UBC prof: the sex robots are coming to save your marriage. No, really

Click to play video: 'Could sex robots have a positive impact on a marriage?'
Could sex robots have a positive impact on a marriage?
WATCH: Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave. A UBC professor is supporting an unusual solution to potential marital problems: sex robots – Apr 17, 2018

With the rapid evolution of technology, it seems every day something new is stepping from the pages of science fiction into everyday life.

Sex robots could very well be making that leap soon.

While the idea of physical intimacy with a machine will no doubt be uncomfortable to some and repellent to others, there are those who argue the introduction of sex robots into our lives could be an agent for positive change.

Among those proponents is Marina Adshade, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, who argues bringing robots into the bedroom could be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage.

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Adshade has penned a chapter in the new book Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, and says introducing sex robots into a marriage wouldn’t necessarily be about replacing a spouse.

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Rather than substitutes for human companionship, she argues they could work to complement it.

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“That’s a pretty naive view of why men choose to marry,” she told Global News.

“Men out there are not marrying simply because it gives them easy access to sex. Right now, men have access to sex outside of marriage. People get married for other reasons, for human companionship, the opportunity to have a family, share your life with another person.”

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Adshade argues that just because we enjoy the company of robots doesn’t exclude enjoying the company of humans — and could actually enhance our relationships with partners.

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Adshade argues that the very definition of a marriage has change radically in the past half-century.

Where the role of a man was once to bring home an income while a wife was expected to raise a family, she says expectations and responsibilities within a marriage have proliferated.

In fact, she argues, de-linking sex and marriage could actually work instead to take pressure off modern relationships.

“Yes, pressure off the relationship — but also pressure in terms of who you choose. You know, right now, we want somebody who is everybody to us,” she said.

“We want somebody who is going to be a great parent, a great companion, your best friend, somebody who you’re also sexually compatible with. That’s a tall order.”

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She said sex robots could allow people to define their own forms of marriage — one that’s based on creating a family or is purely for companionship.

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Even if sex robots aren’t widely adopted by society, they provide a valuable way to open the conversation around what marriage is and how it will evolve as society and technology advances, Adshade added.

Either way, it will likely be some time yet before sex robots could become common household tech.

While some are advanced enough to perform multiple sex acts and respond to verbal and physical stimulus, they remain both expensive — retailing for between $5,000 and $15,000 — and in Adshade’s opinion, far too crude.

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“People keep saying this is five years away, this is six years away. I don’t think it’s actually that close, because robot technology is taking an incredibly long time to develop,” she said.

“For example, the Real Dolls that everybody sees that are called robots, there’s nothing about them that makes them a robot… they don’t even have heaters in them, so they’re not even body temperature. That’s how far away we are.”

Adshade will be reading from her chapter in the book at the UBC Bookstore on Wednesday.

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