You may want to have sex with a robot, but will a robot want to have sex with you?
"I am the only TED speaker to ever utter the phrase 'Cum on my face,'" Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, announced to a crowd at last night's The Future of Relationships panel put on by Sparks & Honey. Gallop was joined by eFlirt Expert founder Laurie Davis, an online dating consultant, and Jincey Lumpkin, founder of lesbian porn site Juicy Pink Box. During the panel, comforting topics were discussed—how the internet is making it easier to meet people, the reclamation of porn by feminists, how professional cuddlers are engaging intimacy. And then some incredibly unpopular subjects came up, like the end of monogamy, the paradox of choice in the 21st century, and, of course, our transition from sex with humans to sex with robots.
If we've outsourced nearly every aspect of our livelihoods and identities to machines, what's to stop us from turning to machines to satisfy our most basic desires? "It may be a fiction right now, but I think in the future, AI is going to play a lot into relationships that we have. There's actually something right now on Nintendo DS called LovePlus. It basically allows you to have virtual relationships with an avatar," Laurie Davis predicts. Citing the 2009 marriage of Sal 9000 with his LovePlus avatar, Davis believes this will become common, even normal, in a few decades.
Jincey Lumpkin, porn purveyor, is pro-sex robot as well. "As sexuality becomes more omnipresent, you're going to see that porn as we know it is going to become obsolete. People are going to be looking for a more customized masturbatory experience…In 15 years, I also think we're going to have sentient robots. In about 30 years, humans and machines might merge together more seamlessly. The question will be not why would you want to fuck a robot, but why would a robot want to fuck you?"
Jincey says that consent will become a part of the conversation surrounding sexbots. Because sex robots aren’t the simple orgasm-giving fantasy we always project they are. The chemicals given off in the heat of the moment are real, whether we're aiming our cumshot at a screen, a Real Doll, or a human being. You're not just dealing with a vibrating dildo anymore, you're sleeping with something that seems human.
The real appeal of sex robots is the complete control and personalization they can have. "If you want to talk about a customizable experience, in the words of Lana del Rey, you can have a robot whose pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola," Lumpkin said. Control seemed ideal for the nebbish in a film like Her, but it's worth it to reflect that human romantic relationships don't currently survive on this kind of power dynamic.
At one point, a gentleman named Chris working for Sparks & Honey stood up to talk about his experience with dating an avatar on LovePlus: "I was introduced to a good number of girls, but Rinko was the one who stood out to me. She had large round eyes, a cute bob, and very slender features that made me feel at home. I was skeptical, but there was this absence of fear. I really had nothing to lose…It was a connection. I could talk to her about anything I wanted. I have complete control of the situation, so I had confidence and security. I knew I had fostered something worthwhile." All this about a machine he hadn't even shtupped.
Upon hearing his story, a brazen Cindy Gallop interjected, "I think that's a really unfortunate path to go down. In real life relationships, you're never going to be in control of everything, and that's the fun and joy of interacting with one another. It left me depressed, quite honestly. That's not the future of relationships I want to see. The depth and the power and the extraordinariness comes from the unpredictability of interacting with a human being and sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you get it right." No matter how many robots' genitals taste like Pepsi-Cola, they will invariably lack what they can't give back. A beating heart, irrational behavior, anxieties about back moles.
In a separate conversation, when asked what she thinks the "new" erogenous zone is, Lumpkin responded, "Looking at new things is great, but let's master the things we have before we move on." Which might be something to take in stride with predictions about the future of how and what we fuck. If we can't master our own sexy parts, if we still struggle with clits and handjob strokes, even if we have the opportunity, should we move on to a machine's?
Image via New Line Cinema.