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Robot sex & the city: An affair heading for disaster

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge
is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Robot sex & the city: An affair heading for disaster
Increasingly, mortal men and women are trading in their aging, worn-out human counterparts for shiny, sleek androids that never get old, never get jealous and never say no. Is this a match made in heaven?

In hindsight, we shouldn’t be surprised by humans getting a rise out of robots. Hollywood has been pumping and priming us for the big nuptials between man and android for many decades now.

Consider, for example, James Cameron’s 1991 box office hit ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day.’ Aside from being the highest-grossing film of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career, it was the first time in cinematic history when millions of theatergoers dropped salty tears on their popcorn over the demise of a robot. And, significantly, the death was premeditated. The android played by Schwarzenegger disobeyed direct orders by a human and ‘suicided’ itself rather than expose the world to more mayhem. How’s that for loyalty and devotion, the two key ingredients of any solid relationship?

Since then, the Western media has been indulging the public with story after story detailing the advances being made on the robot and artificial intelligence fronts. From incredibly adroit robot dogs that look like something from a Stephen King nightmare, to home robots designed to help in the kitchen, there doesn’t seem to be anything a robot cannot do. And let’s just try and forget that super-creepy moment when Sophia, a stunningly realistic robot featured at the 2016 SXSW convention, said with a coy smile that she would gladly “destroy all humans,” after some odd prompting by the interviewer.  

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Today, however, the robots have crossed the red line from being obedient gourmet chefs and dutiful maids to devoted sex partners, and, in some cases, actual ‘spouses’. Perhaps what is most disturbing about this new trend is the readiness of the public to accept it.

According to data from YouGov Omnibus, 49 percent of Americans believe that having sex with robots will become the norm within the next 50 years. The poll noted that just 9 percent of women would consider “getting frisky with a robot,” whereas 24 percent of men would consider taking an automaton lover for a test drive.

At this point, an obvious question: what could make a human being want to have sex with a machine, even one that might be a dead ringer for Sofia Vergara? After all, just below the pliable life-like surface is a collection of wires and hardware. And yet, the way that so many people are beginning to act like robots, glued as they are to their smart devices 24 hours a day, and robots increasingly acting like humans, perhaps the sexual convergence is the ‘natural’ order of things? Perhaps even one day science and technology will – perish the thought – discover a way to breed humans and robots to create an entirely new living creature.

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that mankind has cracked open yet another Pandora’s Box that promises to haunt these robotic romances, possibly even leading to a disastrous divorce down the road. In fact, it seems strange, even slightly suicidal, that so many people are willing to have an intimate relationship with a robot despite everything we already know about the ‘internet of things.’ Here is the next level of the Web where everyday appliances – from toasters to televisions – will all be connected to a central control grid. The Matrix, if you will. This represents the Achilles Heel of every sex robot on the market – their vulnerability to be hacked and remotely controlled, just like automobiles can be ‘pirated’ by a remote location.

The following scenario is not so difficult to imagine: you are enjoying a very relaxing evening at home with your top-shelf sex robot when all of a sudden some hacker in his bedroom down the street decides to reprogram your significant other into a jealous maniac. She thinks you’ve been seeing other androids in your spare time. So instead of sipping wine and having your hair stroked in front of the fireplace, you spend the entire night defending yourself with a baseball bat against the Terminator in your bedroom.

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Meanwhile, the moral considerations of men (and women) engaging in sexual relationships with automatons are no less troublesome. In the Book of Genesis, it says, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Now it seems that mankind is not only attempting to play the role of God, mimicking the very process of Creation, but is arrogantly believing he has somehow improved upon the work of the Almighty.

In another part of the Bible, it states “thou shall not worship false idols or images.” Yet here we are today, not only attempting to ‘perfect’ the work of God through robotics and AI, we are content to have sexual relations with those idols as well. If there really is a God, he cannot be smiling upon such deeds.

Finally, with plenty of room being made in the panoply of Liberalism for all sorts of cultural experimentation, such as men claiming themselves to be women (and vice-versa) simply by declaring it to be true, we must wonder where the ‘rights of robots’ will be in the future. It is easy to imagine a time not so far off when sentient robots will qualify for all of the legal rights now accorded to human beings, while marriage between human and robot will also be legally recognized.

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My primary concern with all of this, however, is: with men now becoming women, and humans enjoying sexual relations with robots, how will the reproduction of the human species continue apace? Notwithstanding some scientific breakthrough that allows for some sort of artificial insemination alongside artificial intelligence, it seems that mankind may be on the autobahn to extinction. Will that be the unintended consequence from all of this radical experimentation - the eradication of mankind and his replacement with something that can no longer be considered human?

Although machines can do many things far better than humans, they will never possess the one thing that separates them from the humans, and that is a soul. Hopefully they will never begrudge us that shortcoming, but I fear someday they will.  

@Robert_Bridge

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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