by Dahlia Rizk
The year’s technology: hands-on and hassle free.
This past week the streets of America have been abuzz with technological news regarding items that until recently, we never knew we needed, but now, will never be able to live without. One such item has been the Apple iPad—the iPhone with the really big screen and a personal message that says, “Hey, you, average consumer. Give us more of your money for redundant-but -flashy gizmos. Love, Apple”. But that is not the technological wonder I am recommending you today. No, this device of which I speak is far more humane and comforting than the feel of cold steel and plexiglass in your palm.
Meet Roxxxy, the lady robot powered for your own hands-on experience. Marketers have labeled her the most advanced talking sex robot yet. According to her home at TrueCompanion.com, she comes complete with soft silicone “skin”, voice recognition and speech-synthesis software, and even 5 distinct personalities in varying friskiness to match the consumer’s, er, preferences. She even has sensors in her womanly organs that are to gather a vocal response when touched. Barring any major malfunctions, and as long as her battery doesn’t run out, she is yours for about $7,000. While her creators have assumed that Roxxxy is only meant for a niche clientele (or at least one hopes) preorders have been flooding in, in the thousands, since her debut at the Las Vegas Adult Entertainment Expo last month.
This story is disturbing on so many levels, but where to begin? For me, personally, it’s not the idea that there are thousands of lonely (and gullible) men who are actually eager to spend $7,000 on a sex robot than say, on a high end prostitute, who is, at the very least, a real-live person. (I’m not trying to make an argument for prostitution; I’m only trying to argue the alternatives to such an investment). Rather, it’s the idea that today’s technology, as embodied by Roxxxy, can be manipulated and marketed to replace what is arguably the most human and intimate of functions—human procreation. Now, in 2010, there is no real need for single, lonely men who “have trouble meeting girls” to do anything to establish a real personal connection with a member of the opposite sex if they consider the idea just too horrifying or haven’t left their house for the past two months since they’ve started to build the next supercomputer by hand.
Similarly, the iPhone application Brushes offers “mobile painting”, and such “paintings” have actually appeared on the cover of the New Yorker several times. Why bother, Brushes argues, with years of training and tuition and messy paints when all you need is a gizmo on an iPhone? Once again, with the right amount of greenbacks and with not a whole lot of self-esteem, technology is trying to make things that are supposed to be difficult, very easy. Creating and sustaining relationships that might involve sex can be one of the most exhaustive things one can ever do, and yet, today, a high-tech blow-up doll has managed to do just that. Roxxxy may never turn into a real live human being, but hey, at least we humans are willing to settle for what we pay for, without having to put in too much effort. A Brushes painting may have not taken the training or contemplation that a normal painting would require, but if the New Yorker can put it on its cover, then clearly then it must be art enough, no? In other words, we’re finding all kinds of ways for the instrumentality of technology to replace tasks that would usually require input from our emotions, our moral judgment and human esthetic, and I’m starting to wonder if one day we’d like to get rid of these purely human capacities altogether. Just as long as we get the job done, we’re starting to care less and less how it’s done.
Well, as with my take on sex with robots, I think I’ll just have to say no.