Sex with robots is “just around the corner”,
an expert told a global conference in London
this week featuring interactive sex toys and
discussions on the ethics of relationships
“Sexbots” are a staple of science fiction —
the idea of robots as sex partners is
explored, for instance, in recent films and
television series like “Ex-Machina” and
But some specialists believe the first
animated lovers made of metal, rubber and
plastic, programmed to provide sexual bliss,
will take a step into reality just months from
“Sex with robots is just around the corner,
with the first sexbots coming… sometime
next year,” artificial intelligence expert David
Levy told the International Congress on Love
and Sex with Robots at Goldsmiths,
University of London.
US California-based company Abyss Creations
next year will start marketing sex robots that
are billed as life-like, with the ability to talk
and move like humans.
Ultimately, Levy said, people should
entertain the thought of marriage with
robots as early as 2050.
The conference in London showcased some of
the latest developments in robotic sex toys,
such as gadgets which allow couples to kiss,
no matter how far apart they are.
The “Kissenger”, which attaches to your
mobile phone, contains sensors to detect the
pressure of a kiss and transmit it to your
partner’s device in real time. It has been
under development for several years.
Now students at Tokyo’s Keio University are
developing the “Teletongue”, aimed at
providing “remote oral interaction” and
designed to be “kinky”, according to co-
creator Dolhathai Kaewsermwong.
It allows couples to send licking sounds and
sensations through cyberspace using a
“lollipop”, creating an “immersive
experience”, she explained.
– ‘Moral panic’ –
Lynne Hall, of the University of Sunderland’s
school of computer science, in northeast
England, said that robots could create “a
fantastic sexual experience”.
“There are lots of benefits to sex with
robots… it’s safe, you never catch any
disease, you can control it,” she told the
She rejected the idea that robots would
replace or threaten sex with humans,
“We are somehow fed by moral panic… ‘It’s
disgusting… nobody will ever have sex with a
human again’,” Hall told the conference.
“But people are regularly watching porn…
and they are still having sex with humans,”
Levy, the author of “Love and Sex with
Robots”, from which the annual conference
takes its title, said marriage to robots would
be the next logical step.
“As sex with robots becomes more and more
commonplace… we shall come face to face
with the very real possibility of marriage to
robots,” the former international chess
And why not?
Robots of the future will be “patient, kind,
protective, loving”, never “jealous, boastful,
arrogant, rude,” Levy said — “unless of
course, you want them to be”.
“All of the following qualities and many more
are likely to be achievable in software within
a few decades,” he added.
Levy is convinced that rapid changes in
attitudes to sex and marriage in recent years
point to a world where “more and more
people come to accept sex and love with
– ‘Robot personhood’ –
In his vision, robot parents could become a
social norm, with laws to acknowledge “robot
personhood” and make marriage and
parenting by humanoids more than just a
“The time is fast approaching when the
theoretical debate must evolve into laws, and
the consequences of those laws will be
staggering,” he said.
For now, however, sexual relations with
humanoids are a step too far for many.
Emma Yann Zhang, a PhD student at
London’s City University who worked on the
Kissenger prototype, believes there is still a
long way to go before people will accept the
In a pilot study conducted by the
Imagineering Institute in Malaysia, partnered
with City University, participants were asked
about their perceptions of sex robots,
including the potential for intimacy and
Although many were open to the possibility
that humans could be attracted to robots,
“when asked ‘would you have a robot as a
lover?’, most of them said ‘no’,” said Zhang.
Hall agrees that the “paradigmatic change”
suggested by Levy is “not going to happen
for a very long time”.
In the meantime, AI enthusiasts will be
watching closely to see how quickly the new
generation of sexbots fly off the shelves next