RealDoll creator Matt McMullen reframes the conversation on sex robots.
As part of our ongoing “Sexbot Perspectives” series, we’ve asked several experts this question: What is the potential or the possible pitfalls of developing sex robots? Our aim: To create dialogue and help shape the best possible future—one that will be deeply influenced by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Over the past 20 years, Matt McMullen has sold more than 5,000 handmade silicone love dolls known as RealDolls. Customers buy them for their beauty, companionship, and most certainly their sexual function. Now costing between $5,000 and $10,000 each, and sometimes even more for custom design requests, McMullen’s company, Abyss Creations, prevails in the high-end sex doll market.
In 2015, McMullen ventured further by unveiling Realbotix: a project to create a robotic head with the illusion of sentience that will attach to a RealDoll body. The company expects to start taking preorders and release a prototype next year.
Plans are underway to pair the technology with virtual reality. A mobile app is also in the works that would let people take the robot’s personality with them.
As a pioneer of sex-capable robots with a deep understanding of the love doll market, McMullen’s perspective is one I wanted to add to the series. His response went beyond sex and addressed the intimacy and therapeutic benefits his creations could offer:
To comment on your question, we feel that the creation of sex capable robots will allow human beings to interact with technology in a whole new way; Gadgetry has found its way into every corner of our lives and intimacy will be no exception.
It’s worth pointing out that we are not designing our robots to be simply “sex robots”; perhaps a more accurate term would be “relationship robots”. We feel that the therapeutic potential of this emerging technology is quite high for individuals who either by choice or circumstance are unable to form intimate bonds with other people. Perhaps these robots will create a bridge for them.
In addition, there are those who choose not to connect with other people and this will allow them an alternate way to experience the emotional and physical connections that occur in intimate relationships.
As for potential pitfalls, it is conceivable that in some cases this technology could realize sexual connection so effectively that human relationships may not be as appealing to certain individuals. That being said however, we strongly feel that the benefits of this endeavor far outweigh the risks.
Image source: Realbotix