Full-sized dolls molded on real women have the Mzansi adult industry aflutter

“It is engineered in such a way that it is going to learn from the different interactions that it has,” he said, outlining the fact that each person will have a different version of the doll depending on how one sets up its customisable personality and how one engages with it from that point.

“People have asked me if I’m asking the dolls to replace women and that has really never even been on the radar. It’s an alternative form of relationship, that’s all.”

As much of a focus as personality is, the sex dolls of the future are still going to have enough sex gadgetry on them to make that old blowup doll in your cupboard look like a telegram machine.

It is expected that in the very near future – think before the next Olympics – animatronic sex toys will be equipped with self-lubricating vaginas, heat and touch sensors and all manner of doohickeys to make the sensation as real as possible.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The Harmonys and Tiffanys of the world may only be approximations of real women, but their arrival has stirred up a number of serious questions about their potential effects on the lives of real women.

Dr Kathleen Richardson, a senior research fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montford University in the UK, is concerned that the increased sophistication of robots that are essentially non-human sex slaves could have dangerous side-effects for our value systems.

In an article in the London Telegraph she said: “If you didn’t have prostitution, you couldn’t have the idea of a sex robot or a sex doll. They are an outcome of a way of reflecting on a human person as if they were a thing.”

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