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Twenty years ago, if you would have said that there would be people out there who have robotic girlfriends or digital girls, most people would have laughed. However, nobody's laughing today. The demand for robotic lovers is growing - and companies are legitimately working to give people the robo-lovers they want.
For quite some time, the RealDoll community has been having sex with lifelike dolls in the shape of human women and men. Lately, the company behind the dolls started to offer dolls that have real personalities and voice boxes.
In 2016, a group of Chinese scientists created an incredibly lifelike robot that acts as a girlfriend and companion. Her name is Jia Jia, she follows orders, and even has human-like facial expressions.
Meanwhile, Japanese companies came up with a different cybergirl that lonely guys can talk to earlier in 2017. Hikari, as she's called, "lives" in a little jar and is programmed to understand basic commands. She's basically become the Japanese version of Amazon Echo - and scientists are working to make it possible for Hikari to have real conversations.
The bottom line is that robotic companions are here, and they're getting very human-like in their interaction. But, before these bots ever made it to store shelves, there were some sci-fi writers who saw it happening. If you've ever read any of these books, you totally understand why some people might have gotten so into the idea...
Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov
This book is one of two prequels to Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and follows the brilliant psychohistorian Hari Seldon in his older age. Seldon, who uses his unique brand of science to figure out what happens in the future, has a gorgeous yet enigmatic wife by the name of Dors.
Jarring as it may be to imagine, it's openly acknowledged in the book that Dors isn't human. Rather, she's a robot. Many readers have wondered if Asimov himself didn't want a wife like Dors, considering how often he fantasized about people falling for robots in his many novels.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
This novel follows human bounty hunter Rick Deckard, a man who was given the task to "forcefully retire" androids that have gone rogue. Things begin to unravel for Deckard once he falls in love with a very human-like android by the name of Rachael... and once the question arises about his own humanity as well.
This book raised a very good question that will likely be hotly debated as future years unfold. At what point does a sentient robot become human, and at what point will a technologically enhanced human start being a robot?
He, She, And It by Marge Piercey
He, She And It is a story that revolves around a human woman who falls in love with a cyborg whose primary job is to protect her and her village from corporate raiders. In this post-apocalyptic society, women have to be strong and men often are not to be trusted.
As a novel that really raises a bunch of questions about gender roles, love, and economics, this post-apocalyptic book definitely deserves more recognition than it's gotten. That being said, He, She And It did win an Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction in the UK - and it definitely earned that award.
Idoru by William Gibson
Idoru, which translates into "idol," is an artificially intelligent entity that uses holograms to interact with humanity around it. As a synthetic human, idoru Rei Toei catches the eye of human rockstar Rez... who promptly falls in love with it.
Rez's obsession with Rei gets more and more intense until he tries to marry her - much to the chagrin and concern of his handlers. In this futuristic Japanese society, marrying an AI bot is illegal. Stranger still, the idoru isn't physically capable of having sex.
Idoru makes you wonder what would happen if someone legitimately had a romantic, non-sexual relationship with a pleasurebot - and also makes you realize it's probably going to happen pretty soon.
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
When an android by the name of Finn first moves into 5-year-old Kat's house, he was supposed to act as her tutor. By the time she's a young adult, he becomes her lover. Though he is in love with her, she doesn't believe he's capable of those feelings and regularly questions her motives.
In terms of realism, it's hard to beat The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. After all, when this begins to happen in real life, people are going to obviously understand AI as being incapable of love.
This surprisingly honest take on robot-human love will definitely rock you to the core with its achingly personal perspective on love in the future.
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a novel that has a ship mechanic fall in love with the artificially sentient ship - much like that one episode of Futurama with Bender and the Planet Express ship.
Much of the novel discusses Jenks's worry about decanting the personality of his ship, Lovey, into a human body. Chambers manages to eloquently ask whether humans and AI can really fall in love - and whether there ever really will be a point at which artificial intelligence can ever be considered a "real" personality.
Expect to shed a couple of tears by the end of this novel; this couple will break your heart.
Saturn's Children by Charles Stross
While some of these novels may just strongly insinuate that sex between humans and robots happen, this book is very blunt about it. After all, its main character, Freya, is a robotic courtesan.
After humanity got mysteriously wiped out, Freya lost her ability to make money the "old fashioned way" and joined a courier route. Unfortunately for her, she uncovered a major conspiracy involving the enslavement of android society.
The book follows a very human-like Freya as she tries to cope with the perils that lie ahead and her grief over the end of humanity. If you've ever wondered how robots would handle the end of humanity, this gives you a great idea on what they'll be like when it happens.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
I, Robot was a game-changer when it was first published in 1950, and is one of the very few novels that actually made a direct impact on computer science today. The novel's "3 Laws of Robotics" are still generally adhered to today when programming artificial intelligence.
Between the human-like robots that you see in this movie and the interactions people have with them, it's easy to see where many of Asimov's ideas for later robot-human relationships may have stemmed from.