Sex robots (or ‘sexbots’) have captured the imagination of people (largely men) in one form or another for decades, if not centuries. With a recent surge of sensationalist media in more recent years around sex robots, we thought SEXTECHGUIDE readers deserved some proper information – charting the myths, realities, controversies and questions you might have about sex robots.
If you’re reading this, the chances are you want to find out more about the reality of sex robots. Once the stuff of sci-fi legend, it seems the reality of a robot lover is getting closer every day.
In 2016, Noel Sharkey, former advisor to the United Nations on robotics, said sex robots would be mainstream by 2026. In the years since, debate about the ethics of sex robots has been active. Should these innovations be celebrated as sophisticated tools for sexual pleasure, or do these lifelike qualities indicate the beginning of the end for the future of human relationships?
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What is a Sex Robot?
You could argue that something like a Fleshlight Launch is already a type of ‘sex robot’. You could equally argue that any vibrator could also be considered a sex robot. However, for most people, the term refers to quite a specific vision: a humanoid robot built exclusively for sex.
For some people, artificial intelligence would also be a necessity – to make the experience as ‘realistic’ as possible, whereas some DIY efforts (there are many such projects – you can see a lot of them in the already dated documentary ‘My Sex Robot‘ from 2010) simply aim to vaguely replicate the mechanics of sex i.e. robotic thrusts. The end result isn’t going to get you anywhere close to the uncanny valley though.
While some people might accept mechanical movement of existing sex dolls as a sex robot, many of the keenest advocates couldn’t accept that sort of conceptual decoupling – that a sex robot that can’t speak, react, flirt and otherwise act ‘human’ isn’t really a sexbot at all.
History of Sex Robots
While much of the current focus on sex robots is replicating a human equipped with AI that’s capable of carrying off a conversation and fulfilling your sexual needs, the use of ‘sex robots’ is arguably as historical as it is futuristic.
“The relationship between humans and their artificial counterparts runs right back to the myths of ancient Greece, where sculptor Pygmalion’s statue was brought to life with a kiss. It is the stuff of legend and of science fiction – part of our written history and a part of our imagined future.”Kate Devlin, Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King’s College, London.
21st Century Sex Robots
What sex robots exist
Over the past few years, there have been more headlines about sex robots, but not many more actual robots for sale.
What started out as hobbyists has grown into a fledgling industry – but one that still has some technical challenges to overcome in its future.
Nonetheless, they are being overcome currently.
What are the best sex robots to buy now?
Other FAQs About Sex Robots
Can I buy a sex robot that talks?
Yes. Both Abyss Creations and TrueCompanion say their dolls are able to have full conversations with their users. TrueCompanion’s English-speaking Roxxxy doll will soon be able to speak Spanish, German and Japanese, according to TrueCompanion.
Can I buy a sex robot that can feel?
As well as hearing what you are saying, Roxxxy knows “where you are touching her and responds as appropriately as possible.”
However sex robot touch interaction is very basic as it stands. RealDoll’s McMullen explains that “more-lifelike genitalia isn’t far behind touch sensors, heating, self-lubrication, vibration’. Santos even claims to have designed sex robot G-spot stimulation, where you can “bring Samantha to orgasm”.
The Robot exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington, London, UK, displayed flexible, artificial intelligent skin called CYSKIN. This (or similar) technology, if incorporated into sex robotics, would allow the robot to “feel and recognise the touch and caress of an affectionate human, to know when their human is making the first physical overtures of passionate, romantic love”.
Do male sex robots exist?
Perhaps predictably, the sex robot market has thus far been geared towards straight male customers. TrueCompanion is the first to launch the male sex robot Rocky, although some people are sceptical if the robots have ever surfaced at all (we’ve yet to see images of the prototype).
LA-based sex doll maker Sinthetics is the first to create lifelike silicone male dolls, but these aren’t AI-compatible… yet. But is there even a demand for male sex robots?
Abyss Creations believes so. McMullen said: “[We’ve had] a lot of request from women – not just as a sex partner, but as a companion. “We really are focusing all our energy on the companionship aspect.”
The six-foot tall, white, Henry, is a “Brad Pitt look-alike”. To be released this year, sporting the usual customizable features and (shock horror) detachable penis. Henry is no different to his male sex doll counterparts, except for his AI head linked to the app, just like Harmony.
How much do sex robots cost?
Sex robots can cost anything from $7,000 to upwards of $10,000. Abyss Creations’ Harmony has a starting price of $7,999, but when you add customizable options such as hand painted eyes (for an extra $350), you can see how quickly the total sum can add up.
Going up a bra cup size costs an additional $850 alone. But let’s be honest, if you have $10,000 spare to buy a sex robot, you can probably afford the extra money for custom freckles on top of the customized labia and pubic hair.
Do sex robot brothels exist?
If you can’t afford the full package, there are an increasing number of sex doll brothels around the world, including Aura Dolls, in Canada, and The Dolly Parlour in London. There are a few that specifically cater to robotic fantasies.
In Barcelona, Turin and Moscow, LumiDolls, founded by Sergi Prieto has a few robots prostitutes in their brothels. However, the Barcelona branch closed down within a few weeks of opening after non-robot sex workers protested against it.
Kinky S Dolls is a Canadian sex doll manufacturer, owned by Yuval Graviel. He is attempting to open the first ‘robot brothel’ in the US, offering a range of products. This includes the option to add an AI voice to your custom-made doll.
Sex robot videos
If you’re curious to see how sex robots work, before you invest your money and physical energy, you can find thousands of clips on sites like PornHub and YouPorn. Porn site CamBot launched ‘Cardi-Bot’ – the world’s first sex robot you can live cam with for free.
If you’re simply interested in the technology side, Vice journalist Karley Sciortino meets RealDoll’s Harmony in one of the videos below.
The world’s first male sex doll
My Sex Robot
Meet Harmony the sex robot
Inside the Uncanny Valley
Will sex robots replace human sex and love?
Some argue whether sex with a robot even counts as real, and as the current state of sex robots stands, the sexual experience is limited to the conscious experience of the user, thus one could argue that it is more a form of masturbation, akin to smart sex toys. Until the sex robots gain technological skills that surpass humans, alongside the nuance, mysticism and unpredictability, it is unlikely that they will eradicate human sex, remaining as a niche in the market.
What about sex robots as a form of therapy?
As noted in Lars and the Real Doll, on online forums, iDollators (sex doll lovers) explain that sex dolls are used as “a therapeutic tool that helps them to overcome a traumatic breakup or to cope with seemingly inevitable social and sexual deprivation due to physical and/or mental impairment.”
Can you explore sex with robots without the robots?
For anyone with an affinity for robot sex, you can explore this fantasy in other ways than sex robots. This porn star spent $500,000 on plastic surgery to transform her body to look like the sex dolls as saw a growing demand for sexbots.
Sex robot ethics and morality
Should robots have rights?
In 2017, Sophia became the world’s first robot to be granted legal personhood with her Saudi Arabian citizenship, the same country that only just gave women the right to drive. While this was mostly a marketing ploy, it does make a statement on what human rights are worth in a world of inequality.
Would a robot programmed to obey, be given the right to consent? When we look back at the core existence of robots as slaves, this is a contradiction, unless we accept robots into society as more than beings designed solely for our use. When we look at sexbots that are programmed to say “no” such as “Frigid Farah”, would her “no” eventually count in the eyes of the law as revoking consent when a person dismisses that?
Is the idea of a sex robot inherently sexist?
Technology itself is amoral, not inherently good or bad. However, the founder of Campaign Against Sex Robots, Kathleen Richardson, demands that all sex robots are inherently sexist and objectify women. Laura Bates points out in her opinion piece for the New York Times, “their creators are selling far more than an inanimate sex aid. They are effectively reproducing real women, complete with everything … except autonomy.”
They are currently built in the eyes of the hetero-patriarchal male gaze, commoditising on the female form, but that is not to say they are inherently wrong. The campaign, if successful, wouldn’t do anything to alleviate sexism. Censorship has proven time and time again to actually hinder innovation that could overcome these issues.
Could sex robots encourage rape?
“The concern is that rape enacted on a doll could encourage rape in real life,” says Kate Devlin, an AI expert who specialises in love and sex with robots. “Legally, you can’t rape something that isn’t human, but ethically it has to be examined.”
Could sex robots encourage paedophilia?
What repeatedly arises in the news is the creation and use of child sex robots. People have argued whether, just like raping a sexbot, will it alleviate a person’s need to act upon these urges on a human child, or does it encourage the behaviour in society by validating it as an acceptable form of release for people who hold these desires?
As it stands, we have a long way to go to find out the impact, but we can certainly debate and direct the course of events in the mean time.
In considering this particular question, however, it’s probably important to note that sex robots that take the appearance of a child wouldn’t be legal to own anyway in many countries, in the same way that people have been prosecuted for purchasing and importing non-robotic sex dolls that have child-like characteristics in both the UK and New Zealand.