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RoboLover: Fucking Technology - By - April 8, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

RoboLover: Fucking Technology

I've always just assumed robots are coming for all of our jobs, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. We've all accepted that, right? Last year, Alan Tovey of The Telegraph reported that up to 50 percent of jobs could be “eliminated by computing and robotics technology” in the next 20 years.

So sure, San Francisco's sex-work culture is rich and vibrant now, but it's only a matter of time before they begin construction of Starfleet Academy in Marin and some Ho-bot comes to take my job, right?

But while technology is rapidly changing the way we live our lives in many ways, we are still light-years away from the future promised to us by 20th-century science fiction. We can talk to our loved ones in real-time video and sport smart watches that monitor our life functions, as was promised by The Jetsons, but the dream of flying cars and service robots, specifically ones designed for sex, still seems impossibly far off.

It's not for lack of trying. Nerds and pervs have historically kept close quarters, which has resulted in several attempts at artificially intelligent sex toys over the years.

Recently, Silicon Valley's self-proclaimed “bio-hacker,” Sunny Allen, who calls herself “The Eve of Robotic Sex,” raised well over $500,000 to create Hum. It may look like any other slim-line silicone vibrator one could buy at a couples-friendly sex shop, but Allen and her team of “multiple physicists” insist it is a “complete reimagining of what a sex toy can be.”

It's nothing close to a sex bot, but it purports to respond to body temperature and movements in a way that is intuitive and somehow revolutionary. However, the description is long on Bay Area-style startup hype and short on specifics. The website still has a “coming soon” banner and saw its last update in October, so the jury is still out.

In 2010, Roxxxy, created by former Bell Labs engineer Douglas Hines, was introduced at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. “The world's first sex robot,” who is, of course, “always turned on and ready to talk or play,” looks like one of those silicone-skinned, fully fuckable Real Dolls that give me nightmares, but she interacts with humans like a Furby in heat, or a super-horny Siri. If you touch her hands, she sighs and says, “I love it when you hold my hand,” and she can be programmed with customizable personalities, from “Frigid Farrah” to “Wild Wendy.” She can't move her appendages, but her three orifices are fully interactive and she can even simulate orgasm. But in all honesty, she looks like a Buffalo Bill skin suit.

Teledildonics (which may, in fact, be the silliest word ever) are sex technologies that allow toys to be controlled through a computer. These technologies get to the heart of what humans really use technology for: connecting with other humans.

The Bay Area-based Vibease is a wearable vibrator that syncs with an interactive app that has selections of dirty stories and choose-your-own-adventure erotic games that sync with the vibrations of the toy. A partner can also control the vibrator from anywhere in the world.

The pocket-pussy experts over at Fleshlight have created Kiiroo, a set of companion sex toys that talk to each other. The Pearl vibrator can be inserted into an orifice and transmit tactile data to the Onyx Fleshlight masturbator, which can transmit tactile data back to the Pearl, basically allowing consumers to have sex over the internet — a truly exciting prospect for long-distance couples and webcam models alike.

The sex bots aren't coming for my job. They're coming to make my job more exciting.

But even if fully functioning sex bots are the future, I have a feeling that I'll be retired from the industry by the time Roxxxy can accompany someone to the theater, stimulate a prostate, and get nerdy about the alternate Star Trek timeline where Data has blue eyes instead of yellow ones.

The most advanced artificial intelligence we've created can't do much more than beat you at Jeopardy!, so it seems robotics engineers have a long way to go before they are able to sell a robot that can beat you at Jeopardy!, and give you a hand job at the same time. So for now, I think my job is safe.