Alongside ruder ones, there is a polite word for those who prefer their mates to be made of plastic and wires: technosexuals. (Calvin Klein already has trademarked “technosexual” for some unspecified future product.)
It’s not a new idea. Arguably, the Pygmalion and Galatea myth contains the seeds of it. The plot of Fritz Lang’s 1927 scifi movie classic Metropolis hinges on a sexy robot. My Living Doll was an early ‘60s sitcom. The cult 1987 film Cherry 2000 takes it further. Making Mr. Right, also from 1987, gender-reverses the same idea. Full size dolls costing thousands of dollars (see http://www.realdoll.com/) are a present-day marketing success. Efforts to make true robots both sexually attractive and lifelike continue. Kokoro manufactures and markets some of the most successful (and disturbing) animatronic “actroids.” (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3iYEc6Dht4)
According to Scientific American, artificial-intelligence researcher David Levy asked a crowd at the Museum of Sex in New York City “Why not marry a robot?” One of the visitors countered by asking if anyone who wanted to marry a robot was deluded. Levy’s response was, “If the alternative is that you are lonely and sad and miserable, is it not better to find a robot that claims to love you and acts like it loves you?”
I suppose I’ve heard less sound arguments for marriage. In both of the 1987 movies mentioned above, the protagonists have to decide between a biological partner and a mechanical one. The two films end opposite ways. In case you haven’t seen them, I’ll let you guess which is which.
There is little doubt that human/robot relationships (if that is the right word) will be part of the future. Whether it ever will cease to be awkward for a technosexual to announce his or her predilections to mom and dad is another question.