Robot dolls, whether they’re intended as synthetic companions or sexual entertainment, are seen in various iterations in SF (the most recent notable examples are the pleasure model replicants seen in the 2017 film, Bladerunner 2049).
This old trope is quickly becoming a facet of our near future reality. It’s a sometimes taboo, awkward, and problematic topic. It asks controversial questions about the commodification of sex and how it intersects with the business of emerging technology. It’s made all the more complex as we consider the possibility of advancing AI, and the fear of reinventing exploitation.
The robot sex brothels in Europe might seem like a novelty now, but there is no indication that this growing industry will lose steam. Rather, the robots are expected to lower in cost and increase in circulation as the technology improves. As they become mainstreamed, developers aim to make models as lifelike as possible – talking with their clients, laughing at their jokes, even performing daily chores like a domestic.
We have an endless number of possibilities and concerns to experiment with as authors. Perhaps a hacker is compromising the androids’ programming – either to “liberate” them or to have them serve ulterior, nefarious purposes. Perhaps prostitution models are employed to blackmail or even assassinate high profile, wealthy targets during nights of debauchery. What if an android developed a mind of their own and didn’t’ want to serve the role they were designed to?
The emergence of this new industry could have implications about how future humans will treat sex, and where the human element in relationships figure in. Or don’t.