Robots are coming and they’re either going to take your job or save your marriage. Say what? Most of us have heard how robots will impact the workforce … but a marriage? Yes, says economist and Dollars and Sex author Marina Adshade.
Recently the professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver read from the chapter she contributed to a new book, Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, and her talk has gotten some press. Robots, she says, could relieve some of the pressure we feel to find a perfect partner — someone who’s a great parent, great companion, best friend, great lover, etc. Sexbots can take care of sexual needs, she says, which can uncouple sex from marriage and, thus, help couples individualize their marriage, as we promote in The New I Do. It may even lead more toward exploring polyamory or polygamy:
“Sex robots add the ability of finding new ways around problems. I’m not going to worry about what my sexual relationship is because I have this technology that satisfies that part of my life.”
Do we want ‘hot’ sexbots?
I have no doubt people could fall in love with a robot. And while a sexbot could improve a marriage, it could just as likely break up a marriage. The problem isn’t with sexbots per se — it’s with the kind of robots we’re creating, ones that speak to our fantasies.
Just look at the typical female robot. She’s classically beautiful, most likely white but perhaps Asian, her body is shaped like a Barbie doll‘s and she’s only to eager too please. Whatever’s being developed right now looks a lot like Ava, the robot in the 2014 sci-fi thriller Ex Machina. Ava was custom-made for the film’s protagonist, Caleb, based on his online porn history. Still, I’d guess she’d do for a lot of men regardless of their online porn history because — let’s face it — she’s hot. And that has consequences.
As I wrote at the time:
“Caleb is reacting like any other man in the presence of a beautiful woman — his mind gets fuzzy. And that makes him relatively helpless. Of course, Ava is a seductresses. She knows exactly what Caleb wants in a woman, and presents it to him.”
She’s his fantasy girl and if you’ve seen the movie, well, you know how that turns out.
I’m sure there will be male sexbots for us gals, but in truth, we’ve been happily using substitute “men” — our BOB, battery-operated boyfriend, aka vibrators — for a long time. BOBs don’t fully speak to our sexual fantasies — there’s no body to grab, no lips to kiss, no fingers to touch us, no ear or neck to nibble on, no eagerness to please, no hands to do the dishes, etc. — but they do the job, solo or with a partner. And we generally don’t buy the smallest BOB we can get. Just a thought there.
What happens when you actually get your fantasy?
Still, the fantasy aspect gives me pause when we talk about how sexbots could be a great marital aid. Fantasy is an wonderful part of life in general, and can certainly help keep a long-term romantic relationship feisty. But if you actually can have your fantasy? Well …
Does that really benefit us and our relationships?
We better figure this out soon because as Ex Machina director Alex Garland acknowledges, we’re closer than ever to making our perfect person come true:
“The thing we desire and think we can’t have we can now shape exactly to the specification of how we want it. There’s something incredibly scary about how unstoppable it feels.”
It does feel unstoppable because it probably is. Which means we might want to think about how robots will impact our lives. Because they will — even if we personally don’t have one and don’t want one. It could amp up our expectations of women’s beauty and body at a time that we’re trying so hard to fight unrealistic beauty standards, while also turning beauty into a moral imperative, while also having to deal with men who can’t be around women — especially beautiful nannies — because … temptation.
Women + sexbots = objects
Would men really be content to have a hot sexbot and a frumpy wife even if she’s a great mom? Could gorgeous, Barbie doll-like sexbots actually make things worse for women? Not to make this strictly a man’s issue, but men just don’t have to endure the same unrealistic beauty expectations as women do (well, in hetero relationships anyway). Could sexbots add to the objectification of women?
As Kate Wilson writes in Straight:
“History is full of examples of western society viewing women in terms of their physical attributes, rather than their thoughts and desires. By creating sex robots with cartoonish sexual characteristics, these companies perpetuate the idea that a woman’s value is tied to her body. That choice is exacerbated by commodity culture. Billions of dollars are spent to encourage people to have relationships with objects. Marketing products not just as items, but as something more — a creation that makes people feel good, or desirable, or rich — an object can become a part of a person’s identity. Humanoid sex robots exacerbate the idea that it’s possible to relate to an object like another person, and — by extension — that a person can be treated like an object.”
What if we made sexbots that were less-than perfect physically and a little less eager to please — in other words, more human, flaws and all? Since amateur porn is a growing market, why not?
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com.