- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

For less than $2,000, men the world over can order and have shipped their very own handmade woman — their very own artificially intelligence-responding, machine-programmed moving, software-generated moaning portable flesh-like robotic sex doll.

Yep. They have to leave their dignity at the door, of course.

But then again, this is not really a field of technology that’s dominated by the self-respect gene, now is it?

Do an internet search on sex robots and it’ll return such lovely links as “A.I. Sex Robot, The Perfect Girlfriend,” and “RealDolls sex robots are ready to talk you into bed,” and “Sex robot who can ORGASM, and remember YOUR favourite position” — that last, noteworthy also for the fact that apparently, we’ve already moved to call these creations of lust “who,” rather than “it.”

Now for the costs.

Well, just as real women come in all shapes and sizes, the fake ones differ as well — in price and amenity.

At AIRobot Companions, as they’re oh-so-disingenuously called, the sex ‘bots range from about $1,500 to $3,600. The lower range women get you “real skin touching” without the “peculiar smell,” and a “fully articulating skeleton” that allows for a variety of poses and positions. For a couple thousand of dollars more, you get a “love doll” with enough AI that “she can tell you a story, make jokes and tell you the weather, as well as “respond to your touch and moan with pleasure.”

And these types of women are really flying off the shelves.

In Japan, land of the AI sex wonder, robotic women are making such waves that men are reportedly subbing out the real for the non-nagging fake. In Europe, brothels have sprung up offering human men the chance to experience sexually all that silicon-and-machine women have to offer, in package deals ranging from 30 minutes to two hours. Lumi Dolls, for instance, markets itself as the “first sex dolls’ agency in Europe,” touting its robots’ self-warming features — and STD-free statuses. In the United States, long-time doll-maker Matt McMullen recently unveiled Harmony, the gold standard of sex robots, prized for its programmable personality, memory and ability to tell jokes, with a Scottish accent, no less — as well as perform well in bed.

Sales are booming.

McMullen’s Abyss Creations company has sold thousands of RealDolls, the brand he affixes the sex robots, and has a backlog of orders that stretches about three months. In a video, McMullen explained his creation as “designed more than anything else for companionship, conversation … so that over time, you get to know each other.”

That’s not at all creepy. Or sad. Or psychologically disturbing.

He also said of Harmony: “She will have the capability of not only remembering but recognizing a user’s preferences, sexually. She can have a simulated computer robot orgasm.”

And that’s just the beginning for Harmony. In the coming months, McMullen said his team of researchers will be working at making the sex robots more moveable, more responsive to various touches.

“I think certain people’s needs can be met completely,” he said of his dolls, “but at the end of the day it’s not mean to be a replacement for a human being.”

Yet — the research goal is to make these robotic women more and more realistic, more and more like their human counterparts. Go figure. Methinks McMullen may be fooling, just a little bit.

He’s got competition, though.

Silicon Wives, another robotic doll manufacturer, is coming on strong in the market. Positioning itself as the “luxury sex dolls” company, Silicon Wives recently introduced Emma, “a fully operation sex robot ready to serve your needs,” equipped with a combination of robotics and artificial intelligence that delivers body heat, conversation and facial expressions.

“She’s a sex doll that can love you back!” — that’s the Big Talking Point takeway from its ad.

Again, the idea isn’t to replace real women, but rather only provide an experience to men that — what, adds to their ability to be intimate with their human partners? Helps them overcome their socially awkwardness? Find their human version of true love — ‘cause nothing says love like a third-wheel Double-D sex bot?

Hmm. Wait a minute, Sherlock. Something seems a bit suspicious.

It’s not so much that robots are making waves in the porn imaginations of the male mind. After all, technology has its dark side and even the most casual of AI watchers could see this coming — that it was only a matter of time before some enterprising science geek got the cagey idea of creating a woman with the single goal of doing his bidding.

The bigger problem is pretending that these robotic sex women are not problematic — that they’re simply something new to buy, like a Craftsman wrench or a Playstation game. Let’s be clear here.

Robot sex is odd; creating robots for men to have sex and companionship is odder still. The fact they’re selling — the fact this market seems to be growing — is only leading our society into a new level of dysfunction. Seriously, men and women can barely understand each other now. Now add robot women to the picture. The scene doesn’t exactly say happy dating, happy home, happy family now does it?

No. Rather, quite the opposite. 

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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