Robots are getting better at everything. Including sex. Vibrator technology is advancing swiftly, with products like Vibease, which adjusts its speed based on voice cues from erotic e-books, and teledildonic apps that can control a vibrator from afar. It won’t be long until sex robots move from being experimental, fringe-bots to widely available technology—and nearly 10 percent of people are ready for it. In a survey by YouGov and the Huffington Post, 9 percent of participants said they would have sex with a robot if they could.
But there is a whole suite of questions that arise when sex robots become a reality. For instance, is having sex with a robot cheating? Forty-two percent of respondents said that it would be, while 31 percent said it wouldn’t. A quarter of people, however, were unsure. Which is characteristic of these sorts of questions. At FastCo Labs, Michael Grothus writes about this weird conundrum:
Sex with a vibrator = not cheating.
Sex with a vibrator that has legs and eyes and a face = cheating.
Ironically, it’s the possibility of sex with inhuman robots that reveals something very human about our concept of what sex is. To humans sex is more than mechanics and pleasure; it’s emotion and connection, which are primarily conveyed through human-only traits, like eye contact, empathy, and a partner’s careful observation. But one day machines will be able to convey those traits, and when that happens is when the real debate over sex and technology begins.
Once sex robots become available, it’s likely that more than 9 percent of people will at least consider trying them out. And when they do exist, we’ll have to face these questions of machine infidelity head on.
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