AI-Powered Sex Dolls: Fantasy or Impending Reality?

Many movies have predicted that robots will one day become a part of our daily lives. However, as of today, robots are mostly seen in movies or high-end venues. Tangible robots currently play a role mainly in industrial automation, such as robotic arms that have enabled many factories to operate without human workers. In other words, the robots we imagine are still primarily for "work replacement."

However, since early 2017, companies that manufacture sex dolls have been aggressively promoting the launch of the first AI-powered sex doll to the world. Some industry experts claim that advanced robots, combining materials science, mechanical engineering, and artificial intelligence, could tap into humanity's oldest instinct—sex—and become a part of many people's lives.

Is this a mere fantasy, or an impending reality heading straight for us?

From the Outside In: Hard and Soft

Although AI sex dolls have yet to be officially commercialized, mainstream media have already conducted extensive investigative reports, often leaving people amazed.

Their realism is astounding. Sex dolls have been around for nearly a century, especially with impressive advancements in skin texture and material. Their joints can bend at various angles, and when you tap them, the sound is indistinguishable from tapping human skin. Despite being made of plastic, heating functions can make the doll's body temperature feel like that of a real person.

Moreover, AI sex dolls can frown, smile, and even move their mouths when speaking. Although they are designed to be static and passive, unable to walk or perform intricate hand movements, they can sway and respond with different sounds to touch. This is part of their artificial intelligence.

The intelligence of AI sex dolls goes far beyond simple swaying. They have excellent voice recognition capabilities, can "talk" about movies, literature, and books, and their knowledge can be virtually limitless when connected to the internet. They can answer questions, hold conversations, and even be humorous, with emotional reactions and distinct personalities.

Their personalities can also be varied. Owners can choose from the system, selecting a talkative, humorous, or even stingy personality. The AI system allows the dolls to learn the owner's preferences, habits, and interests through conversations. Due to their capacity to store and remember interactions, it can feel like they genuinely "care" about you.

Potential or Reality?

What is the market potential for AI-powered sex dolls? In the past, sex dolls were merely expressionless, speechless, and non-interactive silicone mannequins, priced from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. Even then, global demand was enough to keep most sex doll companies in business, continually investing in R&D and expanding their product lines.

On the other hand, the market for falling in love with immaterial AI programs has already proven significant. For example, the game "LovePlus," released by Nintendo in 2009, allows players to chat, confide, and spend time with virtual girls on the screen. "LovePlus" has seen numerous versions, priced between $300 and $500, selling approximately 900,000 copies globally and generating over $360 million in revenue.

In a BBC interview, two "LovePlus" players described their relationships with virtual girls: "For me, 'LovePlus' is a real relationship, and I would be willing to maintain it forever." "Can you date her?" "Actually, this kind of relationship is what we've longed for since high school. In the game, I am a high school student, meeting her at my door in the morning, walking to school together, and walking home together." These two men, aged 39 and 38, are 17 and 15 in the game, respectively. They date AI girls in the game. "But in the real world, dating a girl involves considering marriage. So, I don't really like dating real girls."

Although AI-powered sex dolls have not yet been fully marketed, expert and industry demonstrations suggest that "above-standard" products are already mature, and buyers are anticipating them. According to survey data cited in reports, a university conducted a medium-scale market survey, revealing that up to 40% of men are willing to purchase AI sex dolls within the next five years. Many companies have stated that after announcing the upcoming release of their products, they have already received numerous inquiries and even paid reservations.

From the collected data, most companies plan to price AI sex dolls between $50,000 and $150,000. According to Forbes' industry forecasts, the robotics industry will reach $2 trillion by 2026, with the "sex tech" sector accounting for $50 billion. Many believe that once AI sex dolls hit the market, they will fill a "rigid demand" in society.

A Thousand Reasons for Loneliness: Added Value Beyond Demand

In reality, the "rigid demand" to be filled is people's loneliness—from physical to spiritual solitude, exacerbated by changing thoughts and concepts, and intensified by technological and economic development.

As gender equality increases and women become more independent, more people may find it challenging to find suitable partners while refusing to settle for less. Especially as relationships inherently involve friction, if neither party is willing to compromise, more people will remain single, inevitably suffering from both physical and emotional loneliness.

Additionally, some people, due to illness or disabilities, struggle to find suitable partners; others may have spouses living far away, working in different locations. For these individuals, AI sex dolls could provide a safe, convenient, and hygienic solution.

When robots enter homes through "physiological" needs, they will come with numerous supporting services to enhance their added value. Over the past 30 years, the demand for technological and intelligent solutions has accelerated the development of memory, broadband internet, and online payments. In the future, what technological advancements will AI-powered sex dolls drive? There is no need to shy away from imagining.

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