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In a Season 5 episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, the show’s main characters come across a humanoid robot named Fiona that experiences unwanted advances from its creator. After recognizing the creator’s behavior for what it is—an “attack”—Fiona texts the company that provides storage for its data. In a confrontation with Fiona’s creator, the storage company’s SEO takes a stand: The robot doesn’t deserve to be touched like that without consent—its creator is being a creep.
Now, it seems, we could be living in a future where sex robots like Fiona have less to worry about.
Dr. Sergi Santos, inventor of a sex robot named Samantha, is working on a version of the bot with the ability to say no. That is, she can switch into an unresponsive “dummy mode” under certain circumstances—like if the robot’s under-skin sensors detect she is being touched in a disrespectful or overly aggressive way, or if she is simply bored. Still, she can’t actually ward off unwanted activity—she can only switch off her motorized functionality, transforming herself into naught but a RealDoll.
Samantha is touch-sensitive and reactive, and has a motorized face, hands, and hips. She can operate in one of two different modes: In sex mode, the robot enables a sensor-filled G-spot to simulate an orgasm. Samantha also, interestingly, has a family mode in which it can tell jokes or spout motivational quotes. The bot charges via USB.
The robot, which is expected to head into mass production at an as-yet-to-be-determined date, has a price of approximately $4,700 and is already on sale in the U.K. Santos eventually plans to make a male sex robot, as well.
The idea of sex robots has drawn a fair amount of controversy. Some think they are immoral, akin to pornography and prostitution. Others fear it could spell the end of sexual intimacy between actual humans. Santos defends his invention, believing that it could help save marriages between partners with varying libido levels. He credits the doll with saving his own marriage.
H/T Daily Mail
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.