Technology has a habit of imposing itself upon us – like it or not. The smartphone is the perfect example, it’s an extension of our organic brain that we carry around in our pockets. It’s more than technology, it powers our functional and emotional lifestyle. Naturally the smart has evolved from being a communications device to one that can now think for itself in order to help us with our everyday needs. Every major technology company is developing A.I. technology in some way, it sits inside our phone, in our homes and cars and soon it will be inside our bodies. Technology companies will know more about us than anyone else (except god, maybe). Dataism is the new religion worshipped by billions of people, in fact more than any other faith. God and the soul maybe unexplainable but Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos are.
I love technology, I enjoy everything about it and I’m happy to give away data in exchange for the benefits technology brings. What I am concerned about however is the subject of ethics around A.I. Sure we need ethics and A.I. needs unbiased inputs from everyone in society, not just data collected from the worlds wealthiest and programmed by Caucasian or Indian Stanford grads. I worry about the emotional impact A.I. could be trained to handle and I support causes such as Open AI founded by Elon Musk (CEO Tesla & Space X) and Sam Altman (President of Y Combinator, a startup incubator in Silicon Valley, Sam probably sees more ideas and future tech than anyone else on the planet).
The sex industry is a technology pioneer and innovator that has gained the attention of both men and women for decades. Sex toys are booming and becoming very smart, take a look at teledildonics, the term given to sex toys that can be operated via the internet without the need to ever touch in person, (great for long distance intimacy with a loved one). There are books that you can read whilst having a sex toy placed intimately on or inside the body that comes alive at just the right moment and of course there are sex dolls. Bordoll is a brothel near Dortmund in Germany where men can go and have some fun with a realistic looking doll that move, speak seductively and moan with sounds of pleasure when touched. Bordoll is the result of success seen Kontakthof, a brothel in Vienna where the doll – Fanny was outselling to real girls. Things are so progressive in this space that there is even a sex toy for transgender men called Buck Off.
Sex dolls are a social and political midfield. Can it be regulated? In China, with its one child policy, many female babies were killed or abandoned resulting in an imbalance of male to females and unsurprisingly these men are finding it difficult to find a partner. What has this one child policy done to the psychology of young men? What are the alternatives they are seeking and how do they view women? Pornography is already known to warp the minds of young boys who’s ideal women is far from reality they imagine. So popular was Ta Qu, a Chinese app that offered sex dolls for rent that it was closed down because of how embarrassing its success was! You can bet the closure of Ta Qu has resulted in an underworld of trading sex dolls, a world that’s ungoverned, uncontrolled and open to sexually transmitted disease.
Sex toys are endorsed by the World Health Organisation as a right, it asserts: “rational and satisfactory experience of sexuality is a requirement for human development”. So does this mean we could see taxpayers funding sex dolls in the future? Could they be prescribed by your GP? Keep an open mind.
Sex dolls are available almost everywhere, from Germany to Ireland and of course Japan. Its here where it gets very concerning. Shin Takagi sells anatomically correct dolls of children as young as five. Takagi has admitted that he has “struggled with paedophilic impulses” and has been given the freedom to create what he does. Is this right? Can this prevent the real horrors of what some men will actually do?
Makers will argue sex dolls are safe and can prevent unwanted sexual advances but what is this doing to the male mind? How does a user get his next high? Roxxxy is a $9000 doll that comes with a range of personalities including ‘frigid Farrah’ in this mode the doll resists advances, therefore, providing the owner with the option of rape. Could this really prevent a real rape?
Today most sex toys are purchased by men however the market for women showing interests in sex dolls is not yet fully known, only 10% of California based RealDoll’s sales are women. The way we view sex dolls and robots is complex, some will clearly be worried about the psychological impact they are having on the minds of users, others could see them simply as high tech aids for masturbation. One thing is clear, in order to maintain some control, women need to be involved in every aspect of this emerging industry where the quest for artificial lust is growing. The bigger question is when will we see (conditional) human love developing for a robot? Love that may be perceived as simpler and free from human emotional complications. I say conditionally because we really only want reciprocal love on our terms, we need to be convinced that robots love us back, but we don’t ever want to face any form of rejection or it leaving us. We don’t want them to be real, but just real enough.
As I conclude this article I’ve just learnt that Sophia, the Hanson Robotics, Audrey Hepburn lookalike female A.I. robot has been granted citizenship in Saudia Arabia. It makes me question, what rights will robots have if they are granted citizenship? Will human’s be answerable to robots one day, robots that are more intelligent, beautiful and unbiased than humans…. Or will they be? Will we see a world where a robot could have a mood swing (a glitch in its input)? The dangers if this happens are obvious.