Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Michael Abrahams | Sex with robots

Published:Monday | October 2, 2017 | 12:23 AM

Move over, dildos, vibrators and inflatable dolls, and make way for the ultimate sex toys: sex robots. These lifelike dolls with artificial intelligence (AI) are gaining in popularity. They are manufactured in a variety of body shapes and skin tones, with prices ranging from US$3,000 to US$50,000.

Supporters of the sex robot industry claim that the sexbots may provide benefits to the society, including reducing sex trafficking, preventing sexually transmitted infections, and even potentially replacing traditional sex work. Indeed, robo-whoring has already begun, as Europe opened its first sex-robot brothel in Barcelona in February this year.

Sex dolls could also help men with certain types of sexual dysfunctions. For example, they could create a bridge towards real-life sex for men who are used to only ejaculating through masturbation.

They can also assist those who are socially awkward and lacking in self-confidence to have pleasurable sexual experiences. For example, a man can have a penis the size of an AAA battery, but programme his robot to say, “Ooh, you are so HUGE!!! Please take your time.” Or, he could cross the finish line faster than Usain Bolt did in Beijing, and programme her to holler, “Wow! What a marathon! I’m gonna sleep until next Friday.”

Some tech-savvy guys even design robots for themselves. A Chinese man, Zheng Jiajia, was unable to find a human girlfriend to his liking, so he built himself a robotic yin for his yang, and named her Yingying. After a three-month courtship, he proposed marriage. She accepted, as programmed, and they tied the knot in an informal (and non-legally binding) ceremony in front of a small gathering that included close friends, the groom’s mother, and the bride’s motherboard. The bride wore a red veil and, more than likely, no panties. The couple now live as man and wife, and Yingying is probably getting lots of RAM from Zheng’s hard drive as we speak (if you know what I mean).

Not everyone is enthusiastic about robot-sexing, though. Kathleen Richardson, a fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University in Leicester, is one such person. She has actually launched a campaign against sex robots which, for some reason, is called ‘Campaign Against Sex Robots’, and charges that they objectify women and could help to fuel sexual aggression against them.

For example, a sex doll is available with programmable personalities, including ‘Wild Wendy’, ‘S&M Susan’ and ‘Young Yoko’. However, the setting ‘Frigid Farrah’ is what is causing concern, as in this setting, the character is "reserved and shy" and, according to the manufacturers, "if touched in a private area, more than likely she will not be too appreciative of your advance". This “resistance setting” allows men to simulate rape, and there are concerns that the technology may promote the normalisation of sexual assault.  On the other hand, some suggest that it may encourage rapists to find a “safe outlet” for their crimes.

The fears about male aggression were realised last week. Samantha, a £3,000 sexbot that can tell jokes, quote philosophy, reply when spoken to, and moan when her breasts and hips are touched, was “molested” at a tech fair in Austria. According to the doll’s developer, men who behaved like “barbarians” mounted her breasts, her legs and arms, leaving her with two broken fingers, and her body “heavily soiled”.

Samantha is one hot botty girl, though. She has an artificial G-spot that, when stimulated, can cause her to have a robogasm. Unfortunately, she has no clitoris, so men who are already clueless about the clitoris will unfortunately remain so.

There is another concern about the dolls. Because they are computerised, they can be hacked, and there are fears that they have the potential to kill people. If hacking is possible, I can see how they can kill erections, too. Imagine, you select the ‘Skettel Sasha’ mode for your ‘goodaz’ robot, but your bad-mind IT friend (who can only afford a blow-up dolly) hacks her, and instead of screaming out nastiness, she quotes from Leviticus and discusses the latest research findings on antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea. Your shaft would shrinkingly surrender like a salted slug.

But women are not to be left out of the sexual robocalypse. Here come male robots with bionic penises, promising to give men stiff competition. Apparently, these function like studs on intravenous Viagra infusions, and can outlast the Energizer Bunny, in addition to possessing the ability to hold conversations. Most important, they will not fall asleep after sex, and women can talk to them for hours and their eyes will remain open.

Still no word on male robots with bionic tongues, though. Now that would be the ‘lick’. Ladies, just imagine having a robot with a bionic penis AND a bionic tongue. You could invite your best friend over for a ‘robot a trois’. Just saying.

Would I want a sex robot? Even if I were single, no. They talk, but their voices sound like the GPS lady. If I were to get it on with one, I’d be listening out for her to say “recalculating” or announce that I have two hours to go before I reach my destination, which would stress me out.

Also, their facial expressions are somewhat limited, and their smiles literally plastic. They look spaced out like they were given midazolam, a drug that I use to sedate patients for minor procedures. I would feel too much like I am in a Bill Cosby-type situation.

But, to each his own. Better mess with a robot, and it ends up with broken parts, than hurt a person and leave them with a broken heart.

- Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.