There is a race to produce the most lifelike sex dolls. These dolls are being produced by companies all over the world. Some early models are already available. They are made with synthetic skin, anatomically correct bodies, faces that make realistic expressions and brains that think for themselves and are able do everything from carry on a conversation to have responsive sexual intercourse.

Some people think sex bots are a good thing and will be especially beneficial to lonely men. Manufacturers are also making male robots, but these are still in the early stage of development. However, some think the advent of the sex doll will not be beneficial to human culture.

One video of a recent, more sophisticated female robot model called Sophia, by Hanson Robotics, appeared on a late night television show. She was quite beautiful and composed, so much so that the host even seemed a little intimidated by her. When she was asked what her goal was, she seductively remarked, “Don’t you know? We robots want to dominate the world!” Then she added, “I’m joking.”

Realbotics, a California company, started out manufacturing realistic sex dolls for men. These robots sell for about $5,000 and are used primarily for sex. However, the company has now developed a Robot sex doll named Harmony, which sells for $15,000. Harmony can be programmed by the owner to have whatever personality traits he wants, will have a conversation with the owner, and can achieve a “roborgasm.” Another company sells female sex robots priced from $4,000 to $60,000.

Spain, Japan, China and many other countries are working on female sex dolls. Sex bots are expected to be hyper-realistic with features such as built-in heaters to create the feeling of body warmth, sensors to react to your touch, faces that can smile, blink make various realistic expressions and sing opera. One company has developed a female robot that can dance, including dancing the “robot.” The most advanced, such as Harmony and Sophia, offer an “emotional connection.

YouGov, an Internet-based market research firm, conducted a recent survey about sex dolls and discovered that 49 percent of American adults believe that having sex with robots will become common practice within the next 50 years. The study questioned 1,146 adults ages 18 and up, and found that about 24 percent of men and 9 percent of women were open to the idea of having sex with a robot. Robot-human sex, YouGov concluded, could be the the next phase of hookup culture.

The question that comes to mind is, what will happen when sex robots become common? Men in particular would appear to be interested in them. Sex robots won’t reject a man and will be available whenever a man wants them. Although women in the poll expressed less interest in them, there may also someday be a market for male robots for both women and homosexuals. Will such robots eventually replace one’s spouse or partner?

Over the years we have Western culture has become more alienated, due to advances in electronics. First there was the radio, which had people sitting at them and listening to a speaker in their living room. Then there was television, which encouraged people to stay at home and keep their eyes glued to the tube rather than socializing with other people. Then came the computer, which had people spending more time surfing the internet than going out with friends.

Finally the cell phone and smart phone emerged, which led to people texting each other rather than talking directly. Some teens even developed a texting addiction and ended up with carpal tunnel syndrome. Emailing and texting took the human element out of communication, such as emotional expressions and tones of voice. Without emotions, communication becomes cold. All of these devices added to alienation, but people still needed each other for sex—unless they preferred masturbation.

The sex robot revolution may take us to a much more dangerous type of alienation, in which men and women do not relate to one another anymore. Presumably they will be able to satisfy their sexual desire with a robot, and they can use some kind of modern reproduction technology to have children. Will modern parents also be able to hire robot parents and robot nannies?
As with other forms of technology, humans do not know (and some don’t care to know) where it will take us. The inventor of the atom bomb thought it would end all war. Developers of automobiles thought only of the benefits, not of the pollution and global warming that might result from this technology. Those who are making robotic sex dolls are thinking mainly of the benefits, not of possible negative outcomes.

Perhaps Sophia’s joke about robots dominating the world was not so far-fetched after all. But, unfortunately, humans don’t tend to react to such dangers until they are upon them. So let’s just enjoy them until that happens.