Uncanny Female Robots

Uncanny Female Robots, by Diana Fleischman.

The average single man paying attention to contemporary social fashions will struggle to understand the new rules of meeting, courting, or having sex with women. Something as banal as trying to converse with a woman wearing headphones is now often considered harassment. A man’s chances of mating success increase when he approaches many women, but so too do his chances of a gaining reputation as sexist, exploitative, or immoral. To take a fraught example, how does a man know that a woman is genuinely consenting to sex? A lack of ability to pick up on cues can incur catastrophic costs.

Men high in conscientiousness, who are sensitive to social disapproval but who nonetheless have difficulty reading subtle social cues, could make good husbands for women. These men are unlikely to want to take the risk of approaching women. As substitutes like sex robots and virtual companions become better and cheaper, they will monopolize the attention of such men.

Think of an introverted engineer with Asperger’s syndrome who wasn’t sure how to broach a conversation with a woman back in 2015 and definitely isn’t sure how to do that in today’s climate. In 10 years he could have a beautiful robot companion (indeed, he could have one that could emulate the experience of having sex with dozens of different women) that has a lower barrier to entry than the mating market and that keeps him satisfied enough to remain a happy bachelor. Some woman misses out on a conscientious guy with a good income who might not know exactly how to respond when she says “nothing’s wrong,” but will definitely keep the cars tuned up to get the kids to their mathematics championships. The world might miss out on his sons and daughters and their analytical approaches to some of the world’s problems. …

Social stability:

In the 1980s, evolutionary psychologist couple Wilson and Daly found that perpetrators of violence and homicide had something in common: they were young, single and didn’t have access to the kinds of resources with which to win mates.

Polygynous societies in which wealthier men have access to multiple women are more violent and less stable because they have a class of young men without the prospect of getting a mate. …

Men have much greater variance of reproductive success than women. Sometimes they get cues that they have nothing to lose you have everything to gain from taking risks through violence, sexual or otherwise. This is one reason that pornography decreases the rate of sexual assault. When men get cues that women are interested in them, even if those women are mere representations, their evolved psychology leads them to less risky ways of attempting to achieve reproductive success. How many teenaged boys would be able to build up the resentment to commit mass shootings or suicide if they had a beautiful sex robot at home?

Importantly, this is distinct from Freudian catharsis, or “discharge theory”. There isn’t evidence that aggressive or sexual impulses can be purged by “getting them out of your system.” The motivation for these impulses is instead weakened by environmental cues that indicate you don’t need to engage in risky strategies to achieve reproductive success. The cues a sex robot would provide to the evolved psychology of a previously disgruntled teenager would be “you’re achieving incredible mating success and status by staying at home and playing video games, keep at it!” …

What about women?

What does this mean for women? When the sex ratio changes, so too do sexual norms; sex robots are going to emulate an increase in the ratio of women to men. On University campuses with a larger percentage of women relative to men, women are more likely to have casual sex, they’re less likely to be virgins and they’re more likely to have negative attitudes about men. When there are more men than women, women are much less likely to have casual sex.

The majority sex competes for the minority sex and the minority sex calls the shots — a female majority competes with casual sex and a male majority competes with long-term commitment. …

Underpinning feminist anxiety is the specter of female replaceability. Having long been concerned with governing male desire, the feminist project now faces the possibility of being routed around.

The future is nearly here.