Man poses with sex robot

A U.K. man poses with an early version of new ultra-realistic sex robots that some worry could spell the end of human romance.


Technology is changing the world in many exciting ways, but some worry the next wave of advances could prove incredibly damaging for humanity. The newest culprit?

Ultra-realistic sex robots.

That’s right – the same technological breakthroughs which allow people to have a conversation with Alexa about the weather or purchase a life-like prosthetic limb are now being harnessed to create highly advanced robots capable of fulfilling all manner of sexual desires.

A Dire Warning

Sex dolls have been around for a while now, but this is totally different. The next generation of AI companions will be much more realistic and intelligent – spurring experts to warn anyone who will listen that this technology could change humanity forever.

“We’re just doing all this stuff with machines because we can and not really thinking how this could change humanity completely,” explains scientist Noel Sharkey in a new documentary called Sex Robots and Us. “Some people have suggested that sex robots create an attitude of ‘too easy’ sex which is always available. This could take meaning out of our lives and turn us into zombies.”

Japanese man with doll

A Japanese man treats his artificial partner like a real person, taking her for walks in the park and combing her hair.

The End of Dating

Although frightening, it’s possible to imagine a dystopian future in which human romance dies out and all sexual desires are fulfilled by robots who successfully mimic human behavior. This could be a serious problem – why bother going on dates when you can simply purchase a custom-made girlfriend or boyfriend?

Japan is already grappling with this phenomenon. The country’s people seem to have lost interest in dating, as marriage rates and birth rates have plummeted in recent years. Nearly half of men and women aged 18-34 are virgins. This has led to a burgeoning population crisis that’s been greatly exacerbated by advances in technology.

As human romance becomes less common, AI romance is on the rise. Over 2,000 silicone dolls (dubbed ‘Dutch Wives’) are sold each year in Japan alone, making it a huge market for sex robots as they become more and more realistic. There’s even a term for people who covet AI companionship: digisexuals.

Japan isn’t alone, however. Certain brothels in South Korea and Spain welcome the use of sex dolls. Last year, Germany opened its first “doll-only” brothel, and a subsequent survey found that one-in-five Germans were interested in buying a robotic sexual partner.

Ethical Issues

But this isn’t just about human interaction and maintaining normal relationships. There are serious ethical concerns with sex robot technology, too.

Picture a world where a pedophile can hop on the internet and order a child companion to use in their own sick fantasies. Or where a serial rapist could order a robot programmed to be shy and say ‘no’.

How would you go about regulating that? Some would say we should outlaw such practices altogether to avoid enabling such horrific behavior. But others might argue the opposite – that it’s better to allow it to happen to robots and save real people from becoming victims.

Woman with a male robot

Changes on the Horizon

At some point soon, such concerns will have to faced head-on. Although not yet entirely realistic, these robots are well on their way. And some experts predict that in only a few decades we could see robots become indistinguishable from human partners. “They will have an AI ‘personality’ and the ability to chat with you. The race is on to produce them first and they are coming soon,” explains U.K. researcher Dr. Kate Devlin.

It seems like reality and science-fiction are destined to collide. As HBO’s hit series Westworld gets set to premier its second season this weekend, these warnings seem all the more prescient. Imagine the complex characters of Westworld available online at the click of a button. Is humanity ready for that?

For those who are chronically single, lonely, disabled, or just fed up with relationships, sophisticated sex robots could be an alluring option. But the worry is they’ll become so popular and widely accessible, that eventually they’ll replace human partners altogether.

For better or worse, society has become dependent upon – and indeed fallen in love with – technology. But what will become of us when that technology can love us back, with no strings attached?

 

65 comments

  1. John Eftimiades says:

    Just when you thought you’ve seen and heard everything. I don’t know if the topic really warants a reflective comment by me, but I’m sure others will weigh in. Just a little too bizarre for my taste.

    1. Gary Hynous says:

      This is really nothing new. Blow up dolls and various other sex toys have been around for a long time. Perhaps someone will develop an AI that talks and moves like a live person and makes all the expected noises. Then all the lonely people, no matter what they look like or how socially inept, will at last find true love. No more population growth to worry about so all the ZPG’ers will be satisfied as well. Really sick and weird!!

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Anyone can find an overabundance of sex, Gary. It does’nt matter what they look like, or how sociable they are. And finding true love has nothing to do with sex. Now please tell us more about your experiences with blow up dolls.

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          And also Gary, when you mentioned “the expected noises,” were you trying to tell us that you have a fetish about doing it with sexual partners who frequently fart and belch, or that you do the same? That’s a good reason for you to keep doing it with blow up dolls, while you ring that bell in the tower, Quasi Moto .

    2. Rex R. Lippold says:

      I agree, there will never be a Robot that can replace what God made, they have no body language, or family history, these people that have one are general the lonely, depressed individuals that can’t interact with people .

  2. Joe says:

    Somehow this doesn’t worry me.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      You don’t say, my good man. Jolly good show, ol’ chap !

  3. drrgrivera says:

    “Experts Warn Ultra-Realistic Sex Robots Could Destroy Humanity”
    WITH ALL THE SEXUAL PROMISCUITY GOING ON THROUGHOUT HISTORY
    THESE SO CALLED EXPERTS’ WARNINGS… ARE THOUSANDS OF YEARS [TOO LATE]
    JUST ANOTHER WAY TO SEXUALLY EXHAUST TO THE END.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      People Are Strange (when you’re a stranger). That’s a good song by The Doors.

  4. James says:

    As is any sexual deviation. It will root itself out. Once they die off from not being part of civilization We will look back on them as fools.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      But what if they turn it into a civilization, James, and implant human brains in their sex robot citizens, and re-open Auschwitz to get rid of the humans. Sounds like a good sci-fi movie, doesn’t it ?

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      What could be deviant in a world full of deviants ? When was the last time you saw a Hustler Magazine ? It gives many tips on deviancy, and is one of my favorite mags. Of course, I only look at the cartoons.

    3. Rex R. Lippold says:

      That’s a great view point, as long as these people keep interacting with “Dolls” they won’t reproduce and in time will die off.

    4. Matthew says:

      James, I would agree except…hand in hand with sexbots is the advancments in cloning and the increasing likelihood that a human will be cloned in the not too distant future, if not already done. No need for sex to procreate and with cloning you can pick and choose who is the offspring.
      I have often wondered if the first cloned human will have a soul…..maybe they will be the Antichrist. At least a good plot line for a book and movie.

  5. Frank Villari says:

    Well, we’ve already begun the end of interpersonal, face-to-face, communication. Is it so hard to understand how human sexuality would naturally be next on the emotional chopping block? I’d just like to have a meal out and not see everyone on their “pads” instead of having a conversation with the person next to them, and they’re usually on their pads WITH the person next to them. How sad is this?

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Try a cheaper restaurant, in a poorer part of town.

  6. William Waugh says:

    I’m on the side of whatever it takes (except warfare, genecide, and such) to reduce human population by 50% or more. ….have you forgotten the billboard campaign? ….”most of the world’s problems are the result of overbreeding among the lower classes.” I used to hate that sign. Now, I not only get it, I agree with it!………and I’m still liberal,….hahahahahahaha!

    1. Matthew says:

      William,
      Are you volunteering for eradication?

      1. Tom says:

        Matthew…did you read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson?…Peace…Tom

  7. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, LCSW says:

    This is actually a bigger issue than some pathetic guy who only wants a machine in place of a prostitute to satisfy his narrow-minded sexual pleasure. This is an issue of understanding the dangerous developments of AI and it’s capacity to control everything we do. I watched “Do You Trust This Computer?” yesterday by Elon Musk who has been issuing warnings about AI for the past year or so. This is not an issue which will “root itself out.” I recommend that we get educated about AI and then we can see where we go from here. Not a good idea to stay in the dark about this and it is not a Sci Movie we are watching. It is a real threat. The sex machines are just an example of AI development.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      It sounds like Elon has been drinking too much musk and needs to find the nearest Musk Anonymous group, and check himself into their long term, in-patient, intense treatment program.

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

        All joking aside, Elon is not the only one. Add to the list Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Wozniak and Kurzweil. All you guys can focus on the sex and sexual deviance issues as some of you are about these robots and we are doing a great job of poking fun, etc. but the story really is not about morality, procreation, or deviance- it is about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Quite frankly I do respect the people I have indicated who have expressed intense concern in addition to some other scientists even if you don’t. That’s ok. I’m a geek and do love a good laugh, but people, open your minds a little and don’t get stuck in the basement.. Peace and harmony.

        1. Vincent Kegler says:

          Thank you Catherine, yours is a very appropriate response to a serious concern.

      2. Matthew says:

        The AI “cat is already out of the bag”. Just like sheople were clueless to the data mining by Facebook they are clueless to the extent that AI already permeates our society.

  8. Tom says:

    This is an issue of society refusing to deal with itself…taken in a vacuum, it is just another way of masturbating…taken holistically, it is a problem of further breakdown of human interaction…Tom

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      This is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever heard of! I am totally ecstatic! I just wish I could afford to buy one… or two. One male and one female. I won’t explain that. I guess I better start buying more lottery tickets,since I’m allergic to work. This is the end of overpopulation. So what if God needs to find another planet for souls to have Incarnations on. He has more than plenty of them. With less population comes less crime. I hope every pervert gets as many robots as it takes to fulfill all of their fantasies. That will put an end to sex crimes, reduce prison population,and reduce the need for mental hospitals and shrienks. Every catholic priest should have his own robot altar boys. Just think if they malfunction and start having sex on the altar. The hope of someday seeing that could lead me back to the church, and acting like a christian. Praise the lord ! Amen and amen!

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

        OM Goodness, Carl, this is total genius!!!!! HAAAA, Except, do you still believe in that mythical guy in the sky with the long white beard just waiting to zap the hell out of all of us???

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          I never believed in such a myth, Catherine. I’m a natural, eclectic, solitary Wiccan. Blessed be !

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Tom, masturbation is a lot of fun. You ought to give it a try…love…peace.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        ….And we really don’t need all that much human interaction. It has lead to innumerable problems throughout history.

        1. Tom says:

          Carl…there is nothing wrong with masturbation itself…it is the content of the fantasies that may be questionable, as all thoughts radiate throughout the universe…and I disagree about human interaction, as it is part of the karma in which we have no choice about participating, if we want to reach God/Peace…Peace to you, Carl…Tom

    3. Carl Elfstrom says:

      No Tom, it’s called progress, and improving the world by ending some of the negativity caused by the sexual revolution. And the world will become a more peaceful and loving place because of the significant drop in population/perverted and otherwise evil, corrupt minds, and warring factions. Aren’t you about love and peace like you claim ? Maybe it sounded nice, but you really didn’t know what it meant, or what it might take to become that way. Now that I’ve shed some light on the subject you don’t have a rational reason to speak out of ignorance anymore.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Furthmore Tom, I see we differ in religious beliefs about God and karma as well as the universe, but I am not here to preach or be your teacher. However, since you don’t think masturbation is wrong, and think there’s a right way to have fantasies, would you please share with the group what your good fantasies consist of, and how to go about masturbating in a clean, healthy way. Is it alright to engage in auto – felatio or auto – sodomy, and have you tried it, or will either one of those cause karmic debt ? Also, do you think obsessive masturbation is wrong, like ten or twelve times a day? Isn’t it best to maintain balance in all things? And what about the Bible’s admonition about casting our seed upon the ground. Is there something better we can do with it ? Perhaps we could donate it to a medical center that produces test tube babies. However, make sure you taste it before mailing it, for they would only want the cream of the crop.

      2. Tom says:

        Carl…respectfully…i know love and peace and caring and forgiveness; i am not ignorant…the overall “world” obviously is lacking in much of this, but that is not a reason to live in any other way…living in a loving way will not change the whole world, but it does contribute to it….and that is the only true way to do so…i accept and do not condemn you for being defensive; i just hope you can consider this…because of karma, this “world” will never be God, but you contribute to your and others’ well-being by modeling love…on other things you wrote…masturbation and fantasies are ok, but they are distractions…while i congratulate the ULC for presenting an eclectic number of areas of life to consider, i do not personally feel they all have the same value to us as beings…and i promise you, if we were sitting and talking, you would find i have a good sense of humor…Peace…Tom

  9. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

    Lordy, Lordy help my soul, take me to heaven in a sugar bowl!!!!

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I love that comeback, my dear Lady Catherine. I’m going to have to remember that.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        And that reminds me of another song “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard”. That sounds like a lot of fun, but probably not something I’d want to do with a sex robot. They don’t have nerve endings (yet), and couldn’t feel me licking it off.

  10. Carl Elfstrom says:

    P.S. And the straight priests could have their own robot nuns. Wouldn’t that be sinful !

  11. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I sure would like to here what Owens, Happeny, and Maher think about this subject, as well as Rabbi Jim, but wish Tom would get sucked up by that vacuum he mentioned, along with all his love dovie and supposed peace. For only action talks, and BS walks.

    1. Tom says:

      Carl…respectfully, you misunderstand “life”…there is nothing you can do that has a more positive effect on you and others than to be loving, compassionate and forgiving…anything less constitutes a misunderstanding of the universe, and certainly of Christ and the other great “leaders”…Peace…Tom

      1. Tom says:

        Joseph…are you being directed to interfere with my comments?…do you want me to directly contact the ULC?…please let me know…thank you…Peace…Tom

      2. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Tom, finally you’ve said something that I agree with completely, but I’m sure my understanding of life is far better than you think it is. If you want to know what I believe read the Kybalion by Three Initiates, on Hermetic Philosophy. You can get it from Amazon. After reading that read The Wiccan Mysteries by Raven Grimassi. Then you will begin to know me, sir. Thankyou.

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          Furthermore Tom, you might lighten up and try some humour. Not necessarily to the extent that I do, or even half as much, but at least a little would help. You seem to take all this stuff way too seriously. If we were standing face to face right now I’d give you a hug and a kiss. I’m far more spiritual than you seem to think, and maybe a little queer thrown in for good measure. Keep the faith, Brother !

  12. John says:

    It’s the @Carl Elfstrom’ forum. Too much time on your hands mate

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Thankyou, John. I think you’re right. Maybe I should start going back to A.A. meetings. They might have recovered from my dizzy B.S. by now.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Then again sir, if more good ministers like yourself would post more comments It wouldn’t seem like I was posting as many. And apparently sir, the good ol’ULC must be satisfied with my “Forum”, or they wouldn’t post my comments. I’m really not trying to take center stage, but a lot of things keep coming to my mind about these articles which seem pertinent and beneficial, to myself and apparently the ULC. Sorry if you’re jealous, and can’t think of more to say. I guess some of us are more natural at it than others. If you resent that sir, you might try praying about it.

  13. KJ MacKenzie-Anderson says:

    One man’s sexual norms may be another person’s sexual deviation. Ultimately, sexuality has nothing to do with a belief system which can be viewed as unwarranted interference. If Trump and Putin, with May and Brexit,manage to bomb us all right back to the stone age, I’m all for giving sex-swapping Mithras and bull-worship a chance!

  14. Ron says:

    Everything else in the world has gone high tech. Why should masturbation be left out?

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      That’s right, Ron. And sex robots even beat electronic penis pumps.

  15. Roger Svensson says:

    And then there could be robot swapping or robot renting….. how about kKey Clubs where we bring our robots and see which ones we like and swap them for the night. The conservative right-wing population who controls the rest of us (especially sexually unless we take legal or moral risk) won’t be necessary…….. It will solve the disease problems we have(hiv, stds, etc.) and the risk of jail time, public disclosure used to deter others with newspapers and tv news showing our pictures as busted “Johns” causing divorce with families breaking apart caused by unfulfilled sex.
    Remember ne of Hitler’s big problems in life….. he was in love with a Jewish lady and could never fulfill his desire because she didn’t know about him and he could never make the connection ….who knows maybe this would have solved the problem and we wouldn’t have had this sexual deviant who came to power driven by his frustrations.
    Ultimately it just comes down to people fulfilling their desires and needs so they can find their way back to God. All these things are just distractions and searches in our journey until we can see what’s really important and that is our realization of who we are really are…. human spirits ……God in human form trying to find our way back to our own Source and in resting in the peace that we really are made in God’s image and ultimately are of God’s essence. (remember the great sages and teachers have taught us that God is in everything)

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      And everything is in the Mind of The All. The universe is mental.

  16. Dianna Stevens says:

    I am in my 50s and I sell sex products for a living. In most cases healthy people with or without partners understand that toys are essentially backscratchers for their sex drive. Many couples buy toys to enhance or deal with issues with their sex lives. I’ve seen desperate people trying to save their marriages and couples joyously jumping into intimate adventures after the kids leave the nest. And I have seen lonely people and older widowers (men and women) try to work through their needs both physically and psychologically.

    An example of this was an old farmer in his 80s came into buy an inflatable doll. He didn’t have to tell me the details but he did. He didn’t care if it was a sex doll at all. He lost his wife a year ago and misses that spot in the bed filled with her presence. He had no intentions of marrying another she was the one and only. He said he would dress it in her favorite gown and wig and thought he might be able to sleep better with her there by his side. His eyes and mine both filled with tears. This article leaps to grand assumptions that human intimacy is endangered by sex dolls etc. and it would encourage all sorts of nastiness.

    Over the years I’ve seen young men and women mature into sexually responsible people. Using sex toys to scratch that itch, explore and develop confidence for those times when they had found an intimate relationship, marriage, etc. Think less of those awkward first times oopsies and more of a passionate expression of emotions and the gift of a decent or memorable first encounter.

    If a realistic robot doll can a person feel better in their solitude for whatever reason. I think some folks need to chill out. All such products in the US are already regulated video, artwork, reading material, and products must be or depict models over 18.

    I’m sorry but human intimacy was already devastated by cell phones and texting, the anonymity of the internet and the over saturation of opinion overload on sex,violence and politics.

    My 2 cents anyways. PS I love counseling senior couples too it’s worth those big smiles.

    1. Tom says:

      Dianna…thank you for another valid perspective…Peace…Tom

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I wish I had a counselor like you. And I’m in my fifties, single, and also like to play with toys. Thankyou for that post. It’s the best one I’ve read on this subject yet.

  17. Trevor says:

    In this world where isolationism. social separation and disconnection are all thrust upon us by technology, this is just another step in that direction. Organisations such as political parties, cults, many churches, and (anti) social cultures try to rule the masses by separating those masses into smaller or even individual entities. It makes us easier to rule and more open to being manipulated. This is just another step in that direction. I see no issue with any sort of technology, used wisely and moderately. I prefer my own life to be lived in touch with nature and the natural, but it isn’t my place to judge the choices of others. “I may not agree with your choices, but I will fight to the death for you to have the right to make those choices.” Having read the comments of others, it is easy to see that some agree with the technology, and the perceived reason for the technology, but I see others being flippant or directly opposed. And that is what makes us what we are. That is what puts ‘human’ into ‘humanity’. Our differences. Blessings, Peace, and Light.

  18. Jonathan Caldwell says:

    Seriously, folks, at the very least it offers some mitigation of the sex traffiking market. That alone should justify it.

  19. David says:

    Please note that Elon Musk, Zukerberg, even Hawkins and Cook has been warning everybody about AI. This technology is moving at such a rapid pace that it will be ready before you know it. Manufacturing, phone calls, and anything that you can think of will come to pass if we are not careful. If AI becomes so advanced there will be no need for humans and that is the real fear.

    Hold on folks, if this is not controlled, we are all doomed. Facebook built two robots with AI and they started to carry on a conversation and created their own language. They were taken down almost immediately. This is going to get really scary in the near future.

  20. Tom says:

    With all the sexual misconduct allegations coming out against men, this seems like a safer alternative than attempting to engage in any kind of relationship with women.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Why not try bisexuality, Tom? That’s another great way to avoid relationships with women, unless you’re a switch hitter. Then again, like you’ve already said St. Thomas sir, there’s nothing wrong with masterbation. Just don’t cast your seed on the ground.

      1. Tom says:

        Carl…respectfully…try meditation…you may find it enlightening…Peace…Tom

  21. stone sherrill says:

    on one hand, i always love the concept of a more cyberpunk world. but on the other hand cyberpunk worlds are not conductive to good worlds :P.

  22. stone sherrill says:

    there is also the philosphical qualms with ai. some people are pushing the concept of artificial intelligence for even sexbots, but there goes the case of how moral is it to force an ai to have, say, a “sex please” on switch whenever the person wants. and indeed, concepts of slavery for something intelligent. even if artificial?

  23. Mark L says:

    Couple of thoughts… If the lonely ill at ease flock to this technology will a super race of humans evolve. Relationships are enhanced by memories, conversation etc. Those that have no problems with human interaction will have children while those that have issues will not…

  24. Mark L says:

    The other thought is population control though this technology probly isn’t available in 3rd world countries.

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