If the movies we have long been accustomed to are anything to go by, you will probably agree with me on surface level that robots are probably about to take over- it’s really just a matter of programming, manufacturing and their assimilation into the world as we know it. Artificial Intelligence has already arrived and there is a whole can of worms opened regarding their contribution towards furthering our human existence and a fair amount of concern (and much disagreement) with the level of precaution to be taken regarding our receptiveness as humans.

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We all saw it coming though. The blockbusters throughout the decades have shed considerable light in helping us imagine a world with pseudo-human beings coexisting with the ever so problematic mankind. If there is any irony to draw from any of the negative hypothetical scenarios we can discuss, is the fact that robots are a product of human ingenuity, we would practically have achieved engineering our own demise should the reality unfold. This makes me ponder on the important role Hollywood has played in ushering us into the impending future we are already in- and it’s probably too late to retrogress now. The future is not about to fall out of the sky though. Nations and big corporates have already invested in piloting, simulating and testing the multifaceted innovations of robotics into our world today and if you are interested in knowing more about the nuances of these creations, there is already a widespread availability of information about these projects all over the internet.

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The disruptive nature of this technological milestone will definitely have a direct impact on the labour force as we know it today. The stats according to CB Insights saw the number in robotics funding deals just about double from $273 million in 2014 to $587 million in 2015. Everyday industries rendering a service to the average person whether financially or medically are already involved in incorporating artificial intelligence to ensure their mechanisms will be up to par for a “better tomorrow”. Though still in the early stages of adoption, investments into robotics in the banking sector are said to be increasing operational productivity while remaining time and cost effective. Medically, robot surgery is said to be a great intervention in the way surgery is being done. Automation assists surgeons to operate being countries away from the patient or simply a personal robot assisting in making the finer, less pain and more precise incisions resulting in greater healing time for patients.

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This really does not have to be all doom and gloom. Artificial Intelligence is definitely going to change the way we even party, learn and drive too. It’s already happening. It’s not a new conceptual phenomenon. I think I made peace with how invasive technology can be when the elderly also started getting tech savvy. Nonetheless, key debates have risen on the ramifications some breakthroughs will have on the moral fibre of our world, more specifically sex relations between humans.

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I guess at this stage you should be asking yourself what distinguishes you as a human being from a robot. Morality among humans has in my experience always boiled down to the “do unto others as you want them to do unto you” relative philosophy. The sanctity of life has been considerably esteemed and revered. (In South Africa, no matter how heinous the crime, the death penalty has long been done away with). Norms, values and socially acceptable behaviour have points of reference as we continue our life as social animals whether the issue is legalising cannabis or allowing prostitution to enjoy equal rights and recognition with other professions.

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Regardless of your stance on these matters, you certainly would have to also weigh in as the vibrator is not the only electronic sex tool we would be referring to in the next decade to come. Sex robots are also a reality today, and experts say that this will probably not only serve as a fetish but also for companionship (do not ask me if we will be marrying robots, though I have seen crazier things in my short lifetime). The bone of contention is whether or not the development and influx of sex robots will either reinforce the sexual objectification of real life women and children or mitigate it by making robots the objects of “affection”? (a real ethical dilemma wouldn’t you say?).

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There are a number of circumstances informing the demand of robots filling the gap of what is commonly supposed to be a human’s space to fill. It is also worth noting that the radical surge is not an imposition by the tech industry but rather there is a demand for sex robots by already existing sex doll users. Whether it’s because one has a tough time making or maintaining intimate relations (with other red-blooded humans) or a blunt preference for a robot over a human being, the supply is already being worked on. These conversations are finding practical importance today as there will most likely be an increase in the manufacturers making human looking sex robots worldwide with a forecast that sex dolls will be as “ubiquitous as cell phones” by the end of the 2020’s.

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There is a global call to consider our worldviews and convictions as such complexities challenge the essence of our existential meditations. One thing is certain, we need to be taking a closer interest into Artificial Intelligence beyond the reference of movies or a future we believe is very far away. I am a lover of technology and a proponent of embracing it. I am also an advocate for a holistic approach in dealing with the multifaceted challenges we face in our society- these are just one of them.

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Human and sex trafficking is rife. If sex robots could deter this then maybe they are a justifiable innovation. It would however be questionable to believe that sex robots are really being made with the sole purpose of fighting a social cause- there is much profit to be made obviously! As a social species, the integration of robots into our spaces could problematize a lot of what is already institutionalized, both good and socially reprehensible constructs. These are dialogues we should all weigh into.

The future is today.

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