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BY ERIC SPITZNAGEL
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW SPEAR
David Mills has a great story about the time he brought a date home and she almost saw his sex robot.
“Everything was going well, and we were heading toward the bedroom,” he says. “And that’s when I realized, ‘Oh crap, Taffy’s in there!’”
Taffy is Mills’s sex robot. He gave her that name because it sounded young and playful.
Mills and Taffy are celebrating their two-year anniversary. In June of 2014, Mills had her delivered from a company called Abyss Creations in San Marcos, California.
Taffy is the “RealDoll2, Body A” model, with silicone skin and stainless-steel joints. Her $7,149 price tag included an extra $500 for custom freckles, because Mills wanted her to look more realistic.
The doll also features, per Abyss’s website, “ultra-realistic labia,” “stretchy lips,” and a hinged jaw that “opens and closes very realistically.”
But back to the very real woman he’d brought back to his place.
“I didn’t want my date to walk into the room and suddenly see Taffy,” he says. “Because if you’re not expecting her, she’s kind of terrifying.”
During the first few months she lived with him, Mills says he’d often come home, see the frozen figure sitting on a chair, and let out a blood-curdling scream.
“So I say to this girl, ‘Give me a minute.’ And I run into the bedroom and quickly throw a sheet over Taffy.”
He laughs, like it’s the kind of story he tells at dinner parties. “That was a close one.”
Mills looks down at Taffy, who’s lying on his bed covered with a blue blanket and a pile of dirty laundry.
Her face is the only part of her that’s visible, and with her vacant stare and unkempt blonde hair, she looks like a dead body, the equivalent of a fresh corpse peeking out of leaves in a forest preserve, waiting to be discovered by an unsuspecting morning jogger.
“I wouldn’t exactly call this a relationship,” he says, hesitantly. “I think one of the misconceptions about sex robots is that owners view their dolls as alive, or that my doll is in love with me, or that I sit around and talk to her about whether I should buy Apple stock. In other words, that the owners are batshit out of their minds.”
Aside from the doll in his bedroom, there’s nothing especially off-putting about Mills.
He’s 57, with a curly mop of brown hair, a goatee, and a pear-shaped physique. He’s twice divorced, with a 20-year-old daughter he says is well aware of Taffy’s existence.
“We don’t really talk about it,” he says. “Just like we don’t talk about my television set or washing machine.”
He still dates, and he occasionally tells the women about Taffy. And sometimes, sure, they freak out.
“They’ll be like, ‘Don’t call me anymore, I’m unfriending you on Facebook, stay away from me and my children,’ that sort of thing,” he laughs. “But I’ve met some women who were into me because of the doll. I’ve had sexual experiences that I never would’ve had without Taffy.”
By “sexual experiences,” he means exactly what you think he means.
“There was one time where . . . let me think.”
He pauses, trying to remember where he was on the bed in relation to the other two women, only one of whom had a heartbeat.
“I was sucking on Taffy’s left breast,” he finally decides, “and this girl was sucking on the other. It was great. Really hot. I think she was bi-curious.”
WE ALL WANT TO BE LOVED (BY SOMETHING THAT RUNS ON BATTERIES)
This wasn’t what we were promised. Sex robots were supposed to be sexier. Or at least not as creepy.
When you think of cyborgs with functioning genitals, you probably imagine someone sleek and beautiful—aesthetically perfect—and capable of staggering carnal hydraulics. Like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, or Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science, or Nicole Kidman in The Stepford Wives.
Sex robots in 2016 are more reminiscent of Mattel’s Chatty Cathy dolls from the 1960s, which couldn’t do much besides coo “Give me a kiss.”
The two biggest names in U.S. sex robot technology—Abyss Creations and True Companion in Wayne, New Jersey—are already selling robotic lovers, but both companies offer more promises than realistic intimacy.
Abyss’s RealDolls come with an abundance of options; you can choose from 19 faces, five eye colors, 15 hairstyles, and 11 different styles of labia. Who knew vaginas came in so many variations?
Meanwhile, the “RoxxxyGold” robot from True Companion—with a base price, before the extras, of $6,995—offers such enticing options as “a heartbeat and a circulatory system” and the ability to “talk to you about soccer.”
Plus, regardless of your skills, it will always have an “orgasm.”
And of course, the reason anyone wants a sex robot: She has an off switch.
Taffy and her ilk are laughably primitive. But then again, so were the Wright Brothers’ prototypes. We went from “this is a fantasy” to “I want more legroom in premium economy” in less than a century.
In Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, AI expert David Levy predicted that by 2050, “Love with robots will be as normal as love with other humans.” He even promised that Massachusetts would be the first state to legalise marriage to robots.
Stowe Boyd, M.S., a New York-based futurist and analyst of emerging technologies, went even further, claiming in a 2014 Pew Research survey that in less than 10 years, by 2025, “Robotic sex partners will be a commonplace, although the source of scorn and division, the way that critics today bemoan selfies as an indicator of all that’s wrong with the world.”
The people actually creating this technology aren’t as conservative with the timeline.
Matt McMullen, the CEO and founder of RealDolls, thinks it could only take a handful of years before we see a robot capable not just of ultra-realistic sex, but of “expressing the illusion of emotions.”
Douglas Hines, the founder and president of True Companion, expects that even before the end of this year, we could have commercially available robot partners that don’t just submit to sexual fantasies but also offer “unconditional love and support.”
That’s right, these robots won’t just screw you. They’ll fall in love with you.
Which presents a moral quandary. The sex robots of today aren’t especially tempting. But the sex robots of tomorrow might just embody everything you want from a woman.
For the right price, you could have a partner that thinks exactly like you and shares your beliefs and interests.
She’ll be tailor-made to your tastes, with none of the compromises that come with having a relationship with a real woman.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF HUMAN RELATIONS?
“Have you ever tried to put on fake eyelashes?” Mills asks.
He gently brushes a hand across Taffy’s face, moving a tangled strand of hair out of her eyes.
“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he says. “It’s the little things, like putting pantyhose on her. That was an ordeal. Being with her has taught me how difficult it is to be a woman.”
He says he’s on the fence about artificial intelligence. For Mills, the main appeal of Taffy is that their relationship is uncomplicated.
He’ll never feel anything approaching real emotional intimacy with her. He’ll never feel the electricity of a first kiss, or know that she understands him in ways nobody else does.
But then again, he never has to worry that she might be taking advantage of him, which he says has happened with females of the human variety.
At the same time, Mills lets slip hints of genuine loneliness.
“If I could press a button right now and have the choice of being with a sex robot or a real woman, I’d pick the real woman every time,” he says. “Well, most of the time.”
A harem of cyborg sex partners either sounds like the perfect male fantasy or the most depressing thing you’ll ever read. That polarity is exactly what makes sex robots so difficult to justify.
No matter how you argue it, there will be something fundamentally sad about it.
It’s a way for men wary of monogamy to spread their seed around without hurting anybody. Yep, sad.
It’s not a sex robot; it’s an emotional companion for lonely people. Extra sad.
But make no mistake: Sex robots are coming. They will probably be common—as easy to buy as a new home theater system.
And then what?
Will you try one, just to see what the fuss is about? No big deal, right? What’s a one-night stand with a sex robot going to hurt?
It’s not like years will go by in a blur and you’ll wake up one day to realize that you’re a 50-year-old bachelor shacked up with a cyborg roommate who just sleeps in your bed all day, waiting to mindlessly agree with everything you say before pleasuring you in exactly the way you want.
Or will you?
“Sometimes, when I just don’t feel like looking at her, I’ll take out her vagina,” Mills says. “She stays in the bedroom, and I just walk around with her pussy.”
Mills laughs hard at this. “Isn’t modern technology wonderful?”