Erobots. Welcome to a new world of intimacy. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and social robotics, robots are learning to communicate, learn and socialise, gradually changing our society. However, research on human-machine interaction is still in its early stages, especially in the areas of intimacy and sexuality.
From the media and gendered presentation of sexual technologies to their medical and therapeutic potential, researchers are tackling diverse topics in the context of the development of humanoid erobots.
Surprisingly, it is intimacy and sexuality that may be some of the most important areas to consider when it comes to the AI revolution, as new advanced technologies increase the possibilities for human-erobot interaction increase too.
The term erobot describes all VR, AR and tangible products/tools and the technologies that create them. It includes – but is not limited to – prototypes of erotic robots, virtual or augmented erotic characters, online partnering applications or erotic chatbots.
The word erobot is based on a combination of the words eros (a philosophical term referring to love, desire, sensuality and sexuality) and robot (a machine capable of autonomously performing a complex series of actions).
This new phrase is intended to emphasise the relational aspects of the new erotic technologies and to highlight the fact that artificial ‘agents’ are becoming autonomous social actors.
Among the most well-known types of erobots are human-like sex robots. However, these represent only a fraction of what erobots are and can be as a result of the advancement, s
a combination and interconnection of new technologies.
For example, advances made in conversational robots or virtual and augmented reality will increasingly expose humans to new kinds of erotic partners.
These partners will be able to express themselves through various interfaces such as mobile phones, computers, game consoles and VR/AR devices. In simulated worlds, they will be able to take on different forms and experience unlimited situations and feelings.
New intimate relationships between humans and machines will emerge. We will redefine what it means to fall in love and have sex with artificial beings.
Erobotics is an emerging field of transdisciplinary research that explores our interaction with artificial erotic technologies, which we increasingly treat as full-fledged social actors.
In the future, erobots could be used not only in the realm of social and erotic relationships, but also in healthcare, education and research.
In therapeutic settings, they could help patients with fears and anxieties related to intimacy or help trauma victims to rediscover their bodies and sexuality.
They could provide interactive sex education and help people learn about respect, consent, diversity, mutuality and love in innovative ways.
As standardized research tools, they could help researchers overcome the ethical and methodological challenges associated with sensitive research agendas.
If humanity is to reap the enormous positive benefits of erobots, transdisciplinary collaboration between many disciplines will be needed – from computer engineering and programming to the social sciences and humanities. Bringing together the scientific community and the private sector will also be an important step.
A future based on collaboration and the courage to be open and face completely new relationships is therefore key to the development of erobots that will make a positive contribution to humanity on an individual and collective level.
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