For its eighth yearly Singles at America survey, Match polled over 5,000 single individuals in the United States about dating and sex. Using a representative sample of adults of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations, the survery asked questions which range from openness to go out with somebody of a different political party to openness to have sex with a robot. For many American singles, questions about robot gender are strictly hypothetical, but they do raise all kinds of complicated difficulties.
The Singles from America survey discovered that only one in four single individuals could have sex with a robot. Surprised that number isn’t greater? You are not alone. Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and Match’s chief scientific advisor, says, “I had been a bit astounded that more wouldn’t try it once.” She points out that humans anthropomorphize things such as dolls and teddy bears starting at a young age, and robots are not any different. “The mind is wired to respond to faces, and in reality, if it’s a pretty face in the robot, which will trigger a small mill in the bottom of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which pumps dopamine out–it gives you feelings of pleasure.”
Kate Darling is a researcher at the MIT Media Lab and a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center who studies human-robot interaction. She tells Playboy, “We tend to cast human feelings onto robots and treat them living, even when we know rationally that they’re just machines.” However, as for whether or not sex robots can affect our human relationships, Darling says, “The only thing we know is that this really is uncharted land, because the physicality of robots is much more immersive than what we’ve studied previously.”
According to the Match survey, while 31 percent of men were prepared to have sex with a robot than half as many women would do it. Fisher has written six novels about sex and love, for example one about sex differences in the mind, which may explain that discrepancy. “Women are quite likely to associate gender with romance , and sexual intercourse with love,” she says. “The male mind is normally more compartmentalized, so perhaps they think ‘Oh, sure, I will have sex with a robot. It’s not likely to interfere with my wife/girlfriend/dating life, because it’s just sex.’ Women could see it as something that is contextually a bigger deal, which somehow it’s likely to have a bigger impact on their customs, and on their own feelings of self-esteem.”
Matters get more complex when individuals are asked how they’d feel if their partner had sex with a robot. Almost half of the survey participants said they would consider it cheating. Considering how our brains work, Fisher states this is reasonable. “The most important thing is, whenever you have sex with a normal person, and likely with a robot, you’re driving up the dopamine system in the brain, and that’s what gives you strength and confidence and focus and motivation, which sense of intense romantic love. And then, with orgasm, there is a real flooding of oxytocin and vasopressin linked with feelings of attachment. If you are home in the afternoon and your husband is about the bed with sex with a robot, he’s driving up the dopamine and also all those feel good chemicals and twisting out feelings of deep attachment to a doll, and not to you personally” She adds, “It’s like a refusal of feelings and romance of attachment, because he’s putting his energy someplace else and pushing up these mind systems by himself and not like you.”
Whether or not you think about having sex with a robot “cheating” isn’t actually a matter about robot gender. Darling believes it says about the terms of your relationship and the way you communicate with each other. “Some folks would enthusiastically endorse an agreement that included sexual intercourse with a robot. Others wouldn’t be familiar with it. Provided that everybody involved is on board, it’s not cheating.”
If you can not envision a circumstance where you’d need your partner getting it on with a robot rather than you, Fisher suggests, “Let us say they create a doll that appears exactly as you, and you also travel always in Europe or Far East.” Meanwhile, your partner is straight home, having sex with the robot. “The partner who’s traveling might feel great that they are not outside sleeping with real folks,” She clarifies.
For the lonely, sex robots are not just of course. They can add a fresh dimension to your couple’s relationship and promote both partners to open up to their dreams. Fisher says, “I suggest, I’ve never become a guy to tell me exactly what his dreams are, but perhaps with a doll, so an individual could excite them to know what their real dreams are, and provide it another way.” Another example where the robot provides a new outlook is offered by her. “Let us talk about someone with a very difficult time coming, because they’re so busy trying to please someone. So then they receive a doll, and they don’t have to worry about somebody else’s feelings, and they find that they can develop a good deal faster. And so then, perhaps they can work in their fantasy life what happened with all the doll and come quicker with a partner.”
Sex robots are not your sex toy. Darling says they are trending toward feeling and looking increasingly “living” and human. “That allows for an immersive fantasy than a lot of the toys we’ve seen so far.” In case you have access to your sex, and you and your partner both need to bring it to bed, then why not do it? According to Fisher, “If you’ve talked about the reason you feel like doing this, and you receive a whole lot of laughs while you’re doing this, and folks come immediately, and you’re hugging and kissing, and the doll falls down on the ground, you might have experienced a better experience which can enliven the relationship and open up things.”
As long as sex robots cost tens of thousands of dollars, robot threesomes are unlikely to become commonplace–but even a theoretical openness to have sex with a robot could be great news to the sexual life. “We know from this research that those folks who said they would have sex with a robot also had a fantastic deal more sex during the course of this year,” says Fisher. She considers individuals that want to know more about robot sex likely have fewer inhibitions in general. “It seems kooky to them, and they like sex, they are more comfortable with gender, they are more adventuresome with sexual activity, and they are certainly likely to be much more likely to try something new.”