Following up on the “sex robot”


Image of Chris Cunningham’s work by Fozzman.

So, there was an overwhelming amount of noise a month ago about “Roxxxy” the “sex robot”. Where is she now? Well, I can tell you that she’s on sale right now; the price on TrueCompanion.com has been slashed by $500. Most importantly, what was the conclusion of all the hype? I had my own snarky review of the non-product that not only seemed to lag behind current sex dolls, virtual girlfriend AI and actual robots. You see, Roxxxy still isn’t actually a robot. No moving robotics in her lifeless body, kids. Did the media fact check the claims made by her maker? No, of course not — it’s sex, so no one had to bother.

Well, last week Veronica Belmont wrote a fantastic piece for Slate, Valley of the Sex Dolls. If only the other reportage could have been as factual and insightful. I love how she asked outright whether a woman can be replaced in the bedroom — this was alluded to all over the press, but no one asked or answered this question without bias — except Veronica. I had the good fortune of being quoted in the piece; and the even better fortune to have Veronica be so excited and impressed with my answers (or sex robot nerdery) that she published my unedited answers on her blog from our pre-Slate interview. If you’re interested in sex robots, human obsession with sex machines, the sex machine business, and the idea of “replacing” your sex partner with a robot, do read Veronica’s interview with me.

Usually when I write about a new tech product, I like to have a little “hands-on” time with the device. Perhaps fortunately, that’s not the case with the Roxxxy TrueCompanion, the latest in high-tech sex toys, unleashed at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. While I was next-door at the Consumer Electronics Show, checking out the latest in 3-D televisions and e-book readers, Roxxxy was making waves with sex industry professionals and robot bloggers alike.

Creator Douglas Hines believes his “sex robot” to be the most realistic in existence, with several different personality modes built into each unit (Mature Martha, Frigid Farrah, Wild Wendy) that can be further tailored and shared with other users online. It also has software that responds to touch and offers audio feedback based on activity. While the technology inside of Roxxxy is very intriguing, I’m more curious about how artificial intelligence in the bedroom will change how we real humans view sex. (…read more, slate.com)

Why are people so obsessed with the idea of sex robots?

People have fantasized about sex with robots since at least 1886, thanks to science fiction, when the first female android mate was made popular in French author Auguste Villers novel “The Future Eve” (“L’Eve Future”). In it, a fictional Thomas Edison creates a human female android for a despondent male friend who hates his real-life fiancée so much he wants to kill himself. Edison kindly offers to make him a robot replica of the fiancée, but without all that bothersome personality. Sex with robots is the ultimate manifestation for our fantasy of having sex with things that have no feeling, free of consequences.There are many advantages to sex with a human, and many things you will not get — yet — from a machine, like skin touch, smell, eye contact, tenderness, etc. Those things that humans alone can provide (so far) are only part of the sexual experience, but they are so fraught with intensity that they can often dominate the experience. Since we are socialized to not be blatant about physical pleasure, even if we’re blatant about sexuality, engaging in that kind of physical expression, and focusing on the purely penetrative and rhythmic, is liberating for many, including women.

I think it’s important that we reconsider calling an item with no robotics and no movement (or actuators) a robot. There are no robotics in Roxxxy, save for sensors that only transmit feedback for audio responses.

Would a male version of a doll like this ever work for women?

Yes, absolutely. Probably even more successfully than for men, provided she’s handy with tools and has rudimentary programming skills when her Robert PattinsonXXX Love Doll has a system crash. What’s fascinating is how openly and unquestionably women have embraced sex with machines: whether vibrators, or large-scale sex machines such as those seen as infamous machine sex websites where it’s only women, machines and authentic orgasms. According to “The Technology Of Orgasm” by Rachel Maines, women have been having orgasms with machines since at least 1860 (…read more, veronicabelmont.com)

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