By Photograph own work, mannequin created by www.dsdoll.com, with permission granted from dsdoll.com [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

SPECIAL GUEST: Kate Aquino (Miss Metaverse). The future always looks downright weird when it's still out in front of you. And nothing is weirder when it comes to human beings than sex. Are we ready to meet the ultimate OTHER? Are we ready for SEX ROBOTS? Miss Metaverse herself joins us to dig into the strange, freaky, unusual and yet totally normal ways in which intimacy, sexuality, relationships and humanity will change in the years ahead of us. Recorded 1/18/2014.

 

You can download the episode here.

 

Mike & Matt's Recommended Reading:

Kate's Miss Metaverse/FuturistMM site

Kate's AwesomeFuture.TV

Kate Aquino (on Twitter)

Kate Aquino (on Facebook)

Sex Robots and the Future Of Gynoids (NSFW), by Kate Aquino (Miss Metaverse blog, 01/5/2015)

Uncanny Valley (on Wikipedia), the "creepy feeling" phenomenon experienced when robots are very realistic but not entirely real

Kiroo.com, the social network for teledildonics

Sinthetics.com, a sex doll site with incredibly lifelike products

Realdoll.com, one of the first realistic sex doll sites

BoyToyDolls.com, another sex doll site from the creator of the Real Doll - deliberately not realistic

Lars And The Real Girl (on IMDB)

Davecat (on Twitter)

Davecat's Blog

Roxxxy (on Wikipedia)

Her (on IMDB)

 

Transcript:

Alpha: Welcome to another episode of Robot Overlordz, episode #140. On the show, we take a look at how society is changing, everything from pop culture reviews to political commentary, technology trends to social norms, all in under 30 minutes, every Tuesday and Thursday.

Mike Johnston: I’m Mike Johnston.

Matt Bolton: And I’m Matt Bolton.

MJ: And joining us again is Miss Metaverse, Kate Aquino. Kate, thank you for joining us.

Kate Aquino: Thank you for having me.

MJ: So, last time we were talking about robots, and I think this gives us an interesting jumping-off point for one of the articles you have on your website, published January 5th it looks like. The title is Sex Robots and the Future of Gynoids. I think I’m pronouncing that right.

KA: Yeah, ge-noids, gy-noids--not a lot of people talk about the subject, so it’s a little difficult to think about what the pronunciation would be like.

MJ: How did you come to write that article?

KA: Well, it’s a topic that’s actually pretty fascinating to me. I think when we think about robots and where we’re headed, it’s only a matter of time for when we create sex robots. It’s a subject that’s pretty taboo but I think that there’s a lot of people out there who are actually waiting for the day that sex robots are made and when people can actually go and marry a robot. It’s pretty interesting.

MJ: It certainly seems like one of the biggest drivers of technology has been sex. Matt and I have talked before about the way that pornography contributed to the VCR even, and the success of VHS over beta. It seems like technology and sex are frequently tied together. Do you think that as a society we’re really ready for this idea of sex robots?

KA: Absolutely. I think that we’re already kind of going there now. There’s so many advanced adult toys that you see coming out every single year. Even just recently, there’s a new website called Kiroo that is kind of like a hook-up website I guess, where you can buy these teledildonics and basically have sex with strangers from all over the world. So, we’re seeing a lot of innovative technologies in that field and I think that sex robots are kind of a fantasy that a lot of people have. I actually ended up discovering a Kickstarter for a web series called Gigahoes, which I ended up becoming sort of a backer of this project. It was a web series by Adam Lash and Kevin Gilligan. They wanted me to come on their team to be a futurist to help them get a better idea of what kind of technology they should feature in their web series. This web series was one of the first, as far as I know, at least to capture what might happen when sex robots becomes a part of our society. The show actually follows a sex robot agency set in the future. So, it was pretty fun to be a part of, I must say.

MJ: You have to love Kickstarter for some of those more interesting concepts.

KA: Definitely. When I met Kevin and Adam, the creators of the show, I asked them straight away, “What inspired you to develop a show about sex robots?” He was like “Welp, I wanted to have sex with a robot.” When he said that… I mean, it’s probably a lot more common than people want to admit; it’s kind of a fantasy that people wonder about, you know? How realistic will these robots be? Will we be just like them? Will they be just like us? I think that part of the fantasy of it is that, unlike people, robots can be commanded what to do and I think that that has a lot to do with the whole fantasy side of it.

MJ: Do you think that possibly opens it up to abuse? Especially as robots get more advanced and maybe do achieve some form of consciousness, that we’re almost, at that point, creating a slave race that can’t fight back?

KA: I think that what we’re seeing is that our early robots--our robots are kind of being led into this indentured servitude. We are going to be seeing a lot of robots at home, health care, and I think that eventually there will be robots that become sort of like our ultimate assistants. I think that’s very possible. But there are a lot of activists out there actually that are beginning to put plans in place for the day that these robots become very much like us and they’re going to need their rights too. So, I think planning ahead for being what’s known as a synthetics activist is pretty interesting as well.

MJ: One of the things I always think of when the topic comes up is there’s an episode of Futurama, which I personally loved by not everyone got into, but where the main character, Fry, buys a sex robot. His friends all sit him down and they show him a video that’s sort of done like one of those old educational films--the teenager buys a sex robot and he becomes uninterested in everything, and all he does is spend his time with the robot and basically the human race almost goes extinct. They argue “Stay away from sex robots because of this.” Do you think that there’s going to be a lot of that criticism or activists campaigning against sex robots potentially?

KA: Well, I think that there are going to be a lot of people who are upset about sex robots, I think it’s definitely inevitable. It’s already happening now. When you look at sex toys today--I actually wrote this in my Sex Robots and the Future of Gynoids report--that these adult toys now that look like these synthetic replicas of women, whether it be whole life-sized women, which are also known as synthetics or love dolls, or even just these smaller women “parts,” I guess, that are made of silicon, they’re so realistic looking. It’s crazy how realistic they look now. All you need is the technology and they look like real women. Once the technology is there, I think a lot of people might end up being with these synthetics as real people. All we’re missing is really the artificial intelligence and the mechanical bone structure and then it’s here.

MB: I agree with you. You’re always going to have naysayers with every technology, but I think it will eventually get more and more accepted. I don’t think it will ever be to the point where people are like “Wow, that’s a great idea. Why don’t you bring your sex doll date along to the bar on friday night?” or whatever. But I think with virtual reality coming along, I think that will be the first step in this--actually, the internet was kind of the first step in getting sex into everybody’s home kind of for free of charge. I think it’s coming and it’s just going to take a slight change in people’s thought processes but I think it will be probably quicker than we think.

KA: One of the most concerning things is not just having sex robots being a part of our life but it’s actually synthetics in general. What we’re seeing is that there’s actually a holographic popstar in Japan who sells out concerts, and this holographic popstar is entirely digitized--it’s not a real person, no voice behind it. Everything, from top to bottom, is completely synthetic. I think what we’re going to see in the near future is that these synthetics, robots, artificial women, gynoids, they’re going to become models, they’re going to become celebrities, they’re going to be a part of our lives. We already have a problem with women feeling pressured to achieve this type of perfection that’s almost unattainable. As much plastic surgery as you could possibly have, we will never look like a synthetic perfect gynoid robot being. It’s physically impossible. It’s like the Barbie dolls, it’s the same problem. Just imagine when those Barbie dolls are walking around with us in life. It’s going to be a problem and it is going to happen, we are going to have these real Barbie dolls walking down the streets, and how is that going to affect our kids? How is it going to affect us women? At the same time, when that technology is there, would that also encourage women to become cyborgs or to become posthuman themselves because of these synthetics? That’s something that I wonder about.

MJ: Do you think that this plays into the trend, and I know social media has been criticized a lot about this, about how technology is actually making people more disconnected? There have been some documented studies on it about how it makes people either depressed to see how their friends are doing. Do you think this could maybe add to that trend of disconnection, or do you think it might actually improve things? I’m curious to know what you think about how this is going to impact the way people relate to each other. Really, the criticism that I got out of that Futurama video that they showed the character, Fry, was that the synthetic isn’t a replacement for a real relationship and that the character in that little educational film was filling his life with this kind of false promise. Obviously that’s a criticism, but for the people that are getting something that they maybe can’t get another way--it just seems like that’s going to be a very complicated mess. I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on that trend as well.

KA: What we’re really discussing here is technosexuality, and it’s the people who are attracted to robots or gynoids, or just basically robots in general, and this is becoming more and more apparent. We’re seeing more people becoming attracted to these synthetics. For instance, I recently ended up speaking with Davecat, who has been featured on TLC and a bunch of other programs because he’s married to two synthetics, or love dolls. It’s interesting because Davecat has become an activist for synthetic love and he has a lot of criticism coming to him because “Why can’t he just date a real woman?” A lot of people will often pathologize and fetishize somebody like Davecat, but at the same time, we have to take into account that some people just like robots, some people just like artificial women, it’s just something they particularly like and they’re awaiting the day that they can program their synthetic brides as robots. It’s a little hard to describe but I think that with as much criticism that there will ever be, we could say the same of people that criticize the pornography industry today. There will always be critics but that’s not going to stop the business from booming and it’s not going to stop people from choosing synthetics over real love.

MJ: For you as a woman, do you see a role for male sex robots or sex dolls? It seems like a lot of what’s out there is targeted towards male interests, that they would be female robots, and I think some of that goes along with what Matt was saying about the technology fields being dominated by men. Do you think that there will be a demand among women for this kind of thing too, or is it something that just interests guys?

KA: I think absolutely there’s going to be a whole business booming for women as well. One of the more impressive love doll companies, called Sinthetics--when you see their love dolls, they are strikingly real; when you see them, they look incredibly real. They offer men dolls as well, and a lot of these companies are offering men dolls, so I think that we are definitely seeing that both men and women are choosing to be with synthetics instead of real living humans. But I do think that in the future we’re going to see more women getting involved and also creating whole businesses just for women. Right now, sure, it is more male-dominated, but I do think that will change.

MB: Sorry, I’ve got a question but I’m trying to find a way in my brain to say it without making it sound weird.

KA: Oh, no, go for it.

MJ: I think we’re already a little bit in weird territory--certainly for some people. So, just spit it out.

MB: This is obviously a few years into the future, but you see the divorce rate increasing and people are becoming more enclosed almost, where they don’t really want to go out and whatever. So, you kind of wonder that if you had a robot who could clean your house and one to have sex with, do you think it’s going to at some point affect the human race because people won’t be procreating or anything because… why would you at that point? Why have another human around that you’re going to have to argue with or give half your stuff to when you get a divorce when you can just have a robot that, when it starts to annoy you, you can just turn it off and walk away?

KA: I think we’re going to see the convergence of quite a few technologies that are going to change the future, and one of those things is going to be machines becoming more like us, with us also becoming more like them. We could look at Japan today--Japan has been seeing a pretty steep population decline because I would say the technology is getting people to stay indoors, they’re not going out like you said, and I think that’s really affecting people. Right now, a lot of people are projecting that we’re going to have a population explosion. While that’s probably going to happen, I think that also at the same time that may be balanced out pretty greatly by a couple of different things, one being humans becoming cyborgs or neohumans, also there will be humans choosing to live with their synthetic brides or husbands. I think that having children in general in the future is just going to be a choice--just like how people can make a choice when they’re older to be single and raise a child on their own, I think that that’s going to happen more frequently in the future. I think you could have a child on your own and it wouldn’t be anything to think about, it’s going to become normal.

MB: You think there’s going to be a population boom in the near future?

KA: Well, there’s a lot of experts who believe that there will be a population boom in the future. And I do agree, I think we’re going to see an exponential increase of people in certain areas of the world. But I think that in the Western world particularly, with these types of technologies, I think it will probably become transhumans and cyborgs, and we’ll probably choose synthetic love, and that these technologies and such will probably have implications like a population decline or at least a plateau.

MB: That’s kind of what I was wondering because, at least inside the United States, it seems like we’re seeing a decrease in people who are having kids. People my parent’s age, it’s really nothing--my mom came from a family of six and a lot of their friends always had these huge families. Now if somebody has more than one or two kids, it’s kind of like “Wow, that’s strange.”

KA: It is much different today. A lot of people just simply can’t afford to have kids and a lot of people are just trying to find their way in the world when they’re thirty-five and forty-years-old. It’s different. I think what’s really important about the future too--we were discussing this early with transhumanism--is that I think we need to take into account just how everything is going to be changing. There’s just a lot.

MB: Yeah, there is. Technology is accelerating at an almost alarming pace and I think sex robots and all these other things that we’ve been talking about are going to follow that same pattern, that once it starts to hit it’s probably going to go very quickly.

KA: Absolutely, I think that is going to catch on and this is kind of like the end goal that a lot of us have been wondering about, is “What’s going to happen when we have singularity? What’s going to happen when we have robots? Will robots take our jobs and will we have sex with robots?”

MJ: One of the things that I found interesting--I just read an article about an artificial womb technology, and I think they were talking about it more for people that aren’t capable of having children. But it seems like that technology would open up--and I think you walked around this a little bit Kate--that people could have children on their own or external to them; kind of outsource the entire process of growing a human, so to speak, so that they don’t have to deal with some of the stuff that women have traditionally had to deal with associated with pregnancy. It seems like that certainly there’s a segment of the population that fears that those kinds of technologies would be opening a pandora’s box somehow. On the other hand, I think there’s some that might be very excited by those. I mean, if you’re a guy who’s afraid of relationships and doesn’t want to get into one because of the cost of divorce and all of that,that might be an option for you in the future. It seems like that’s another area of potential controversy I guess is what I’m saying.

KA: A new sexual revolution is coming--it’s coming right now, it’s starting. That’s going to be because of the sex robots, we’re seeing teledildonics, we’re seeing these new types of websites connecting people from all over the world and exploring themselves, and we’re also seeing that in 2018 male birth control is supposed to be releasing. Just imagine what male birth control is going to do and the social implications for having that. There’s a lot of things that might change with men being able to take control of that, besides condoms of course. I think that there’s a lot of different things that are going to be coming out as far as medical revolutions and technological revolutions that will change how we view relationships as well as children for sure.

MJ: One of the movies Matt and I talked about last year was Her and the kind of emotional relationship with a virtual assistant. Even in that movie, they dealt with the main character’s, played by Joaquin Phoenix, ex-wife, or soon-to-be-ex-wife at that point in the story, and her reaction to him saying he was dating an OS. It seems like these technologies are really making that so that it’s not at all an “out there” idea anymore and that it’s just right around the corner.

KA: I definitely agree. We even had this years ago--you could talk on websites and fall in love with artificial intelligence programs. Now there’s actually people out there who have created their own AI programs and their own robots who they’ve fallen in love with. So, while it’s not really in the mainstream yet, it’s definitely going to happen. For instance, when it comes to sex robots, we really didn’t touch upon which sex robots are actually out there now, and while there really aren’t any that are really, really impressive, there is one called Roxxxy. Did you hear about Roxxxy?

MJ: I have heard of Roxxxy before.

MB: Yeah.

KA: So, Roxxxy is supposed to be the world’s first sex robot and was created by Douglas Hines. She’s this 5’7” 60-pound sex robot that you can program with different personalities, like “Wild Wendy,” “Frigid Thera,” “Mature Martha,” and “S&M Susan.” ...Yeah. Oh, and the sex robots also have a voice that sound much like the MacTalk’s Victoria or Siri, so it’s definitely like being with a robot I guess. But when you see the actual robot, there’s definitely a lot more to be desired, I guess you could say. Right now, there aren’t any sex robots that really do go above and beyond. But I think we’re going to see really realistic sex robots probably within the next five to seven years, I think.

MB: What I find funny too is that really the only group of people--who I’ve seen, anyhow--that are pushing these sex robots is the sex industry. Honda has that robot that kind of walks, but it doesn’t really look like a person.

KA: Asimo?

MB: Yeah. Not to make fun of Asimo or anything, but I really wouldn’t want to have sex with Asimo or anything because it doesn’t look like a man or a woman. But it seems to me like the industry that’s going for life-like robots is really the sex industry, which seems to be pushing that technology.

KA: That’s the thing, is that a lot of these robotics companies purposely choose gender-neutral humanoid robots because of those kinds of issues, and then there are some companies who make humanoid robots, or very realistic robots, but they aren’t made for sex use. But at the same time, you can rent them for $3,000 for like three days and do whatever you want with them, so…

MB: Not to be crude, but it seems like a hooker would be more economical…

KA: Yeah. Well, I guess if you’re a real technosexual, whatever floats your boat… Wow. But listen, it makes us laugh, we giggle, it’s a weird topic to talk about, but it is going to happen. There was a report that came out back in I think it was about 2013 or so that described Amsterdam in the future as being the hotspot for robotic prostitution. I thought that was kind of interesting, that they were saying these sex robots have a lot of benefits actually, that they will eventually get rid of issues like human trafficking, human degradation and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases like we see in the world today. So, on the other hand, these types of sex robots and the creation of them, and I guess the exploitation of them, could have some positive issues as well in a way.

MJ: You mentioned robots becoming more like humans and humans becoming more like robots--do you think that these sex robots might, at some point, incorporate organic components? What I mean by that is I’m thinking of some of the 3D printing technologies, and I think I remember reading a case of a woman who had a 3D-printed vagina actually, and the thing that occurred to me when I saw that was if you paired that with these types of robots, then you’re essentially adding an organic component potentially. I wonder what your thoughts on that might be.

KA: I think we are going to get there for sure. I think that when it comes to the future, we are becoming more like machines, machines are becoming more like us, so eventually we’re going to get to some space somewhere in the middle and that’s going to be the future. What’s also interesting too though which we didn’t really touch upon in our other discussion concerning transhumanism is that not only are there organizations working towards evolving humanity into, say, cyborgs or these posthuman neohumans, but I’ve heard that the 2045 Initiative has actually been working towards creating a neo-humanity that’s holographic so that maybe in the future we’ll just be consciousness that you could upload into any avatar that you want, whether that be an avatar that’s made of human flesh, like a human avatar, basically like the movie Avatar where you grow a body in an artificial womb like you described before, and then we could transfer our consciousness into one of those bodies. Or, on the other hand, we could also just be consciousness floating around in some holographic universe--like the internet, but of consciousness. Or there’s also the possibility that we could just have totally synthetic bodies and just be walking around like some super attractive customized love dolls with mechanical bones and we could just upload our brains or consciousness into those bodies of our choosing and go about our lives.

MJ: You mentioned Avatar, that blue elf, how they had that kind of tail connection, or I guess organ--it seems like that would open up some really weird and interesting possibilities as far as sex goes.

KA: When it comes to the future and just generally what we’re going to be attracted in, say, another fifty years from now, I thought it was pretty interesting to see an artist on some popular design website who did a rendering of what humans are going to look like in, say, 2050. How those humans looked was basically digitzed art on their faces because in the future we’re going to be able to customize pretty much everything in different ways. I think the way we’re going to find attraction to one another is going to be a lot more than just how we become attracted to one another now. I think that sex and attraction today is going to seem really, really boring compared to how sexuality is going to be like in the future because people are going to be experimenting with so much more that we don’t do now.

MB: I’m assuming if there’s a robot, they don’t tell you no if you want to do weird stuff. But it really is true, it’s kind of like being able to do literally anything you want from a sexual standpoint and not having anyone there to tell you no.

KA: When I think about that, I think about Alan Watts and when he said “Just imagine if you were a god and all of a sudden you could do everything you ever wanted to in the world. Well, what would you do? You’d go out and you’d do it, and then afterwards, you’d want to start changing it up a little bit, so you’d throw in some challenges. Then at the end of it all, you’d erase your memory so you don’t remember a thing.”

MJ: Well Kate, thank you so much for joining us.

KA: Thank you so much for having me.

MJ: We’ll definitely have you on again.

MB: Absolutely.

KA: Definitely. And you can check out my website at FuturistMM.com. Also, you can hit me up on Twitter @MissMetaverse. Thank you for listening.

A: That’s all for this episode of Robot Overlordz. You can find our show notes, including links from this episode, on our website at RobotOverlordz.FM. That’s it for this radio broadcasting. We would love to hear your thoughts on this episode in our forum, or you can review us on iTunes. We’re Robot Overlordz with a Z.

MJ: Thanks everyone for listening.

MB: Thanks.

 

Image Credit: By Photograph own work, mannequin created by www.dsdoll.com, with permission granted from dsdoll.com [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons