Ever been titillated by T-1000? Aroused by R2-D2? Got a burning desire for Bishop? Then get ready for the new robo-sexual frontier, because a recent report claims intimacy between robots and humans will be more common than that between two people by 2050.
The work, written by futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, purports that engaging in virtual sex acts will be as prevalent in 2030 as our engagement with porn today, and that the majority of people will own sex toys that employ an alternate reality in some way come 2035. For those balking at the prospect of lusty bots, Dr. Pearson predicts: “A lot of people will still have reservations about sex with robots at first but gradually as they get used to them, as the AI and mechanical behavior and their feel improves, and they start to become friends with strong emotional bonds, that squeamishness will gradually evaporate.”
For Jenny, 24, the notion of a mechanized party in the bedroom doesn’t exactly appeal. “I’d never say never, but I don’t think it’s something I would do,” she says. “Although it would depend on if the robot was hot!”
If you, too, are confused as to how to make the leap from real to not-so-real sexy time, Chris Simms, managing editor of online adult sex shop Bondara, concurs. “I remember watching Demolition Man in the early nineties, there is an iconic scene based in the year 2032 where Sandra Bullock’s character dons a headset and attempts to have virtual intercourse with Sylvester Stallone’s male lead. Back then I laughed at how crazy a future world would be where no one had physical relations anymore—it seemed completely absurd. However, now with internet-enabled products and virtual reality headsets on the rise this future that I thought was unfathomable could actually be a reality much sooner than predicted in the film,” he says.
“The future is looking pretty sexy!”
There’s also big money to be made from humanoid-induced hard-ons. Dr. Pearson predicts that leisure spending could spike by a factor of five, with the sex industry growing a whopping seven times its current size in the next 35 years. He also believes that high income households will see major growth in their adoption of robot sex within the decade, proving that robophilia (this is a word now) doesn’t discriminate.
Whatever the future of sex looks like, one thing’s for sure: our ability to distinguish human interactions from virtual ones is becoming significantly less acute. As the Ex Machina stunt—in which a Tinder bot using photos of its star Alicia Vikander swiped and chatted with fellow users of the app before revealing its true self—demonstrate, more than ever intimacy is becoming something very different. Dr. Pearson suggests that the proliferation of VR in the bedroom will drive a wedge between love and sex, further challenging the traditional concept of a relationship. It remains to be seen whether couples will split if your partner is found to be boning a hologram when you come in early from work one night.
The report makes some interesting predictions about the logistics of our changing sexual habits, namely, the idea that lightweight glasses and active contact lenses which allow the recording and replaying of sensations will soon become a feature of the sex toy market. “We’ll get technology to let you share experiences, inhabit other people’s bodies, even lock them in place or control them electronically,” Dr. Pearson predicts. He envisages that the future of strip clubs will cater to our technological tastes, with robots—a “cheaper replacement for real life interaction,” he notes—making their way into their darkened doors n the very near future. “Even sex films could be rendered in real time CGI by future PCs, so you could pick the appearance of the stars and what they get up to rather than making do with the real stars on offer,” he adds.
Perhaps the biggest risk isn’t what a generation of childless robot humpers will do to society’s reproduction rates, but rather a future in which AI-on-AI intimacy has the capacity for serious damage. “It is hard to predict what sorts of sex AIs will invent for their own amusement, but likely they will do so,” the report reads. “This is another area we’ll need to protect from hackers.”
Indeed, this acknowledgement of how wildly unknown the future of sex is may prove to be cause for concern. “Morality is inherently cultural and the path of VR could take our habits anywhere,” Dr. Pearson concludes. “Sex and the pleasure it provides has been fundamental to the human race for three billion years, and it isn’t going away any time soon…Social values will adapt to these new possibilities and subsequent behaviors, and loving relationships will remain important in spite of these shifts in values.
“If we can keep love and our emotional human relationships but have more, better and safer sex, what’s not to like?”