The inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil argues that the pleasures generated during virtual reality sex will, with the advance of technology exceed those produced while engaged in standard sexual intercourse. As a consequence the majority of people will, eventually choose virtual sex over its traditional counterpart, biological intercourse. Kurzweil propounds this thesis in works such as “The Age of Spiritual Machines” and anyone who searches the forums, on kurzweilai.net will find threads in which it is postulated that virtual sex should be encouraged as a means of reducing sexually transmitted diseases. Indeed some posters suggest that prostitutes should be encouraged to ply their trade, in the virtual environment in order to prevent the spread of STDs and to make the sex industry safer.
In 2010 a flurry of publicity was generated when Roxxxy, a sex robot was launched by the US-based tru companion.com at an approximate cost of $7000. The sexbot offers 5 different personalities, can be upgraded wirelessly and has the ability to engage in conversation albeit in a very limited manner.
Adherents of the Singularity have contended that Roxxxy is a step on the road to ever more realistic sexbots which will come to compete with flesh and blood females for the attention of men. Some proponents of the Singularity believe that robot prostitutes will, given time compete with human sex workers.
Could this happen? It is always dangerous to say that a particular thing will never (in any circumstances) happen. I can imagine a growing market for ever more life-like sex dolls and for those unable to find a human partner (or people who merely wish to experiment sexually) Roxxxy and her successors will, no doubt find a ready market. However there are a number of major drawbacks to the idea that the female of the species is about to be consigned to the dustbin of history:
1. Men wish for more than sexual release. Although Roxxxy is manufactured and sold by “True Companion” Roxxxy is a robot with manufactured personalities (not the real, living vibrant personality of a biological woman. Men would soon become bored (or go stark staring bonkers) if they base the whole of their sex lives around sexbots.
2. Most men want more than sex, they want to hold a meaningful conversation. This is, in the middle to distant future not something which sexbots are going to be able to do. Can one imagine discussing Shakespeare with Roxxxy!
3. Men want (on the whole) to father children (as do women), sexbots (obviously) can not offer this). OK one can imagine a society in which children are born (as in Brave New World) in hatcheries, however this is not what the overwhelming majority of either men or women wish for.
In short robot girlfriends are not just around the corner. What is around the corner is ever more sophisticated sex toys which will (in the hands of clever marketers) increase their sales and take their place among vibrators etc.