The image is one of a series about the life of a personal robot. The time is the near future where personal robots are sold to do erveryday business or switch into a romantic mode to entertain women.
Credit: Franz Steiner
Will this be the future of luxury bachelor and bachelorette parties? Maybe it's something you could get your grandkids. By 2050, bordellos will offer for-hire sex robots for disease- and guilt-free pleasure, according to a new scientific paper.
The research, published in the May issue of the journal Futures, sits incongruously among more staid titles about new spatial planning methods and urban sprawl. The paper is meant to be a "futuristic scenario" that "pushes plausibility to the limit," write its authors, Michelle Mars and tourism professor Ian Yeoman, both of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
Nevertheless, they said, "It is feasible. Society has had relationships with machines and we continue to have increasingly intimate relationships with more and more sophisticated technologies." And for the sex tourism industry, it's something to look forward to, they said. Commercial sex robots would be free of disease and would reduce the trafficking of real people for sex work, they write.
To explore their ideas, Yeoman and Mars envisioned Amsterdam's sex tourism industry in 2050. They imagined "Yub-Yum," a sex club for business travelers, which would sell "all-inclusive service" — including massages, lap dances and intercourse — for 10,000 Euros, or about $13,000.
Rises in human trafficking and in drug-resistant strains of HIV, which Yeoman and Mars predict will occur in the 2040s, motivated Amsterdam officials to license robotic bordellos. In spite of serious problems with human brothels, city tourism council members didn't want to shut down brothels altogether because they worried such a crackdown might drive away tourists. Robots were the answer.
The bots would be made with bacteria-resistant fiber and cleaned after each use so they wouldn't transmit diseases between customers. Customers "feel guilt-free" because they don't have sex with people, so they don't have to lie to spouses about what they're doing, according to the researchers.
Other drivers the researchers said that will make the sexy bot future possible are the growth of the sex industry and people's desire for humanly unattainable perfection — the researchers pointed to the popularity of plastic surgery as evidence.
Here in 2012, companies in Japan and South Korea are already hiring out sex dolls, the researchers said. "The early successes of the sex doll businesses are a clear indicator of things to come," they write.
The authors acknowledged social questions they didn't answer, such as whether couples would consider visiting a sex robot infidelity and whether people really would want to have sex with a robot. The only drawback they covered in any detail is that robotic prostitutes might put human ones out of business. Robots can perform superhuman feats and don't need rest. Mars and Yeoman's Yub-Yum scenario included protests by Amsterdam's human sex workers.
There was an additional question we thought of at InnovationNewsDaily, however. While the authors optimistically write about "sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features," we imagined people might be able to bring to life stereotyped, socially harmful fetishes. They might want to order bots that look like children or personify racial stereotypes, such as savage indigenous people or submissive Asian women. While it might be relatively easy to create laws against creating robots that look underage, it would be more difficult to rule against stereotypes.
So while their extreme trend-spotting exercise is fun, the researchers' conclusion might be a little glib. "If such a proposition came true," they write, "Amsterdam would probably be the safest and best sex tourism destination in world and all the social problems associated with sex tourism would disappear overnight."