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Tomorrow’s Romantic Robots could Capture our Hearts
Dick Pelletier   Apr 29, 2012   Positive Futurist  

Although many today might find the idea of romance with a machine repulsive, experts predict that as the technology advances and robots become more human-like, we will view our silicon creations in a much friendlier light.

By 2025-to-2030, robots are expected to fill rolls as caregivers and servants, as well as avatars that manage our auto-drive cars, automated homes, and complex entertainment systems.

James Irvine and Sandra Schwarzbach, in a recent Futurist Magazine article, predict that the world will predominantly be driven by two fields: robotics and biotech. These areas will surpass information technologies by 2025, and dominate science research over the next 50 years.

Today’s machines can vacuum our homes, stand in as pets, explore planets, and assist in surgeries. Future ‘bots will do much more. Think brain-machine interfaces that allow handicapped patients to control prosthetic limbs. Or imagine swarms of mosquito-size flying ‘bots that can search collapsed buildings for trapped victims; and spy on terrorists holding people hostage, then relaying Intel back to authorities.

Technologies to build robots that perceive their surroundings, move themselves, and perform tasks without human oversight should reach fruition by 2030 or before, experts say. By 2035, our silicon friends could exhibit human-like consciousness with flesh-like skin; and possess traits vital for a loving partner.

Jason Nemeth, in his essay Should Robots Feel, believes love-companion robots will be practical in the future, and may one day satisfy all our intimate desires. Nemeth is not sure whether human/robot love will experience higher success rates than love between two humans, but he says tomorrow’s robots will unlock the possibilities, and a few bold humans willing to experiment will take it from there.

Carnegie Mellon’s Hans Moravec believes that by late 2020s, we will create robots in humanoid form, powered by fuel cells and cooled by a squeeze pump that beats like a heart with alcohol cooling its circuits. Robots would ‘drink wine’ for fuel, breathe air like us, and appear amazingly human-like.

Design tricks like these, along with soft ‘nanoskin’ will make tomorrow’s ‘bots seem uncannily human, encouraging us to perceive them as friends. Author Ray Kurzweil says tomorrow’s ‘droids could quickly learn to flesh out our positive feelings, providing an addictive allure almost impossible for us to resist.

David Levy, author of Love and Sex with Robots, predicts that as robots become more sophisticated, growing numbers of adventurous humans will enter into intimate relationships with these intelligent ‘bots.

A robot partner would be the perfect mate, never showing boredom or being inattentive, Levy says. You will always be the focus and centerpiece of their existence and you never need worry about their being unfaithful or going astray, because loyalty and being faithful are embedded in their programming.

What about the seamy side of, say, robo escorts. Would this be legal where human prostitution is not? Would we call it infidelity if a spouse indulges in robot passion? In addition, how will religious supporters react to confirmation that the deepest human thoughts and achievements can be duplicated in machines?

Levy doesn’t deny that romantic robots won’t pose problems. In fact, at first, robo-loving may only appeal to loners and misfits, he says; but that really shouldn’t matter. There are millions of lonely people without regular sex lives or relationships. A world where everyone has someone to love and to be loved would raise happiness levels everywhere. It could even be instrumental in achieving global peace.

However, there are robots rights issues to consider. Tomorrows ‘bots may prompt lawmakers to make it illegal to ‘turn off’ a robot without their permission. In addition, should robots and humans marry? If future robots can evoke true love, robo-human marriages might one day become legal and socially acceptable.

As wild as human-machine relationships might seem today, there are reasons to think that love and sex with robots will happen. Robots are already better in math, logic, chess, and games like Jeopardy. With an intelligent mind, and a beautiful sexy human-like body, these ‘bots could easily capture our hearts.

This romantic robot journey winds around unknown turns; but whether you love it or hate it; strong commercial support insures that this futuristic world will be ours to experience. Comments welcome.

Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.


There is an assumption here that robots will not transcend their programming as we are ours. Either they will be the perfected slaves that we have aspired to dominate. In which case they will neither request nor be granted any rights. Or they will have all the same desires as us. In which case they will not be contented to be sexual slaves and servants in which case we face the global equivalent of the American civil war as U.S. Grant said “Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.”



This article prompted a couple of fun thoughts.  In home robots may also replace surgeons and doctors.  Medical information and know how may be easily downloadable.

Also, swarms of mosquito robots may be able to inject sedatives into criminals and hostage-takers.  Something such as this could eliminate the need for lethal police force.

As far as what “the machines” will want.  There is no way to know.  It’s like guessing what your children will be when they grow up.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

a friend posted a quick-meme this morning on her FB page that fits this discussion perfectly, it read:
“I feel like a widow, ever since my batteries died” - in reference to her relationship with a sex toy. I could not resist linking this article to that post.

One would think that humanity would not have to spy on each other anymore.  There is also the notion of “technological unemployment”, which is an important paradigm to consider.  Will consumerism survive the wave of wisdom that is slowly rising over the horizon.

IMHO, if we continue to use technology for malevolence, rather than benevolence, then we are doomed.  Thank you for this article and the possibilities that await humanity when we actually marry spirituality with technology.

Interesting you use the phrase ‘uncannily human.’ How would the uncanny valley affect the sexbot industry? If a robot seems almost Human without being able to completely pull off the illusion, then we subconsciously perceive it as a Human with something severely wrong with them, and instinctively treat it like a leper. Also, when you mistake a robot for Human, then find out it’s not, it’s shocking. You feel tricked. “Don’t trust anything that looks Human but isn’t,” said the beaver.

In order for Humans to marry robots, they’d have to be legally people, which would be a far great hurdle than Human/robot marriage.

I brought this up with Hank before, but I think that sexbots would eventually lead to a more conservative society. Those who would use sexbots would most likely be liberals, and since you can’t knock up a robot they end up never reproducing. Conservatives on the other hand would reject sexbots and form monogamous long-term heterosexual pair bonds, which are great for making and raising kids. Conservatives pass on their genetics and memetics, and liberals don’t. Any kind of virtual sex or love will become an evolutionary pressure that favors conservatives.

Finally, they need to drink alcohol as a coolant? The cigar just makes them look cool though, right?

What I question is whether we will really spend the money on full body robots for love and lust. The most important erogenous zone is the mind. If we have human/computer interfaces that give the brain the necessary stimulus we might not even need the extra physical parts to provide release. I expect that human/computer program love will be a reality long before human/human like robot love.

I envision romantic robots will gain popularity during the 2020s, but as humanity becomes more intelligent, making love with machines will begin to lose its appeal.

During late 2030s and 2040s, non-biological body parts will become affordable and socially acceptable. These will include systems to enhance brains – possibly a new nanomaterial descending from today’s carbon nanotubes that would strengthen; or even replace our biological neurons.

Our new brains would allow us to connect with machines to share their vast data, and process information billions of times faster than today. With this increased intelligence, we may find our ancient sexual desires that are keyed to reproduction, illogical and uninteresting.

Most of the pleasures that we experience today could be boring to future humans. As we unravel more of the mysteries of consciousness, we may uncover breathtaking new feelings beyond today’s wildest imaginings.

Comments welcome.

When one makes a fundamental assumption—that one can only love a *person*—the question becomes simple; is the robot/android/artilect a person? Everything after that is window dressing.

Making sex robots or virtual sex experiences affordable and available worldwide can not only extremely increase happiness levels worldwide, it can also be very important to reduce or end the current horrible and heartbreaking abuses in human trafficking for sex slavery and prostitution. By having cheaper and better alternatives to abusing humans for sex, these crimes will naturally stop, similarly to how cultured meat may be able to end the practice of animal torture and abuse for meat production.

Thus, any governments interested in human rights and ethics should greatly prioritize the development of this technology, even if it takes many billions of dollars. It would be well worth this amount. Private investors could also spend billions of dollars, as such and industry, once developed, could be extremely lucrative. Take into account that most of the internet traffic is related to porn sites, and do the math.

A concern may be diminishing wedding and reproduction rates, though. Without the necessity of sex as part of a relationship, the number of people who opt out of these may increase. However, love should still be very important, so I think that this problem is not very significant. Besides, technologies for life-extension should counter-balance the problem of low birth-rates.

“By having cheaper and better alternatives to abusing humans for sex, these crimes will naturally stop”

This is wishful thinking, Jonatas; crimes will be reduced as you wrote, but not ended. Intellectuals have little influence on crime, because criminals don’t care what intellectuals think.. and worse than that is that crooks may benefit more than straights from the tech of tomorrow: if you go to Mexico you can see it is out in the open, bad guys (including the many crooks in government) benefit more than most civilians.
Negative side of the ‘60s is it fostered an unrealistic mindset, because unless you want to place something in the water—including bottled water—to thoroughly change ethics, we will be stuck with crime.
The future wont be the Age of Aquarius- that is over and done with.

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