you have been or what you have been doing. You never have to justify your income or your lifestyle. You never have to engage in quarrels about how you have spent your wages or who you are seeing or even who you are in regards to a relationship. You can be a saint or a jerk. Your partner doesn’t care.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks.
First on the list, you are sleeping with a machine. Yes, someday soon the skin of that machine will be warm as human flesh, the body may belong exclusively to you, it may feel real, but that thing with which you share a bed is a machine.
And it is a machine programmed to have sex with you. To fornicate with you. But not to love you. It is not female. It is not male. You are having sex—not making love—with a machine. You can pretend all you like, but no matter how sophisticated, that thing you are in bed with is still just a computer programmed for sex.
This machine is not a person you can compliment or offend. It’s not a soul whom you can draw closer by your love or drive away by your terrible behavior. It’s not even the same as owning a dog or a cat, who love you for the affection you bestow. It’s a piece of plastic and wires programmed to offer you sex and self-esteem.
Question: does copulating with a robot make someone more fully human?
Some guys clearly want these robots. They want sex without the human factor.
Yet in the YouTube clip, one of the designers says that his sexbots will never replace human beings in relationships. “It will never happen,” he says. “It’s an alternative, not a replacement.”
How does this guy know “it will never happen?” And how are alternatives not replacements? So if Jim prefers his wife one night and Marsha the machine the next, it’s just an alternative? How does Jim explain that choice to his wife? Or to himself?
In this same video, we learn that thousands of Japanese males have online relationships with fictitious females, faux lovers who are there to fulfill their sexual needs, who make them feel important, and who don’t offer the emotional hassles of dealing with real human beings. Unmentioned, however, is the fact that Japan is facing a demographic collapse. Birthrates have fallen for thirty-seven years in a row.
When asked in the YouTube video, “What if people prefer virtual partners over real partners who are less than perfect?” another designer chuckles and replies, “We’re going to solve the population problem that way.”
Most of us alive today have an intimate involvement with machines. We live in sync with our computers. As I write this article, I am listening to music on my laptop, checking various bits of data from around the world, and typing these words.
Have we now reached the point where we intend to take our machines to bed and copulate with them? Apparently so.
It’s October as I write these words, and October brings to mind the writings of Ray Bradbury. One of Bradbury’s titles is Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Something Wicked is not just coming.
[Image Credit: OpenCulture]
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.