Sex and Marriage with Robots? It could happen.
Now, I don’t write science fiction. I don’t read it, either. So I sure in blazes don’t think science fiction, and this whole concept boggles my mind.
An artificial intelligence researcher in the Netherlands recently completed his PhD work and only a few days ago successfully defended his thesis on human-robot relationships. He claims the idea is not new–in fact, it goes back to Greek mythology when Pygmalion fell in love with a statue who eventually came to life. The researcher even goes so far as to envision the liberal state of Massachusetts could be the first to legalize human-robot marriages by the year 2050.
More important, they’re programmable.
We can give them intelligence, make them attractive (see the picture on the right–a robot woman. Does she look real or what?!) and infuse them with personalities. We can make them talk. We can make them love us. Already, companies have been marketing life-like sex dolls. Last year, the founder of a robotics research network predicted within five years, people will be having sex with robots by giving them vibrations and audio responses. (Um, the robots, not the people.)
Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms.
There are some within the human race who have difficulty forming normal relationships with the opposite sex. Or even the same sex. The robot could fill a need for that relationship. And what about the sexually perverted? The pedophile–give them a child robot? Give someone their very own prostitute to reduce that vice, too? What about couples already married the traditional way–and one partner develops an attachment to a robot? Issues of jealousy? Infidelity?
My favorite quote in the article from the artificial intelligence researcher, though, pertains to a marriage/relationship that welcomes the robot among them. He speculates “Instead of a woman saying, ‘Darling, not tonight, I have a headache,’ she could say, ‘Darling, I have a headache, why not use your robot?”
Why not, indeed.
Those of us who write westerns are enamored from the code of honor cowboys live by, and their respect for women ranks near the top of the list. A hundred years ago, they wouldn’t have been able to grasp the concept of a robot as a substitute for a living, breathing human being.
But would a love-starved cowboy, lonely from weeks on the trail, sleeping night after night out on the range, welcome such a device strapped to his horse to satisfy his need for female company?
Hmm. What do you think?