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AI expert says that ‘sex robots’ will be mainstream in 10 years (sextechguide.com)
45 points by begrudger on June 11, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

I worry about the ever increasing ways, humans have to escape reality, and isolate themselves.

Drugs and alcohol. Video games, soon, full immersive. Streaming videos. Porn. One demand deliver of everything. Sexbots, coming soon. More remote work.

Literally someone could work, eat, and never leave their house if they wanted to.

It seems like technology is already making people more isolated. I really worry about this.

The purpose of technology is to make peoples lives easier and more controllable, and it turns out that dealing with other people is often hard and introduces uncontrollabilty.

Technology is an alternative solution to many of the same problems that we used to have to use community to solve.

Finding ways to build community when we aren't forced to group together for survival is one of the big challenges of modern life.

On the other hand, technology also provides us with reasons to connect (shared digital activities), it breaks down the barriers of connection (time and space, and increasingly language), it reduces the cost of connection, allows us to share other peoples lives in a way that was previously impossible.

Most of what most people do on the internet is build community, real community, so even while we're contemplating the dangers, let's not get too pessimistic.

Technology more and more transforms from a solution to a problem as social interactions are essential to being a human. Connecting to people digitally can't replace real contact in person.

Technology doesn't take anything away from those that actually want to have contact with other people in real life.

Counter-argument: trying to hold a dinner conversation with people or have a meeting when people are glued to the latest bubble news on their phones.

Hm... Sounds like they're fine, only you see this as an issue - I don't see how imposig your values on them would be an acceptable solution. I guess a better solution eould be having dinner with people who value the same thing as you do (dinner conversation).

If, as I sometimes hear floated around the web, we're approaching a future where massive sections of the population aren't necessary/useful for productive economic endeavors, these pacifying tools may well be a good thing. Or at least a small comfort to anybody on the wrong side of the social ladder.

So... Ready Player One.

We have to recreate neighborhood congregations. Topical meetup groups that meet weekly with social activities to build a local community. Kid-friendly activities that happen during meetups so people can bring their whole families. Congregations that become so strong that people choose neighborhoods by the types of congregations that exist in the neighborhood. Like cohousing[1], but with a lower barrier to entry.

[1] http://www.cohousing.org/what_is_cohousing

It's well known that isolation causes negative psychological effects, which makes me wonder if we'll ever get to a point where technology really can act as a substitute for human interaction.

The next 50-100 years when AI really takes off is going to be an interesting time.

I've been thinking about this and I came to the realization that it perhaps is a missing parameter from the Drake equation i.e. every sufficiently advanced civilization will "VR" itself into lethargy and wither away due to innovation coming to a complete standstill before this civilization spreads across multiple solar systems.

People escape reality when reality sucks. I'm not sure without technology their lives would be much better. Less isolated? Maybe, but also possibly not for the best. Isn't no company is better than bad company?

I mean nowadays someone can spend the whole day on internet without talking to anyone. Is it sad? Well, consider that during this day he can have worked on a state-of-the-art free and open source software, discussed about it on IRC with developers all around the world, played chess online with a Grandmaster, followed free physics lessons on Coursera, asked a question to a famous personality on a reddit AMA, and so on.

What would have he done without technology? I don't know, but if he's the typical lower class worker, his day would typically have ended up drinking a few beers in a pub.

I'd say video game wise, a lot of them are very much less isolating than they used to be. Think about how many of the popular games out there are single player only in this day and age. Fairly few to be honest, most have online multiplayer modes, voice chat, etc. And that's even without getting into the socialising effects of conventions, tournaments/eSports, online communities and forums about them, etc.

That's less isolating that a lot of things. Old school monks and hermits and lone philosophers and scientists were probably more isolated then than a lot of gamers and folk on the internet are now.

Video games have huge variation in social quality. I got a cold this week and played some Left 4 Dead 2, since I hadn't played it in a long while. Immediately made some friends and chatted with them about their band. It was kind of shocking.

But it's a pretty good setup for it. Voice chat with 4 people who are incentivized to cooperate; can kick people as needed. The social experience in most games is pretty bad.

On the other hand: Technology also makes it so we are less isolated. The more realistic some of this stuff is, the less isolated we'll feel - hopefully. It has potential to lessen some of the encounters we dread and some of the work we dread - no one really wants to be treated like a fast food worker. Some of us would really rather not deal with random people when we are shopping.

Folks in new cities have instant communication with loved ones, and some of us meet folks and fall in love. The more realistic this stuff is, the less lonely some of that stuff might feel.

Sexbots can easily mean that a well-matched but sexually incompatable couple could have a stable relationship, for example, each with their own respective sexbots. Or a happy couple could get a pair to enhance their own relationship or to explore things their partner isn't as comfortable with. My spouse and I (who met on the internet and used to live on different continents) actually plan on getting 2 (at the same time to avoid akwardness) when they become affordable.

It might be that along with learning normal stuff, we learn different sorts of things in school to help take care of our psychological selves so we don't fall in a trap, but I doubt any of that will be needed. It won't really feel like we are isolated in the sense of solitary confinement, and in a generation or two it'll all seem a pretty natural way of life.

The universe is filled with planets. Those planets are filled with life. And beneath every rainforrest on every planet, there are sunken city's, with lots of single rooms, in every one a mummified skeleton in a cable sakrophage, on every wall scratched the last words - "Social stress avoidance aka Loneliness solves the Fermi-paradox"

You missed social media. I know people who spend hours on facebook each day!


"We haven't finished inventing it yet, but when we do it'll be awesome."

Seems about right.

I live in an area of Shenzhen under massive construction (like much of China). Surrounding my apartment complex on three sides are constructions projects filled with many thousands of migrant workers- all male. They will be working on the project for at least six months before they can go home. Shenzhen has modernized- so has no real “red light district” like it used to or some Chinese cities still have. There is no chance these men can have sex for at least 6 months. When they go home there is a very good chance they still will not be able to have sex since most young women have migrated to the cities. These men are all very polite. I have never experienced anything worse than a shy smile. How long will that last for?

Of course a meal made by a wife tastes best, a husband who carries your bags most romantic, a true lover- of course, but Chinese have to be realistic due to our circumstance. So are very, very interested in automating some forms of manual labor. This technology is spoken of all the time. We have few other options if we want to keep a stable society. Most of those options are not very good for women.

So, if one has a device attached to ones genitals and it is remote controlled by another person does that constitute adultery or masterbation? If it is a script controlling it based on physiological responses?

I suspect that the phone sex lines that exist are more masterbation than adultery - but then phone sex with ones girlfriend is what?

Human sexuality - complicated innit. Won't get simpler with robots in the way.

> So, if one has a device attached to ones genitals and it is remote controlled by another person

There's a word for that, and it's "teledildonics". The term was invented by none other than Ted Nelson.

I would say that a positive effect of sex robots could be the reduction (and possibly elimination) of female human trafficking. Overall, I don't think people will just abandon human contact, but the underserved segment of people who already struggle with those social norms will have a better outlet - rather than providing a market to a horrible and dehumanizing industry.

I hope you are right, but I am also halfway expecting to see someone complain at some point that sex bots are just another form of automation taking our jobs and yet another reason why we need basic income.

In other news, Boston Dynamics announces their latest pivot.

I would imagine that humans will maintain a wide variety of relationships with "sex robots", with some treating them mostly as tools/appliances and others seeking social relationships.

Interestingly, I've been a researcher in the field of human-robot interaction for around five years now and sex robots are for the most part unexplored within HRI academic research.

Frankly I don't think sex robots will be worse than pornography or prostitution.

In the end, it will become monopolized, organized prostitution, you will have to marry your sex-robot. Catholic. And have at least one offspring (either machine or man).

Great. The more options the better. For the men and women who can't form relationships. This is better than nothing.

Maybe this can be a good thing. Market competition providing an alternative for certain, shall we say, needs, means that the ones providing them in the past need to compete in other ways and provide more value.

On the flip side, you think the marriage rates are low now? Just you wait...

> On the flip side, you think the marriage rates are low now? Just you wait...

Is this a bad thing? If there are people who would prefer a sex-bot partner over getting married, how good would you expect their counterfactual marriages to be? Would it be better if someone took the sex-bot option away and they got married instead?

And I don't think under-population is the problem we're facing...

    “What if it’s your first time – your first sexual
    experience? What are you going to think of the opposite
    sex then? What would they think a woman or a man
    actually is?”
I've never really understood this mindset.

To pick a random example, lets say that someone's first experience of playing football is from a video game. They may end up with a "warped perspective" of what the game is like to play in reality. But is that a damaging and harmful thing? I don't think so. And I don't see why sex should be treated much differently than any other activity.

You understand that football is a sport, a game, with few long-term consequences outside of the game; sex is usually a deeply emotional experience with many short and long-term effects on body and mind very different from sports.

Eh. I'm not sure about the comparison, but sports certainly have many short and long-term effects on body and mind. My knee still hurts from high school football 10+ years ago and my experiences playing heavily influenced my personality today.

Seems that exactly one of the changes brought about by pornography is that young people decreasingly see sex that way.

Historically, antibiotics and birth control have a well proven impact of that sort. This was not just a phenomenon of the 1960s. Other historical times and places where you could prevent pregnancy and disease also saw the flourishing of "free love" philosophies.

Actual serious consequences is a big part of what drives people to view sex as very serious business. Most people are happy to see it as just another form of play time if you can nix the threat of death, maiming and babies with a fairly high degree of confidence.

Sex has long been a far more casual activity than commonly portrayed. So, people often have huge misconceptions about people's behavior both past and present.

When I have spoken about sex with people older than myself, I have sometimes been told "Well, TV went off at 9pm and there just wasn't anything else interesting to do between 9pm and going to sleep" or words to that effect. (Hippies explained: "It was 9pm and we were bored.") Similarly, I knew someone who traveled a lot for work and casual hookups were just a thing to do when trapped in a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Sex still has some difficult biological consequences such disease but vr or robots could be fully sterilized of disease. Though zika virus and various stds are still here sadly, if we don't get cures I could see bots becoming big especially with disease phobic millenials.

I think we already have this "problem" anyway, and have seen it's solvable. There's this thing about porn or porn addiction that can desensitize people, or excessive masturbation leading to the "death grip" syndrome.

So we have both psychological and physiological causes of not being able to maintain a good "IRL" sexual performance due to a history of excessive and, perhaps at least as important, different stimuli. BUT... The brain can usually easily be retrained if you abstain from those practices. It may take a month or even two, but following this, restore regular dopamine levels when aroused IRL, restore sensitivity, and so on. I see no reason sexbots will be any different.

So I think sexbots will just be a new means that may cause old problems. But also as usual, the more you do things in moderation, the less of a problem they'll probably be. Sure, the old problem with addiction may rear its head again especially among people prone to getting addicted of sex, gambling, alcohol, etc, but I think this is as usual not the problem of a product, but of a personality. The best solution to that is not to withdraw products, but to learn about your addictive personality and take note when you're developing dangerous patterns or perhaps best of all just avoid risking it altogether by steering clear of risky products.

It's a damaging and harmful thing when it creates unrealistic expectations that actually affect other people. What happens when a young man gets upset at a young woman for not being as compliant with his sexual desires, or as physically flawless, as a sexbot? It already happens with porn, after all.

>What happens when a young man gets upset at a young woman for not being as compliant with his sexual desires, or as physically flawless, as a sexbot?

The same thing that happens when young men discover that young women aren't as compliant with their sexual desires as is their hand and or sock, or if you are really advanced a microwaved melon.

Also I think it's a bit silly to focus on men only, especially considering that the sex toy industry pretty much exclusively was focused on women. Sex toys for men only started to really come out less than a decade ago (e.g. Flesh light), vibrators have been around since the 1930's, and dildo's have been around since we learned how to carve bone.

I definitely can't live up to the expectations women might get from some of those ancient stone dildos.

What happens when...

Potential built-in population limiter?

Also, once perfect sex bots become The Norm, there will be people who fetishize actual sweat, imperfections, etc. Real Sex will become some new way to Get Your Freak On.

Human sexuality is surprisingly malleable and adaptable. Otherwise we wouldn't have the problem you are currently decrying.

It is potentially harmful to the possibility of having a real and satisfactory relationship to another living, breathing human being. But I think that actual relationships are so often seriously problematic that the practice of defaulting to them is largely dependent upon there being no other viable options. Historically, women being financially dependent upon men is a big part of why women put up with men at all. As women move into the work force and can support themselves, this raises the bar on what they expect from a man in a relationship. Having sex bot options is better than having no options.

Please note I say this as someone who really likes men, a lot more than many women seem to. But I have been alone for over 11 years in part because I am determined to never again be financially dependent upon a man. I view it as a deal with the devil. It made sense for purposes of raising kids, but it did terrible things to my life and to my relationship to my husband and I am unwilling to live that way again. The default societal expectations for what a woman should put up with are pretty unappealing.

Society is changing on multiple fronts, not just this one. Those changes are going to go forward with or without sex bots. Many of those changes are going to undermine our historical expectations for what sex and relationships are all about. This is already occurring in ways that many people fail to recognize because so many people have so little understanding of what life was like for the common man prior to their own firsthand experiences. But these changes shall march on anyway. In fact, these changes may be part of what is driving interest in and demand for other options where you do not have to put up with someone else in order to get your sexual needs met.

Great analogy! When you play football in a video-game you don't see the physical toll the game takes on your body. When your first experience with sex is virtual, your impossible expectations might put-off your partner. Also your penis is probably not that big.

Because one thing is a simple game, and the other is a fundamental social interaction.

How you first learn about sex affects how you treat other human beings -- including as mere rape targets for example...

Eventually graduating from virtual football to real football where other people are involved and can get hurt isn't a societal necessity (or even particularly likely).

Yeah. For that matter, I think it's common wisdom that people's first times having sex are often (though not always) awkward and not particularly satisfying.

I understand that there is a consensus that the easy availability of large amounts of pornography (and the subsequent large numbers of people who use pornography a great deal more than in previous generations) has altered how (a number of) young people think of the sexual act, the relationships that go with them, and the people involved (both the other people and themselves). Altered in a way that is damaging.




and so on.

There's a whole website (with science-backed material) devoted to curing men who experience mental and physical problems after watching too much porn:


Jesus, we are clearly way off message on this.

China will need this to prevent civil unrest, so it will probably be sooner

Civic unrest in China is much less probable than in the US.

And on the day the Apple iBot launched with add on "accessory", not a single soul could be found on reddit or twitch.

Certainly an easy way to keep people who suck from producing children.

Someone can easily end up as someone with no romantic prospects without being someone who "sucks". For example, being a male who has the "wrong" hobbies and interests or isn't naturally attractive enough to get the time of day from women of equal attractiveness. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but I'm sure this will resonate with the majority of males reading this who are exclusively into tech/aren't highly attractive.

People who exclusively suck tend not to get pregnant.

How long until robosexuals officially receive equal protection under the 14th amendment (for US robosexuals)?


  Why is it considered acceptable to enslave 
  AI robots
AI is largely hypothetical at the moment, and whether such things are ever acceptable or not will depend on the form AI eventually takes, if it ever exists at all.

"The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by Douglas Adams includes an animal that has been genetically engineered to want to be eaten [1]. If AI took a form where their personalities could be precisely configured, they could simply be configured to joyfully consent to whatever fate their creators had in store for them.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1nxaQhsaaw

I don't think these people are trying to develop general-purpose AI and then direct it at the problem of making a human-shaped machine behave sufficiently humanlike to make it a satisfying sex partner. That would be one of the most amazing cases of achievement without ambition that I've ever heard of. Like developing and perfecting room-temperature fusion so that you could deliver a washing machine that you didn't need to plug into the wall.

I think these people are trying to develop a human-shaped machine that behaves sufficiently humanlike to make it a sufficiently satisfying sex partner for a sufficiently large market. This probably means teaching it to hold a fairly restricted set of conversations, and (more importantly) to move around and handle physical contact in the right ways. Maybe they'll plug it into some other, more advanced services developed by other, larger companies to handle speech recognition and slightly broader conversations.

If someone does develop a library that anyone can use to instantiate a general-purpose AI, and that actually becomes the simplest way for these people to implement their product, I think they would instantiate it with an emotional makeup such that all they wanted to do was please their owner. In such a case, slavery would be unnecessary. (Is instantiating AIs with arbitrary emotional makeups immoral? The thing is, you probably have to pick some makeup, and choosing a potentially bad one at random is just as irresponsible as choosing it deliberately. The most obvious criterion, "Will this new AI I'm creating have a happy life?", would probably be easy to satisfy.)

So, what is it about sex that makes you think this is "slavery" but the computer you are currently typing on is not somehow being abused or enslaved? Why are you not arguing against the enslavement of dildos or other sex devices? What is it about (so called) intelligence that makes a thing somehow imbued with rights in your eyes?

I am not being snarky. The creation of something new like this winds up bringing up questions that did not exist previously. In order to determine a "moral" answer here, you are going to need to figure out the parameters under which morality applies to sex bots and the reasons why it applies. Otherwise, it is no different from a toaster: Just a thing you buy to take care of some need of yours.

I'm not sure you can say it's considered acceptable or unacceptable at this point. We haven't decided as a society yet, because they don't exist yet.

You own your computer as long as you need it and then throw it away. AI is just a better computer running more advanced software.

Can these questions be answered? What would an answer to any of these questions even look like?

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