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Will we all be replacing our human partners for machines, that can not only stimulate our sexual needs and help us reach orgasm, but also teach us how to improve our skills in the bedroom? Science fiction? Hardly. Welcome to a future that is just around the corner.

Have steamy dreams about Terminator? Feel the blood rushing to your privates when you think of C3PO? Chances are you can count yourself as one of the people in this world who are hot for robots. Technosexuals, also known as ASFRians (where ASFR stands for alt.sex.fetish.robots) are sexually attracted to robots, where the term "robot" can refer to both machine-like devices as well as androids (robots made to resemble humans), or, as Robotdoll of www.asfr.com, a website dedicated to ASFRians, described it: "the concept of sex with or sexual attraction to robots and robot-like beings. This can range from metallic, non-humanoid machines to humanoid androids."

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Photo: ManuelSagra (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Gynoid by Hajime Sorayama

With definitions out of the way, is robot sex the future? Will we all be replacing our human partners with a machine? Maybe and maybe not, but it's far from being a new concept. Almost 30 years ago, Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama published his work Sexy Robot, which gained international attention and quickly became popular amongst technosexuals. Dating even further back, German couple Fritz and Thea Lang wrote and directed the movie Metropolis, whose female heroine Maria was a robot, and doing a quick online search on "sexy robots", it quickly becomes evident that Maria the robot places herself on many top ten lists on the web. And this movie came out in 1927. So, hot robots are not a new thing. But robot fetishism does not necessarily end there, as it can stretch further than just finding a fembot "hot", to wanting - and sometimes actually having - sex with one. So what is it that is so sexual, and, how would one go about de facto having intercourse with a robot?

As with everything else, there is naturally a spectrum of people who like different things, but to give a rough idea of what turns a technosexual on, WinterRose mentions six areas: start-up and shut-down, the voice of a robot, its mental state, motion and immobility, its malfunction and appearance. So the attraction can stem from numerous places, just like one might find oneself attracted to, for example, the physique, intelligence, humour or beauty of a man or woman. 

WHEN ROBOSEX IS MORE THAN SEX - THE NOTION OF MARRying A ROBOT

The story of robot sex doesn't end here, with technosexuals and ASFR and finding robots attractive. In fact, it is not an alien idea that within a few decades, robots might be married to humans, at least if you ask David Levy, author of Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual age and Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. In his work, he elaborates on the idea that by 2050, not only will sex be common, but fully-fledged relationships - marriages, even - between humans and robots will be a reality.

"Yes - I most definitely believe that sexbots will be able to extend the human experience of sexuality... Robots could teach us and help us practise."
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Photo: Johnson Cameraface (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Fancy a robotic threesome?

In an About.com interview, Levy says: "Yes - I most definitely believe that sexbots will be able to extend the human experience of sexuality." Drawing on his knowledge of how computer programmes work, Levy says "If such a program were to be developed, incorporating all the knowledge contained in all of the world's sex manuals, and with some basic knowledge of human anatomy, the result could be a plethora of new ideas for lovemaking, new sexual positions, that robots could teach us and help us practice if we wish." So robots would not simply be advanced, sci-fi versions of the vibrators and other sex toys that are available today, but, according to Levy, could actually teach us a thing or two about the art of love-making. If Levy is right, and that does turn out to be true and computers teach people how to have better sex, would the world be a better place? Levy argues that it would. He believes that there are socially marginalised people who have a hard time finding someone to love and who loves them back, difficulties getting their need for sex, love - and even companionship, tended to, and that "in many ways robots represent a very good way out of this problem, just as the Japanese and American governments are now looking at the possibility of using robots as carers for the elderly. I firmly believe that in time robots will not only become carers, sensitive to the emotional and practical needs of the elderly, but that they will also become our friends if we want them to, and our companions, lovers and marriage partners."

Ok. So sex, love and potentially even marriage with a robot. Let's scrutinise the first of these further: how exactly would sex with a robot work?


TELEDILDONICS - USING COMPUTERS TO GET OFF

Do you use a dildo? A vibrator, cock ring or nipple clamp? Prostate massagers, geisha balls, anal beads? Basically, do you use sex toys and enjoy them? Good for you. Now imagine a lifesize doll that looks very life-like (for example a RealDoll), that can connect to your computer through a plug. Then picture that the doll has a face and skin which very much resemble that of human beings and touch sensors on its breasts, genitals, earlobes, buttcheeks, thighs and lips. 

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Photo: ManuelSagra (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Sorayama's "Sexy Robot"

Now, imagine that the doll is mechanical in such a way that all these aforementioned body parts actually move, clench, thrust, rotate, vibrate, and by performing these actions, help you reach an orgasm. In this sense, it can be argued that a robot isn't more than a sex toy, albeit larger, more advanced - and resembling a human. Add the fact that you can speak to the doll and it can speak to you, moan and groan. It can tell you to go harder, or softer, or say that it wants more. It can also use its sensors to measure the state you are in: gathering data of your pulse and body temperature, it gets an indication of when you are sexually aroused and when you get close to orgasm, and uses this information to adapt its speed, vibrations and thrusts to maximise your pleasure. It suddenly becomes a sex toy 2.0.

Technology has come far, but has not yet created this robot, that looks like a human, talks like a human and has sex like a human. But reality is not far from there. Thanks to what is known as teledildonics, there is a way to create such an interaction between a person and their robot partner. An example of a teledildonic device would be the Sinulator, a wireless dildo that is controlled over the internet - meaning others can manoeuvre it for you, from anywhere else in the world.

It can use its sensors to know when you are about to reach an orgasm, it can thrust and vibrate to help you get there, and it can tell you to go harder. It suddenly becomes sex toy 2.0.
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Photo: xadrian (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Cocktail robot

In 2008, Gizmodo published an interesting interview with Zoltan, a man who asked his robot girlfriend Alice to marry him. The article is fun to read, mostly because of the tone in which it is written and the way in which it portrays the rather bizarre life of what, at first glance, seems to be a bizarre man. But stopping to think about it, what is actually so bizarre about it, other than it being unusual, and that most people are not used to it and may have never heard of it before?

Because it's different and unusual, it automatically becomes strange - but does strange automatically have to equal bad? Or is it just bad because it's related to sex, and sex has been a topic that has always been taboo, stirred debate, evoked frowns and prejudice? If so, we need to fast forward to the 21st century, realise that this is the time we are living in and that what you do or don't do in your bedroom concerns no one other than yourself.

As for robot sex, technology is already taking us there. People have always had, and as far as we know, will always have, sexual needs. So it is not surprising if robosexuality does become reality - very soon.

Teaser image: E&M adapted version of image ManuelSagra.

 

 

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