Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have raised a dystopian concern for women: What if female robots become so realistic - and so adept at sex - that they render men incapable of engaging in real human relationships?
Actually, I think it's the men who should be worried. It's entirely possible that robots can outperform them.
Perhaps it's time for a Big Think. Are women not as capable as men of crude objectification? There's room here for everyone's impure thoughts and desires. Robots don't discriminate, and they can probably give good massages.
Don't get me wrong, I have a good husband. I doubt I would trade in. But if I had a daughter, I might consider giving her a robot as a college graduation present. Preferably one who can do the dishes and guard the door.
And yes, I do think women could get spoiled by dashing menbots. Their standards might go up. They might even be lost to the dating pool altogether - like what's already happened with some Japanese men.
Would that be such a bad thing? In the #MeToo age, I feel like raising standards is quite reasonable. It's called for, in fact. Make the men compete. It's the dating equivalent of having free state colleges lower tuition rates everywhere.
Granted, there could be dangers. There is, for example, the possibility that hackers could turn sex robots into killers. But the statistician in me can't help asking: Would that make them more of a threat than actual men? Given the baseline murder rate for human sexual partners, it's hard to get too worried. Plus, if they can understand female anatomy - I mean, really understand it - maybe it's worth the risk.
Just to be clear: I'm not saying we should want to live in a militant feminist world without men. Far from it, I am suggesting that women and men can coexist, but possibly not cohabitate. Men will likely have trouble with things like household chores and remembering to go to the doctor regularly, but they'll manage. Maybe Siri can make their appointments.
Who knows? If our sexual needs can be met by intimate automated helpers, maybe we'll end up stronger as a community. We'll come together, online or in person, and be more respectful, more relaxed, less edgy. It's worth a try. So bring on the sex robots.
- O'Neil is a mathematician who has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist. She founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company, and is the author of "Weapons of Math Destruction."
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