Ready for something kind of creepy?
Sex with robots.
It seems that HBO's Westworld, the series set in a robot-populated theme park in which human lust runs wild, is science fiction morphing into science fact.
This month, the Netherlands-based Foundation for Responsible Robots released a report titled "Our Sexual Future With Robots."
That's a bit more than you expect from your Roomba.
Only four companies — all in the U.S. — produce sex robots, reports FRR. We're Making America Great Again.
"Worldwide, the sex-technology market is worth a reported $30 billion," estimated the publication Nature, which seemed slightly embarrassed to be discussing the topic, even while calling for research on human/machine "relationships," if you can call them that.
These interactions already exist, and they are expanding.
When I was a kid, I read Isaac Asimov's trailblazing novel, I, Robot, set in a 21st century in which robots assist humans in many ways, but not in that way. Asimov missed the Love Boat.
Here we are in the actual 21st century, and brothels using sex dolls have popped up in Asia and Europe. Men are paying to have sex with something akin to a piñata.
Not that I am judging.
Sex tech and the interest in close encounters of the anthropomorphic kind are on the upswing, so much so that a counterbalance has developed: The Campaign Against Sex Robots equates sex robots with everything from "toxic masculinity" to "modern slavery."
Not that I am judging. But is your toaster a slave?
Aside from Westworld, there were earlier pop culture explorations of man (usually) and machine. Joaquin Phoenix fell in love with his computer operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, in the 2013 movie Her. It was hands-off, unlike 2015's Ex Machina, in which a robot creator physically abuses his creation.
The Harmony android prototype from Abyss Creations blinks her eyes, changes expressions, carries on a conversation, and has orgasms. (Inanimate objects can't have orgasms, so that's fake. Some of us know about that.) These super-duper dolls will start at $15,000 and could go to $50,000, depending on accessories. Not sure if it includes undercoating.
Abyss CEO Matt McMullen said he is creating a "girl friend" with whom the owner can bond. A real relationship with a not-real object. I imagine showing up for a date with a can of Valvoline rather than a bouquet of roses.
A tangle of legal, moral, ethical, and social questions surrounds robophilia. George Washington University Law School professor John F. Banzhaf says there's little law here and legislatures might have to regulate sexbots for safety and health reasons.
Some opinion-makers think sexbots would be valuable to severely handicapped people, old folks, or the socially isolated. Others conclude the machines could make people more isolated.
Some observers predict men will actually fall in love with their dolls (a few weirdos already have, per press reports, but I am not judging), while some feminists fume that it's another act of male domination, making women subservient sex objects. The words capitalist patriarchy were hurled by Meghan Murphy in a long piece on feministcurrent.com.
Admittedly, the product line is overwhelmingly female, usually with porn star bodies, but some male dolls are for sale, perhaps for women who have the bot hots for C-3PO.
Futurologist Ian Pearson predicts women will ditch human partners for robots in less than a decade. By 2050, he says, android grooving will eclipse human lovemaking.
But human/machine is not "lovemaking."
I loved my '04 PT Cruiser, but I didn't want to do it with the Chrysler.