Sex bots: the problematic potential future of the sex trade

An insight into how artificial intelligence can stimulate real pleasure

There are some who claim that there is no such thing as a universal truth. According to this statement, I guess I’d be considered an intellectual, as there is one universal truth that no one can deny: sex sells. Although sex has been around for approximately 1.2 billion years, it has evolved into something more in the recent technological era. Take a trip to a local sex shop and the vast array of unthinkable vibrating, spinning and whirling technological gadgets and toys will astonish any individual. This rapid increase in technology has brought a new era to this primitive idea and industry. Prostitution is one of the few careers where women actually get paid more than men, however this technological sex era may make human service obsolete. The sex industry has officially entered a new realm of interactive technology and artificial intelligence where robots are now being used as sex workers and can interact with a partner/owner to simulate a “human” sexual experience. Although this is a unique era in the sex industry, it doesn’t come without its problems.

If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, along with physical customizations, certain dolls also have artificial intelligence.

Companies such as Abyss Creations in California create hyperrealistic sex dolls available for purchase. From this website, over 20 different pre-made dolls can be bought. However, for those willing to splurge, there are many physical and algorithmic customizable options they are able to choose from. Each doll starts with one of the many “female body” types. These types range in height, weight and measurements, including their cup size. The body types presented are skinny with either large breasts or large glutes, or both, which provides unrealistic beauty expectations for women as they are forced to fall into one of those categories. Slightly more disturbing is the fact that the purchaser may choose piercings, eye colour, as well as customizable labia shapes and pubic hair options to create their ideal partner. With all of these customizations, it is correct to assume people can create replicas of individuals in their lives such as ex-partners or celebrities to fulfil their fantasies and pleasures. This poses many concerns, as people may be made into similar-looking sex dolls without their own knowledge or consent. If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, along with physical customizations, certain dolls also have artificial intelligence. This allows them to listen, speak, hold a conversation, get to know your preferences, as well as respond to touching and stimulation of different areas of the body. “Roxxxy” is an artificially intelligent sex bot made by Douglas Hines from True Companion that can be modified based on the personality one would like the robot to have during sexual intercourse. For example, Roxxxy can be programmed to have the “Wild Wendy” personality who is very forward, aggressive, and will sexually push her partner when she is touched, or “Frigid Farrah” who is known to be very reserved and push away sexual and intimate contact. The Frigid Farrah personality refuses much sexual contact and therefore if she is used sexually, this could simulate a rape situation. The full personality and physical customization of sex bots is highly concerning as it can cause individuals to objectify or dehumanize women, like they are able to do with their sex bots.

Cyber brothels are becoming increasingly popular around the globe, including in Tokyo where a 24/7 doll-escort service already exists. The owner claims to have reduced labour costs from his traditional call-girl service. There are claims that these cyber brothels could be especially dangerous for sexual deviants and those that are sexually curious. Cyber brothels have the potential to be a “safe space” to try new dangerous or harmful sexual practices. All of this isn’t necessarily illegal, since it’s not on real human beings. It’s easy to see that this idea is indeed extremely problematic. This model seems analogous to the “try it before you buy it” commercially used slogan. The lack of legislation regarding robot brothels further demonstrates that these could be far more dangerous in the real world than in the occasional pit stop for a quick bit of pleasure.

Where there’s a supply, there’s clearly a demand and, in general, the sex bot market is on an upward trend.

I’m sure the thought has already crossed your mind by now, so isn’t there a risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases amongst customers of sex robots? Yes, there is. Without patrons using condoms or other barrier methods of contraception, which they might not feel as though they “need” with sex bots, there is the potential for an increase in STIs. This has the possibility of causing a huge public health problem.  

The clear lack of global and local legislation for this new up and coming technology raises many concerns. Companies are currently making very young-looking sex bots or even “cat girl” dolls. Where there’s a supply, there’s clearly a demand and, in general, the sex bot market is on an upward trend. According to Abyss Creations, each sex bot costs upwards of $6000 with the company claiming to make over $2 million per year. There are many more companies like Abyss Creations all over the world that are bringing in millions more dollars in the creation and production of human-like sex bots. As this sex bot culture becomes more popular and possibly normalized in the future with predicted robot-to-human marriage as early as 2050, governments will be forced to consider their options and see if the benefits outweigh the predicted consequences of this situation.

Considering the fact that an online survey of 263 male participants showed that 40.3% would currently buy a sex bot or within the next five years, it is evident that the future of robot sex is now. Evidently, the looming presence of the future is predicted to come with an increase in heinous sexual crimes committed by deviants. The presence of sex bots will increase this risk by their complete customizability that leads to a dehumanizing and objectifying view and attitude towards women, the increasing accessibility of robot brothels that can be used to try out dangerous sexual practices, and a clear lack of legislation in this area. In closing, the creator and engineer of the artificially intelligent Roxxxy sex robot, Douglas Hines, said it best: “[Roxxxy] can do a little more than a [real] woman…,” which is why I hope he is and will forever be single.

Lauren Vrbanic

Lauren is the SciTech Editor this year. She is in her fourth year studying medicine at Trinity after having completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Canada and this is her third year working for Trinity News.