Samantha sits upright on a table and awaits your every command with eager, penetrating eyes. Her makers are a husband and wife team, and they're preparing to ship her to Australia. Once she arrives at her destination, Samantha's unique artificial intelligence capabilities will be employed to service clients in a brothel. Thus begins "Sex Robots and Us", a frank and occasionally explicit look inside an underground industry that's quickly hurtling towards the mainstream.
Sex dolls are nothing new, but they've become more sophisticated than ever before. Silicone surfacing makes them feel more human to the touch, their animatronic reflexes are spookily accurate, and their level of interaction has been enhanced exponentially. They've also grown in popularity and acceptance by societies that are increasingly detached and isolated from person-to-person contact.
While male dolls do exist, they remain an extremely limited niche. Female models continue to dominate the industry by a wide margin.
What could this mean for the future of healthy relationships? How is this redefining societal views on sex and desire in the 21st century? Do these robots satisfy a basic human need or intensify the development of sexual dysfunction and deviancy?
These troubling questions emerge throughout the film as the cameras capture burgeoning sex enterprises in Spain, London and Japan. Defenders of the technology herald its therapeutic applications while detractors fret over the normalization of sex on demand without consent.
What ultimately emerges from the investigation is a larger issue that transcends mere sexual gratification. What happens when the technology becomes so advanced that the robots become indistinguishable from their human counterparts? At that stage, how will we define what it means to be human? Innovators in Japan proudly show off their latest robotic model, a beautiful life-like doll infused with cutting-edge AI. Her programming has been tailored to mimic human desire. In this respect, she represents an essential step for the robot race as she displays a capacity for self-awareness.
The wheels of technological progress keep turning, but the future they're creating might have severe ramifications for humankind. "Sex Robots and Us" is a fascinating expose that will prove titillating to some and terrifying to others.
Directed by: Jon Eastman