Are Sex Robots the Future?

in #society2 years ago

So today I came across a fun article from Justin Lehmiller at the Kinsey Institute:

I've written about this a bit before from a different angle:

So 4,000 people were surveyed about their sexual fantasies and 14.3% admitted to fantasizing of having sex with a robot. There are some differences based on gender, but the overall number is that 14.3%.

From this Lehmiller concludes:

In short, my data suggest that about 1 in 7 people say they’ve fantasized about sex with a robot before; however, interest in robot sex overall seems to be relatively low, given that less than 1.5% of men and women fantasize about this often. It’s far too early to say what role robots will ultimately play in our sex lives in the future, but these numbers suggest that the sex robot revolution we’ve been hearing so much about may be a bit overhyped.

I don't think these data support that last line though.

Fantasizing about having sex with a robot and paying to having sex with a robot are two very different things. Also, how does 14.3% compare to the use of human sex workers in general?
Last question first: how many people pay for sex?

I found a few sources:

This study looked at 442 hispanic men in North Carolina and found that 40-46% of men without partners hired a sex worker of some type during the previous year, while only 4-5% of married men living with their spouses did.

According to it's estimated that 10% of men in the world have hired a prostitute.

These two numbers actually make some sense in tandem because most people get married (at least once, anyways) as we can see here:

So if the North Carolina statistic holds true to the broader population, then we'd expect to see 40% of about 20-30% plus 4% of 70-80%.

40% x 20% + 4% x 80% = 11.2%

40% x 30% + 4% x 70% = 14.8%

So that's somewhere in the same ballpark as the 10% estimate. Maybe it's 15%, but it's in that order of magnitude.

OK, so we have a rough estimate of how many people seek out human sex workers.

It's an open question how many of these people would hire sex robots for their services instead.

It's also an open question how many people who currently don't pay for human prostitutes would pay for robot sex. A lot of people might see sexbots as more like sex toys than prostitutes. And, according to, that's a 15 billion USD per year business. I could easily envision sexbots being marketed as a fun, frisky thing to do as a couple.

There is also sure to be a great deal of technological advancement over the coming years as computing power, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality systems continue to develop and cross the uncanny valley. Renting a RealDoll isn't all the popular right now, but what if it moves, feels, and talks like a person? Maybe it's an AI, maybe it's a remote link to someone working in a modern version of a phone sex call room.

Overall, I think robot prostitutes would be a good thing. The bulk of prostitute buyers will probably remain the same. A few seriously disturbed people may be able to find some satisfaction from them and be less likely to do mass harm to others. But the biggest winners in society would be the children who wouldn't have to be abducted or forced into prostitution in one way or another. The average age someone starts in prostitution is 14!