This is the proposition that David Levy puts forward in his new book Love + Sex with Robots. In the early 21st century the idea of sex with a robot is regarded by many people as outlandish, outrageous, and even perverted but attitudes are changing making the idea interesting. Futurist, Dr. Ian Yeoman writes about why robots wouldn't be taking over the world and why we wouldn't be having sex with them (or will we). Over the last 100 years our attitude towards homosexuality, oral sex, fornication and masturbation has changed and become more liberal, therefore by 2050 we may be having sex with robots. Today we live in the era of cybersex; second life and according to Durex, 43% of Kiwi women have used a vibrator during their lifetime for sexual pleasure! A survey by http://www.betterHumans.com found that 41% of the human race would like an android as a human slave. The renowned futurologist, Ian Pearson has even suggested robots as cyber prostitutes by 2050. So, why not have a robot as your lover? It would solve a lot of problems i.e.., the exploitation of women, human trafficking and the end of sex tourism as a problem. The idea may seem strange and feasible but I don't think it will ever happen! Why? For the same reasons that robots wouldn't take over the world. Let me explain!
To a certain extent we don't trust advances in science and technology. When London Transport surfaced the idea of driverless trains for it's new overland light railway scheme in the East of London there was public outrage at such a prospect, as a consequence, 'safety minders' operate on the train just in case there is an accident. Today, despite people being healthier, richer and safer, we perceive ourselves to be living in a more 'risky society'. This perception is evidently higher today because people manage much more information and therefore know more about the risks that might affect their lives. It means that the culture of fear has become the natural framework in which businesses and governments will have to operate in the future, why else would we increasingly drink bottled mineral water rather than tap water as we perceive it to be a safer alternative. In general, risks associated with familiar technologies, such as cars, cause less outrage than those linked with new, poorly understood technologies, such as biotechnology and genetic engineering. From a science perspective generically modified food potentially yields overwhelming benefits to future generations but there is no market for such a product as everyone has a perception of Frankenstein food.
In car manufacturing the success of robotics has been the cornerstone of productivity growth in many countries such as Germany and Japan. To the extent that in these countries for every ten workers there are two robots. The big growth in recent years has been for service robots rather than industrial robots. Service robots are used in defence, rescue and security applications, whether it is the Carver bomb disposal robot used by the British Army or the Sony AIBO used as a watch dog in nursing homes. The US Army is considering replacing soldiers with robots – a sort of robo–soldier. The US government has already deployed 5000 robots in Afghanistan and DAFRA (US Military Science Agency) spends over US $ 4 bn on military robot research – but could a robo–soldier tell the difference between friend and foe?
In 2007 according to www.worldrobotics.org 3.4 million robots were sold for domestic use (lawn–mowing, vacuum cleaning) and 2.0 million units for entertainment and leisure (toy robots, hobby systems and training). Japanese engineers have launched HRP–4C this year, a female that flutters her eyelids but can't do much else, whereas Mr Ashi is the world's first robot bartender – he can serve you a beer but can't mix a Harvey Wallbanger or listen to your gripes about life. The success of these robots lies in functionality rather multiplicity. According to Jim Watt, a leading cybernetics researcher robots will never be like Robbie the Robot that appeared in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, but rather each robot will do one task only. You will have a robot to mow the lawn and another to wash the dishes. So we are a long way off from android slaves or sex with robots. However, wasn't it Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM who in 1943 said that the world market for computers would be five... how he was wrong! Maybe Stepford Wives will come true.
Ian Yeoman's new book, Tomorrow's Tourist discusses what the future tourist will look like in 2030, where they will go on holiday and what they will do.
Watch talk about the core drivers of change and Europe's future here.
Ian presents his views on technology futures to the OECD – 21st June here.
Ian profiled in Qatar Airways Oryx Magazine about the 'life of a futurist' here.
The future history of Revenue Management here.
The future of ping pong here.
Ian publishes research paper on scenario planning and policy in the Journal of Tourism Futures here.
The Future of Food Tourism reviewed in Annals of Leisure Research here.
Ian speaks to the EU on the future tourist here.
Fifteen years of Revenue Management here.
Ian appointed series editor by Channelview about the future of tourism Read More.
The Future Tourist: Ian speaking at the European Travel Commission on the 8th September in Vienna More.
Dr Ian Yeoman to keynote at CHME 4-6th May at Ulster University on the future of food More.
Ian to speak on the future of tourism at the New Zealand Airports Association on the 11th September: More.
Ian to speak at Sri Lanka World Tourism Day conference: More.
The Future of Science: Ian guest edits the Royal Society's journal here.
New publication: New Zealand's Sustainable Future and Maori Identity.
The Future of Food Tourism at Wellington on a Plate – 25th August 2015 More.
Previous News items can be found here.