Doctors are about to start prescribing sex robots for patients – Could that be the end of civilization?

Now that the science of robotics has progressed so much over the past decade, it was only a matter of time before the next step was taken and someone began speculating about how great it would be to have a sex robot that would fulfill your sexual desires, but does the advent of such technology spell the beginning of the end for human civilization?

That’s exactly the question being asked by Glenn Geher, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz, in an article he wrote for Psychology Today. 

Geher begins by noting that sex robots are now legal and may even be paid for by insurance if you can prove you have a sexual dysfunction:

“Imagine this: A totally realistic robot of your own design that is capable of fully carrying out any sex act that you can dream up. It looks, smells, and sounds incredibly realistic. And your state-sponsored insurance paid for her in full. In effect, she was free—prescribed by your physician to help with your status as officially “sexually dysfunctional.” Recent federal legislation, supported overwhelmingly by a male majority in the House and Senate, has made this kind of medical prescription perfectly legal.”

At first glance, you might be tempted to say, That’s not my business. Let people do as they please. I don’t care who has a sex robot at home.

But such things, Geher argues, are what can best be known as “supernormal stimuli.” An example would be humans eating high-fat food to compensate for drought and famine among our ancient ancestors. Another is pornography. And both of them can be deemed “hijackers” when it comes to human emotional development:

“Supernormal stimuli are essentially hijackers. They are human-created technological products that hijack our evolved psychology in a way that leads to short-term emotional and/or physiological benefits. However, since these products are, at the end of the day, evolutionarily unnatural, they quite often do not lead to the long-term evolutionary benefits (such as strong connections with others and/or long-term reproductive gains) which pertain to why these stimuli evolved to be desired by humans in the first place. We can call this evolutionary irony.”

Still, you might argue, who cares people do for pleasure as long as they don’t harm another person? But the long-term implications, according to Geher, could well lead to the most fundamental foundations of human civilization being torn asunder:

“In short, the advent of sex robot technology may well foreshadow, in many ways, the demise of intimate relationships in the modern world.

“Once we think about this technology from an evolutionary perspective, we can quickly see that sex robots will represent an unprecedented form of supernormal stimulus—one that may well have extraordinary physiological short-term benefits, along with equally extraordinary long-term costs, ultimately taxing individuals, dyads, families, and broader communities.”

Think about it for a moment: We already shelter ourselves behind computer screens and smartphones that keep us distant from others. Now suppose we suddenly have our most basic need for gratification and even “love” being met by a robot. As the late comedian George Carlin once exclaimed in another context, “I’d never leave the house!” And that’s the problem: We need to leave the house. We need to interact. We need to be with others. But sex robots may make all of that superfluous.

Technology is a wonderful thing that has provided us with some incredible advances over the centuries. But are we ready for a technology that may well destroy the foundations our world is built upon?


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