Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood on ‘Prostibots,’ Remote Sex and the Robotic Age

The Canadian novelist’s musings about sex and robots in The New York Times.

Margaret Atwood

Of course, when we heard about Margaret Atwood’s essay on the future of robots, our ears perked up considerably at Future of Sex. We had to read it.

To our great delight, the 2,000-word piece published in The New York Times last month covered not only human fascination with creating non-biological beings to serve us—and not just insights into their place in the coming years. Atwood also delved into the racy use of robotics to indulge sexual desires.

In the op-ed, she called out humans on our readiness to “always push the envelope.” From the times of Hephaestus’s artificial maidens and Pygmalion’s sculpture, to the recent era with tales like The Stepford Wives and Her, she says, we’ve been crafting stories about molding idyllic partners.

Moving beyond fictional media, Atwood also points to the very real longings for robot sex workers in our technologically hyped up world:

Even further out toward the edge, people are dreaming up robotic prostitutes, complete with sanitary self-flushing features. Will there be a voice feature, and, if so, what will it say?

Atwood’s essay, with its funny wit and clever take on the potential fate of both robots and humankind, is definitely worth reading in its entirety. She explores many of the topics we cover at Future of Sex, including the “prostibot,” teledildonics, and—on the tamer end—the Kissenger kissing device.

And it’s full of interest-piquing details. I had no idea Atwood helped create the LongPen—a remote writing device used for signing legal and business documents. But she originally conceived of using it for long-distance book signings.

The opinion piece is part of the newspaper’s year-end series called “Turning Points.” In it, influential people like Magaret Atwood, Julian Assange, and Tony Blair examine pivotal moments from last year posed to affect life in 2015.

Spurring Atwood’s article was the launch of the world’s largest civilian robotics program in June 2014. The SPARC initiative, formed by the European Union and 180 companies and research organizations, plans to boost Europe’s share of the global robotics market in 2020 to 42%, an estimated €60 billion. In 2014, it had 35% with €22 billion.

Featured image source/Copyright: Das Blaue Sofa / Club Bertelsmann