Marriage with a robot - the future of humanity?

It is impossible to imagine the future without robots and robotic systems. Undoubtedly, they make life much easier. However, psychologists have recently been increasingly expressing severe concern about the state of people's psyche due to the intensive introduction of machines in various fields. The development of technology reinforces the development of society, and with each passing day, mankind invents something new. Romantic relationships have also acquired a new face; now, they are just correspondence with many hearts and cute emojis. People seem to communicate a lot, again with the help of social networks, but on the other hand, live communication is dying out. For example, Dr. David Levy is convinced that people may prefer robots as partners within a few decades. Many will begin to live with them, enter into intimate relationships, and marry a soulless machine. Moreover, researchers from Maastricht University believe that by 2050 the government will legalize marriages with robots.

The mechanics of marriage. Can a person make love to a robot and marry it?

Scientists believe this scenario is more likely than a machine uprising. Dr. Levy believes that the first human-robot marriage could be registered before the middle of the century, i.e., within the next 2-3 decades. In other words, the moral boundaries in the relationship between machines and humans will be practically erased. There are all the prerequisites for this. After all, every year, robots are becoming more and more similar to humans, and it is not difficult to make them very attractive. There is a trend - robots are becoming more and more like humans and are increasingly in contact with humans. Initially, robots were used as impersonal machines - in factories where they helped build cars, for example. Then they were applied in offices to deliver mail, museum guides, or in homes as vacuum cleaners. Today there are robot toys. Researchers guess the next step will be to use robots as sexual partners. The idea of romantic relationships between humans by artificial creations is as old as the world. In Greece, there is a myth from ancient times about Pygmalion, who fell in love with an ivory statue, which Venus then gave life. Forty years ago, scientists also noticed that students were genuinely interested in the computer program ELIZA, designed to ask questions and act as a therapist. Confirmed studies confirm that in the future, robots will become so similar to humans that people will start to make love to them, have sex with them, and even marry them. It may sound strange, but in fact, it is true. Love and sex with robots is an inevitable phase, many psychologists argue. In contrast, robotics experts at the Institute of Technology don't think a marriage between humans and robots will be legalized anywhere near 2050, but anything is possible. That said, even if it is illegal, it doesn't mean humans won't try. According to scientists, people are very unusual and unpredictable creatures. It's doubtful that everyone will desire to marry a robot, but there will be a particular group of willing people. Even now, some people are ready to marry sex toys.

Advantages and possibilities

The main advantage of human-robot marriage is that it can make people who cannot get married any other way happy. It applies to those who have difficulty in relationships because of their extreme shyness, who have any psychological problems, or who are unattractive or have an unpleasant character. Such people, who are entirely desperate to build a relationship with others, are rare, but they exist. The possibility of sexual relations with robots is a somewhat ambiguous issue for humanity. For example, sex with a robot can serve as a way to satisfy criminal sexual urges. For example, if we give a pedophile a robot child, will this reduce or increase the frequency of criminal acts against real children? Hardly anyone is prepared to answer that question today. But it is a critical area for future research. Having a sex robot might reduce human prostitution and its problems. However, in marriages and other relationships, one partner may become jealous or perceive sex with a robot as cheating. Some couples may accept robots gladly. It raises a host of other questions. What will happen to our social system if we let robots ingratiate themselves into our daily lives and become connected to them? How will they affect humanity and civilization? How to answer these questions now, scientists do not know; it requires proper research. Close relationships are very much possible, and people will become psychologically and emotionally attached to these devices. All this will require serious investigation into the ethical issues of handling them.

Sexual attraction to robots: is it normal?

There is an opinion that robosexuality is pathology or paraphilia (experiencing intense sexual arousal towards atypical objects). Only technosexuals and robot fetishists, who have an abnormal attraction to gadgets and mechanisms, can have a passion for robots. Sexual interest is explained by technology fetishization, comparing robosexuality to sadomasochism. At the same time, scientists believe that, at first, sex with robots may seem perverted. But once some prestigious publication like Cosmopolitan publishes an article titled "I had sex with a robot, and it was great," many people will go for it. It will become fashionable. It might not be a magazine but a mega-popular Instagram blog with millions of followers that will move sex with robots from savagery and deviance to social normality. It will be fostered by popular culture as well. Intentionally eroticized robots and AI appear in many famous works. In Asian countries, especially Japan and South Korea, the perception of robots as intimate partners is already quite positive. Anime series in both countries often show love or sex between robots and humans. Most of the world's sales of robots for various purposes (including erotic ones) also occur in the Asian region. In addition, Japanese religious beliefs allow robots to have a soul. Shintoism holds that every object has a soul, so robots must have one as well. It makes the theme of love between humans and robots more acceptable in this culture than in other civilizations. In time, robosexuality will probably lose its negative connotations and its halo of "abnormality. It will take its place among other sexual orientations that were once condemned but are now accepted quite calmly in Western society. The word robosexual will become a simple term to describe people (or intelligent robots, if they ever appear) who are sexually or emotionally attracted to robots. It will finally happen when robots have a "soul" or a "psyche" - i.e., the rudiments of self-awareness and self-reflection (of course, if technology ever reaches that level). For now, like some other sexual orientations, robosexuality is directed only in one direction: from human to robot. It is because robots have no mind and cannot experience reciprocal feelings. But even if humans were in a hypothetical relationship with an intelligent robot, according to some futurists, this robot would not be robosexual to humans because they interpret robosexuality exclusively as an attraction to robots. According to an article by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, androids and gynoids (male and female robots, respectively) will become increasingly popular in the "sex market" over the next ten years. The irony is that a synthetic sex worker cannot pretend or cheat. It is programmed to "honestly" express pleasure, care, and lust. And do it well enough: to make us buy into them. Plausibility depends on how highly developed artificial emotional intelligence and communication skills are. So, a robot's imitation of feelings can look much more sincere and convincing than a live person's pretense.

Perfect human robots

Nevertheless, many researchers believe technology is still far from a realistic imitation of reality. Although today's robots are the pinnacle of modern technology and almost works of art, they are still far from perfect. Their skin is cold to the touch; their batteries last only a couple of hours, and their facial expressions and lip movements do not match their speech, which often does not sound right. And in addition, you can hear the engines buzzing inside the synthetic body. In addition to technological difficulties, there are also psychological problems of perception of human-like devices. In particular, the sinister valley effect. Its essence is that human simulators that look like real people cause discomfort or even disgust in many people who see them or interact with them. Therefore, robotic gardeners, firefighters, and the like should not be too humanoid to perform their tasks. Indeed, today's most commercially successful robot (vacuum cleaner) looks like a vast hockey puck. But with an automatic vacuum cleaner, everything is simple: you program it to clean a particular area in a specific time - and that's it. Does this apply to robots designed for love relationships and marriage? In a relationship, appearance and behavior are crucial. It's not just about performing some task. It involves interacting with the other in a way that elicits positive emotional and physiological responses. It requires a combination of complex behavioral skills with an aesthetic presentation and the ability to perceive and respond to one's partner. Animated limbs are another challenge in developing autonomous androids. Medical prosthetics have come a long way before using microchips and modern high-tech materials. The cost of an entire limb can exceed $10,000. The mobility of the smaller and more complicated joints in the hands and feet and their combination with a realistic appearance is still significantly constrained. Facial animation is just as challenging to implement. Today robots can move their eyes and lips and make simple grimaces. But these prototypes are rather primitive compared to the desired goal. The same applies to "body language. A robot does not make spontaneous gestures and micro-movements, and this instantly reveals an "alien" in it, causing a "valley effect" for us. It is tough to teach androids to make convincing micro-movements that are natural for us. Voice is another non-trivial task that will have to be solved. People don't like communicating with a robot partner that speaks in a "lifeless" mechanical voice, with buzzing motors inside its head. If we give an android a natural human voice, it doesn't need a powerful intellect: we can't avoid the feeling that a human is in front of us, even if the machine answers inappropriately. But even if realism is brought to a state of technical perfection regarding appearance and movements. Imagine a romantic partner who gives no emotional signals in response to your speech, from facial expression to intonation of voice. Or who responds to you inappropriately or in "out of sync" ways. Preventing this in a robot partner is probably the most crucial problem. For now, the AI of today's models extends only to talking and basic Siri or Alexa-style communication. But in the future, it will allow automata to walk, gesture, and interact with people. They will become much more than passive puppets. Robots even have their advantages. They are great companions, expressing empathy and providing the support they need. In addition, robots don't get jealous, don't make claims, and don't whine. You can trust them completely. In principle, this is an ideal spouse option. It should also be taken into account that many cannot separate emotions and work, which contributes to attachment formation. All said leads to a logical conclusion: humans falling in love with robots is entirely possible.

"Human rights" for robots

Accurate robot self-awareness is very ambitious, but it may be achievable one day. That's why some experts are already saying that machines deserve civil rights. And we need to rethink our relationship with synthetic partners. If imitating the personality of bots makes them more realistic, is it ethical to keep treating them as objects? If their artificial intelligence capabilities are sufficiently advanced, then owning such a robot can be equated with slavery and oppression. Scientists believe owning partner robots may become more "problematic" as technology advances. It gets more challenging to buy, trade, and treat robots as objects as they become more sophisticated and human-like. The person being acquired and sold is a slave. As a result, a robot created to look and behave like a human, which is later purchased, sold, and used as a tool, may be seen as something very much like a slave. It might be advisable to refrain from designing robots that resemble humans for this reason. However, the true sanity of robots is still a long way off, and with it, their possible rights. However, the fight for them is already underway. In particular, campaigns are being organized against the "rape" of sexbots. The same reasoning is used to express fears that such robots can influence society's attitudes toward women and sexual abuse of the individual.

Robotophobia and Feminism

Although fully functional and economically affordable robotic partners do not yet exist, people are already demanding their prohibition. Many researchers are convinced that the idea of robot sex partners will reinforce gender inequality and exploitation. Because sex robots are objects of human desire rather than decision-makers, they will contribute to the sexual objectification of women and children. Always-obedient sex robots can promote the idea that women must always agree with their partners. It will lead to an increase in sexual violence against human women. Thanks to the development of AI and robotics, the myth of a woman created to satisfy a man's needs is becoming a reality (similar to the biblical story in which God makes Eve brighten Adam's loneliness). So, proponents of this viewpoint categorically argue that such robots are wrong, even though there are no robots around us yet with which to test this thesis. Many feminists today worry that sex robots will reflect and perpetuate stereotypical male fantasies since male clients account for over 90 percent of this market. On the other hand, the fight against objectification and gender oppression, the flowering of radical feminism, and aggressive ideologies of equality can lead to the rise in the popularity of sex robots. After all, a robot partner won't "swing rights" for the slightest reason. He doesn't get in a bad mood; he's not capricious and doesn't throw tantrums or cheat on your girlfriend or neighbor.

Love, robots, and loneliness

Technology itself is rarely "good" or "bad." Critics of robosexuality claim that developing a market for robotic partners will lead to social isolation. Producers of these kinds of machines argue the opposite: robots will save the world from loneliness and fill the void of human lives. After all, today, even without robots, the Earth is full of lonely people. They will never find a partner or a spouse. And they won't be able to establish a relationship for a variety of reasons:

  • Congenital or acquired diseases, limited physical abilities (disabilities),
  • gender imbalances in some countries (e.g., in China, where there are already tens of millions more men than women due to government policies to limit births and the preference given to boys in Chinese culture),
  • material hardships (e.g., the need for a hefty bride price, kalam (bride price), or mahr in Islamic family law: the property that a husband has to give to his wife at the time of marriage),
  • other social requirements and stereotypes in different cultures make millions of people uncompetitive in the sex and marriage market. Robotic partners can be a good option for those who have experienced trauma or suffer from agoraphobia, disfigurement, or fear. People who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse can use robots and AI as therapeutic tools to regain a normal relationship with the opposite sex. In the age of the universal Internet and the dominance of virtuality, more and more people are experiencing difficulties in honest communication. Many social recluses do not leave home for months or even years. They have forgotten how to communicate and make close relationships or have never been able to do so. People will be able to use robotic partners for therapeutic purposes. For example, to learn basic interaction skills, get rid of anxiety, and increase self-confidence. Using robots will eliminate the threat of tactlessness or aggression from the partner. The robot will not mock or show contempt or disdain. Analysts note that global exports of male and female synthetic beings have skyrocketed, increasing by 50% in the first half of 2020. According to the manufacturers, the COVID-19 pandemic stimulated this increase in demand. The creators of robot dolls assume that for future generations, the main functions of robotic partners will be conversation and communication. Robots will be not only toys for sexual entertainment but also real partners, adoptive parents, and guardians. And, of course, spouses. Robots will always be there when needed and will leave when asked. It will lead to the fact that a robot partner or a robot spouse will be loved and appreciated much more than a living person. And they prefer to live with androids designed to suit their preferences rather than with living partners. In several countries with high living standards, robosexuality will lead to an even more significant drop in the birth rate, futurologists warn. After all, the formation of emotional attachment is a behavioral algorithm quite accessible to programming in artificial intelligence. The main reasons people fall in love almost apply to the robot-human relationship. For example, one factor that drives people to fall in love is similarities in personality, knowledge, and interests, which are programmable. Another reason is when they know that the other person loves and appreciates them, which is also programmed.

Robosexual marriages: real precedents and future ones

There are already precedents. In 2016, a French woman named Lilly proudly called herself a robosexual, saying she had been attracted to robots since she was 19 and did not like physical contact with human flesh. She 3D-printed her fiancé and named him InMoovator. When marriage between machines and humans becomes legal in France, they intend to get married and are "engaged." In 2017, Chinese robotics engineer Zheng Jiajia "married" a homemade robot, desperate to find a real girlfriend. The 31-year-old man's mother and friends were present at the ceremony, which was in full accordance with Chinese tradition. The "bride," named Yingying, can pronounce several words and recognize images and some Chinese characters. Under what conditions can marriage with a robot be officially registered? It depends on whether the robot is recognized as a person. If so, it has to accept social responsibility and legal obligations and be able to enter into a marriage contract. Why not if such a marriage would be legal and would not harm anyone?