Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues12 Mar 2017 01:14 pm

Skin-on-skin contact is not only essential in infancy, but plays a privileged role in our physical and mental health throughout our lives. A lack of physical contact can lead to increased depression and anxiety as well as being linked to heart disease and many forms of cancer.

While nothing duplicates the biochemical benefits of a rewarding sex life, affection, exercise and social bonding all have measurable physical and psychological rewards. Moments of physical and social comfort and connection reduce one’s stress level and improve one’s view of self and the world at large.

A good deal of live in person human contact and communication has been replaced by indirect and distant forms of interaction via technologies such as the computer and phone. While the amount and frequency of human contact has stagnated or declined the amount and frequency of affection people receive from their pets has increased sharply. It would be safe to say that a great percentage of people now give and receive more affection from cats, dogs and other animals than they do from other humans.

While incredibly rewarding, human affection and interaction, is often very complicated and conflictual. Affection with animals comes easy and has very little strings attached to it. Animals rarely rebuff our attention and affections and are generally available to us at our beckoning.

So, while the biochemical benefits for humans are far more muted and limited with animals, their lack of downside and relationship demands are making them a preferred companion for a growing number of people. The emotional pain associated with being rejected or abandoned by another person often results in people avoiding the risk and instead settling for the safer and more dependable companionship of a pet.

Though we are just at the advent of the virtual and cybersex, the prevalence of erotica and porn is beginning to show a noticeable reduction in live body to body sexual intercourse and physical intimacy. In some cases, nations such as Japan, are reporting an alarming decrease in sexual relations and pregnancies.

Data is suggesting that face-to-face and body-to-body human communication and intimate contact are being replaced rather than augmented by computers, pets, AI and virtual reality. In modern and relatively affluent societies divorce rates continue to remain elevated, while birth rates, physical relationships and frequency of sexual intercourse are in the decline.

The day in which we can fully interact with AI based robots with human personalities and sensorial/sexual capabilities is fast approaching. Our current love affair with interacting with personal assistant software such as Siri and Alexa is in its infancy. Soon robots will be as attending, helpful and supportive as Siri and as cute, affectionate and loyal as our most treasured and doting pets. In the not too distant future we will be able to create robots with a very human personality and body capable of not only conversing with us, but also being able to function as interactive and orgasmic sex partners.

While we are decades away from ascertaining how far robots will be able to grow and develop in terms of making decisions and choices, and replicating an emotional realm suggesting sentient experience, we will quite quickly have robots which we can program to respond to us in a way which mocks a relationship challenging us mentally while responding and interacting with us physically and sexually.

It wasn’t that long ago when the thought of letting a pet live in the house with you full time was thought of as odd at best. Now pets often are one’s favorite companion sharing our bed, accompanying us on all outings and journeys, and even the one with whom we most frequently talk to and have the most physical contact.

Years ago a person who preferred to write a friend a letter than talk with them in person would have been considered rather strange and inhuman. As technology advanced direct communication was almost always valued over indirect communication, with face-to-face and physical contact always the ideal. Devices of long distance communication were always viewed as a cherished but poor replacement for time spent in person.

Yet, over the last decade distant and virtual communication have in many cases become the preferred mode of communication. It is now common for people to be more attentive and emotionally invested to their screens than those who they are sitting next to or with whom they are intermittently interacting. Even when the screen is being used for checking data and information, or in anonymous communication, it often supersedes the attention of friends and even partners who are in close proximity.

Pets and advanced technology such as virtual reality are very seductive in the level to which we can be in control of the interaction (relationship) letting us be free and connected at the same time. There is an ease of intimacy with technology and pets that cannot be duplicated with humans. Human relationships are very complicated and the needs and preferences of the other are near impossible to ignore. While over 50% of marriages end in divorce, seldom to relationships with pets or technology end due to irreconcilable differences.

Petophiles (pet owners) often ascribe to their pets a host of human qualities. Each pet they own has a slightly different personality and temperament, and a host of idiosyncrasies and preferences which add a richness to the relationship making it far more than just a living possession. It is those human qualities which make the relationships so unique and rewarding and gives their journey together a sense of meaning and significance.

The average person is greatly underestimating the degree to which robots will be able to be individualized and unique. Robots will have personalities, develop a sense a humor, be thoughtful and endearing and be a joy to be around. Breeding and training domesticated animals helps mold their personalities into being more cute and lovable, likewise programming and AI features will go a long way into having robots become more desirable and seductive to people. Each generation of robots will be more self-teaching and developing and less dependent on and loyal to their initial programming.

One would still be able to program a robot to provide the desired amount of conflict, devotion, challenge, and variation one desires in the relationship. Robot owners would still be able to have them reprogrammed or modified if they stray too far from one’s goals and intentions. If one’s relationship with their robot had a sexual dimension one could program their sexbot to have a similar appetite as themselves. It is totally within the realm of possibilities that one could model their robot on their current or past partner allowing them to interact with the robot at times and in ways in which their partner is not available.

I, myself, have always been enthralled with human intimacy. While I use modern technology I have generally refrained from using it as a replacement for human contact and communication. While having and enjoying pets, I have always preferred, sought, and relied on human relationships over that of furry ones.

Any objective review of the expanding roles that pets and technology are playing in human experience would lead one to conclude that robot companions will become the friend of choice for a growing segment of the population. Just as domesticated animals have come in from the cold and quite quickly carved out a privileged role in the heart and lives of millions of individuals, so too it seems inevitable that robots and sexbots will climb into our beds and hearts with equal comfort and ease.

Jim Guido

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