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Are Sexbots Realistic? Made For Love Series (2021), Book (2017)

The HBO series, Made for Love, amusingly explores how technology can turn a person into the equivalent of a subservient sex doll but, unlike the book, oddly ignores the real world advances in artificial intelligence for sexbots. So… how realistic are sexbots? Answer: Very.

A report from the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, Our Sexual Future with Robots, says that possibly the biggest investment in AI for robotics is for the sex doll industry. There is a big financial incentive in sex dolls to making progress in avoiding the dreaded Uncanny Valley by making the robots look and act more natural. You can learn more about the science and scifi of sexbots below but check out the RTSF Made for Love podcast, the Science Robotics article on HBO Westworld and the Uncanny Valley, as well as the RTSF Sexbot topic.

In the series and book, the protagonist flees her tech mogul husband and The Circle-like existence to return home. She finds her the protagonist’s widower father is enjoying himself in his later years with a sex doll companion. In the series, the doll is a life-sized doll yet in the book, Diane is a robot that walks and has natural language capabilities- a fictional version of the real Harmony sex doll. Given that sexbots already exist and a business owner in Houston wants to set up a sexbot brothel, the series seems a bit retrograde. But the series, and the book, is a gentle reminder that relationships are tricky and technology may not make things better.

Besides, the difference between a person choosing an inanimate sex doll or a more expensive animated sexbot is a matter of personal preference, and thus outside of societal regulations, right?

What about sexual crimes? Are these sexual crimes if the robots don’t reach a Dolores or Maeve HBO Westworld level of consciousness? Would such people dive even further into the level of abuse that surrounded the robots in Vn?

And what about sexual crimes and children? over 120 sexbots the size of children have been confiscated by UK border security since March 2016. And some companies are working on more natural expressions of things like pain. At this point, the line between sex toy and sexual crimes begins to get blurry. One manufacturer says that the robots are there to help people with pedophilic tendencies act out their desires in safe manner that doesn’t risk children. Others say that this will embolden such people to act upon their urges, see the NBC story. Should laws like CREEPER (gotta love the acronym) be passed pro-actively before there is any evidence that sexbots is a gateway to sexual crimes?

This is why I really respect Dr. Aimee Van Wynsberghe and Dr. Kathleen Richardson and the research they are independently conducting into precisely these issues. Check out the RTSF podcast with Dr. Van Wynsberghe here.

Sexbots are a serious subject, but fortunately neither the series or the book Made for Love are downers; they are fairly humorous look at a very near future. And don’t fear, it isn’t all about sexbots; it’s part of the larger motif about classic intimidation and scary neurological manipulations that can make people love almost anything (or pretend to). I know, that doesn’t sound humorous, but it is. Definitely worth a watch or a read if you’re angry at the Facebook Amazon Netflix Google FANG dominated way of life.

- Robin


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