Do You, Human, Take This Robot...?

An enjoyable article in Slate asks the question "Should humans be able to marry robots?"

The Supreme Court’s recent 5–4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States has already spawned speculation about “what will be next” in expanding marital rights...

Robot-human marriages might be next on the list. Probably not soon, admittedly, but it nevertheless will be an inevitable part of our future. Indeed, some critics of same-sex marriage, including some conservative Christian opponents of gay marriage, have argued that the court’s recognition of same-sex marriage would inevitably lead to robotic-human marriages. There has recently been a burst of cogent accounts of human-robot sex and love in popular culture: Her (with Scarlett Johanssen) and Ex Machina, the AMC drama series Humans, and the novel Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. These fictional accounts of human-robot romantic relationships follow David Levy’s compelling, even if reluctant, argument for the inevitability of human-robot love and sex in his 2007 work Love and Sex With Robots. If you don’t think human-robot sex and love will be a growing reality of the future, read Levy’s book, and you will be convinced...

As far as I know, the first really explicit version of this idea may be found in Alice W. Fuller's story about a similar device in her 1895 story A Wife Manufactured to Order:

"Now, young man, what can I do for you? Want a life-companion, a pleasant one? Man of means, no doubt, and can enjoy yourself; a little fun now and then with the boys and no harm at all -- none in the least... Now, sir, I can get you up any style you want -- wax, but can't be detected."

"Do you mean to say you manufacture a woman out of wax, who will talk?"

"That's just what I do; you give me the subjects you most enjoy talking upon, and tell me what kind of a looking wife you want, and leave the rest to me, and you will never regret it. I will furnish as many 'phones' as you wish; most men don't care for such a variety for a wife -- too much talk, you know."
(Read more about the manufactured wife)

Another depiction of this possibility may be found in Fritz Leiber's mechanical bride in 1954:

Streamlined, smooth-working, absolutely noiseless, breath-takingly realistic. Each one is powered by thirty-seven midget electric motors, all completely noiseless, and is controlled by instructions, recorded on magnetic tape, which are triggered off by the sound of your voice and no one else's. There is a built-in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain that selects a suitable answer. The de luxe model is built to your specifications, has fifty different facial expressions...

Fans of early cinema might also remember the female robot from Fritz Lang's 1927 classic Metropolis.


(Female robot from Fritz Lang's Metropolis)

Take a look at some of this robot's rivals:

  - Actroid DER2 Late Model Fembot
  - E.M.A. Robot Eternal Maiden Actualization Video
  - Actroid DER2 Gets TV Commercial Gig Video
  - Palette Super Model Robot
  - Aiko Fembot No Stepford Wife

Take a look at Should Humans be able to Marry Robots? on Slate.

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