Over the years we have rejected quite a few design concepts presented to us. Some were dangerous, some were copies of other products and a few were just too far off in the future. Over a cup of coffee we got talking about some of these and very soon got onto comparing how some of the old wish lists we had read for anthropomorphic sex robots compared to what we now know is possible. It surprised us to learn that a fully featured doll is still a little way off but there are some parts of the wish list we could tick off.
- Conversational dolls responding directly to the user. ✓ using ChatGPT or one of its variants with a bit of programming and specific response preferences would fulfill that.
- Animated face. ✓ using micro servos and actuators synchronised to speech resulting in a lifelike look and with expressions is already possible.
- Feedback. ✓ movement and pressure sensors integrated into ‘touchable areas’ and synchronized with verbal and facial output is practical. Adding localised stimulations of tightness, vibration, heat and pulsing begins to close the feedback loop.
- Companionship. ✓ a life sized, human replicant can be built with any body type and appearance. They can be dressed to suit and the parameters of the conversation delivered through AI can be set to suit the user’s preference.
- What else? Hmmm, let’s see.
That could include the capability of complex movement so a robot can share the dynamics and active space of humans by engaging with us when walking, exercising, and caring for us, just as though they too were human. If we consider that companies like General Dynamics, Hanson Robotics and Honda, to name but a few, are making huge advances in this area, then we should conclude this capability is not far away. Sex doll creators are pushing these same limits all the time so whether the human-like sex robot market is fulfilled by the robotics companies, the adult toy industry or a collaboration, is somewhat irrelevant because in the long term we are sure it will happen.
With our coffee cups almost empty we predicted that quite soon we are going to see robots indistinguishable from ourselves and able to do “more than” the ironing or washing up. Would those same robots have autonomy and decision making? The answer is, at some point, it will be crude to begin with and will then develop exponentially through learning. Free will is something we all cherish but possibly not something that would be a part of the makeup for a sex robot, especially when the point of a sex robot is to say yes to everything and to actively play its role.
Smug with our coffee time prediction it then went quiet as the enormity of what we had concluded was possible dawned on us. Just because something can be done, it should not always be done. Who would set the moral and ethical code that controlled what these new ‘beings’ were designed to represent and be configured for? It’s a much bigger topic than can be covered in a coffee break and one that left us pondering over empty cups.