Sex & Relationships

Sex Doll Maker Says New Menbots with 'Bionic Penises' on the Way

And now, for something completely different.

Photo Credit: Stacy Leigh / Real Doll

In the movies, the sexy robots almost always read as women, from Maria of Metropolis to Ava in Ex Machina. Men are the inventors and “fembots” are the ever-evolving inventions, because even the world’s most visionary filmmakers apparently can’t imagine a world with STEM field gender parity.

In the last two decades, art and life have taken turns mirroring each other as technology has steadily improved. Today, real-life humanoid sex toys are overwhelmingly female, as are nearly all artificial intelligence personalities. (Just ask Siri, Alexa or Sophia.) Put those innovations together and you get talking silicone “sexbots” like Harmony, an AI dream girl for men who like their women compliant and short on opinions. (For the record, there are enough of those guys in the world to keep sex-doll brothels in Germany and Spain afloat.)

Enter into this landscape a new AI male sex robot. The model will reportedly be manufactured by Realbotix, the company behind those hyperrealistic RealDolls as well as the aforementioned Harmony. CEO Matt McMullen told the UK’s Daily Star that in 2018, his company will roll out “a male version of the robot AI," which will feature a bionic penis that’s “better than a vibrator.” When the robot is plugged into an electrical source, it will last “as long as you want,” according to McMullen. Not only will it speak and be capable of learning, the unnamed sexbot will develop and commit to memory (card) a repertoire of skills tailored to the sexual tastes of its owner. As with all RealDolls, buyers will be able to choose between body type, skin color and length and girth of, you know, various parts. Pubic hair costs a bit extra, but at a starting price of $15,000, who’s really counting?

According to the Guardian, the sex-tech industry worldwide is about $30 billion strong, and includes sales of products from “sex toys that can be operated remotely, apps for finding sexual partners and virtual-reality porn.” A recent Vox article noted that the "most overlooked market for sex robots is women,” and it’s worth noting that McMullen’s proposed male sexbot would be an industry first. An AI platform developed specifically for women users would be a new development, since the tech has recently come under fire for exhibiting the same biases, including racism and sexism, as its overwhelmingly white and male engineer creators. (Writing for the New York Times, Microsoft’s Kate Crawford identified this as AI’s “white guy problem.”) That said, as long as women of all races and people of color are sidelined in tech, those problems will persist, even in platforms supposedly created with women in mind.

Roughly 80 percent of RealDoll customers request female models, but McMullen suggests the new manbot will be “one of the next big things” to happen at his company, a sign he believes there’s an untapped market. And while some have fretted about the potential for female sex robots to render living, breathing, (god forbid) speaking women irrelevant (an outcome alt-right jerks and so-called men’s rights activists have actively cheered for), mathematician and author Cathy O’Neil foresees a different outcome.

“I think it’s the men who should be worried,” O’Neil, with tongue firmly in cheek, wrote at Bloomberg several days ago. “It’s entirely possible that [male] robots can outperform them.... 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.”

Addressing the potential popularity of male sex dolls enabled with teledildonics—meaning controlled via internet/computer—O’Neil address the up- and down-sides.

“Granted, there could be dangers,” she warns. “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."

Kali Holloway is a senior writing fellow and the senior director of Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute.