Sex of the Future: Robot Prostitutes


Yup, you read that right. Robotic sex workers, by 2050. And while such speculation is intriguing philosophically*, I doubt it would work. I’m not saying we’ll never possess the technology. But my prediction, pure and simple, is that doing it with a robot will never replace the real deal. Sure, some might enjoy the novelty or be able to get off like they would with a sex toy. But for the adult prostitution market, where’s the spontaneity with a pre-programmed robot?

Human sexual creativity is what makes machines exciting, even when we’re talking about the humble vibrator. This brings me back to the other week while my partner and I were in Provincetown. On the main drag, we discovered a sex store called Wild Hearts, which shares space with its sister store, Toys of Eros. There, we bought a few accessories from the store’s owner and founder, Maxine Kroll, who is one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring sex-toy retailers I’ve ever met. Kroll sold us the priciest version of a luxurious U-shaped vibrator called the We-vibe. “It costs more to get the remote-controlled version, but when you think of the possibilities, it’s worth every cent,” she said.

She couldn’t have been more right.

But even when playing with a toy like this, human spontaneity is what brings the pleasure. Isn’t the “realness” of a partner’s response what makes sex so enjoyable? Yes. Will a robot ever be able to fake such responses? Maybe, but it still would be fake.

On the other hand, there could be real benefits to sex robots. Maxine Kroll of Wild Hearts makes the point that for those women who take hours to reach orgasm, a robot might take the pressure off and be helpful in their development. But I still have questions: What if the engineers are so clever that they find ways to make robots sentient? Could we put them into potentially hurtful situations? And what about those sex workers who want to be sex workers (see this post by Kitty Stryker if you need persuading) and desperately need their jobs?

Hmm. Androids and sex. Sex and androids. An intriguing thought-experiment if ever there was one.

*The linked article gives much food for thought and debate, especially in terms of moral consequences. (Photo via iStockPhoto.)