Sex With Talking Robots Could Be An Actual Thing In The Near Future

A.I. technology could change the world, so of course it's being used for this instead.

Meet the "RealDoll," a life-sized companion that's anatomically accurate and can be customized to push all of your buttons. For as little as $5,000, you can get your hands on a RealDoll whose hair, skin and body type are exactly to your liking.

That's not news. RealDolls have been around since 1996, and have been keeping thousands of customers satisfied since then.

For the first time, however, these literal doll faces have something to say for themselves, the New York Times reports.

Creator Matt McMullen is working with a team of engineers to turn his dolls into lifelike androids that (who?) will contain artificial intelligence, allowing them to converse with their mates. The new, even more real dolls are being referred to as RealBotix, and can blink, move their mouths realistically, and, perhaps most importantly to their partners, communicate when and how they are enjoying sex. (Oof. You know you're not good at this if you can't please a robot.)

In a move that will sound vaguely familiar to those of us who used mutilate their Barbies, the heads can be attached to bodies of preexisting RealDolls, and will likely be priced at around $10,000 a pop.

Eventually, however, McMullen and his team will be offering RealBotix girls with robotic bodies. Those models will likely run from $30,000 to $60,000. There is no word yet on whether it will be safe to take them into the hot tub.

David McNew/ Getty Images

As these toys advance from giant dolls to robots, one challenge that McMullen (and anyone looking to engineer a human-like girlfriend) faces is making them realistic without giving everyone involved the creeps. Engineers are still figuring out how to make robots resemble humans without turning us off because of the lack of sentience that we detect in them.

This concept, coined the "Uncanny Valley" by Japanese writer Masahiro Mori some 40 years ago, has become more and more relevant as science catches up to the ideas that were once only the stuff of science-fiction dreams. The RealRobotix girls appear to have faces that are reminiscent of anime characters and voices that speak about as naturally as Siri on an off day.

One question that remains: If A.I. reaches the point of complexity where we can call it a new form of consciousness (as sci-fi has predicted for decades), will consent become an issue? How much intelligence can we give such an "invention" before it gets a say in the matter?


Another question: Why is the world's arsenal of sex dolls so heavily dominated by the members of the fairer android sex? A quick trip into any sex shop is proof that women are no strangers to taking battery-operated lovers, but perhaps it's our slightly elevated tendency toward empathy that makes it tougher for us to buy into the idea that a robot really digs us.

Still, if engineers could find a way to build us a RealDoll version of the cast of Magic Mike XXL, something tells us more than a few ladies would be interested in becoming paying customers. It's been almost 15 years since "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" -- haven't we waited for Gigolo Joe long enough?


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