My latest article for sciencefiction.com explores the taboo subject of artificial people used for sex. The stimulus was this article by columnist Caitlin Moran in The Times.
This was how Caitlin Moran, a columnist on The Times of London, summed up recent research from two New Zealand academics. Ms Moran suggested that this outcome: ‘would be both ethical and pleasurable: robots could be customized to provide “a range of ethnicities, sizes and ages”, and would provide a “guilt-free” experience for men – as, technically, they wouldn’t have had sex. They just would have used a “sex machine”, as prophesied by James Brown, all those years ago. In addition, a robot sex trade would mean “no more trafficked sex slaves”: we wouldn’t need to steal girls from Eastern Europe if we could just make them instead, build a factory to make plastic, f***able things that looked like girls, but never cried for their mothers, accidentally got pregnant or ran away.‘
Science Fiction has already imagined this possibility. In his novel ‘The Holy Machine’, Chris Beckett considers the future technopolis of Illyria, a science-based city state on the Eastern Mediterranean seaboard, an oasis of technology in a world relapsed to religious fundamentalism. For some of the reasons Ms Moran already outlined, the rulers of Illyria have sanctioned brothels containing ‘Advanced Sensual Pleasure Units’ (ASPUs) – ‘syntec’ devices with skins of vat-grown human flesh.