I had a C.S. Lewis moment earlier this evening when I came across this story on Yahoo.com. “Sex Robot Focuses on Appealing to the Mind” runs the headline. This is what they used to say about Playboy magazine; men used to pretend they read it “for the interviews.” Certainly the thought of discussing trade policy with a sex robot is not without a certain appeal, but that doesn’t seem to be what the robot’s inventor has in mind. “At a demonstration at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas on Saturday, the dark-haired, negligee-clad robot said “I love holding hands with you” when it sensed that its creator touched its hand,” says the AP story. It is a long way from “I want to hold your hand” to cozy little chats about neo-Thomist philosophy, but first things first, I suppose.Those of you who know your C.S. Lewis space fiction trilogy will have heard about sex robots before. In That Hideous Strength, the third book of the trilogy, Ransom tells Merlin about the people on the bad side of the Moon:
“There dwell an accursed people, full of pride and lust. There when a young man takes a maiden in marriage, they do not lie together, but each lies with a cunningly fashioned image of the other, made to move and to be warm by devilish arts, for real flesh will not please them, they are so dainty (delicati) in their dreams of lust. Their real children they fabricate by vile arts in a secret place” (Scribner Paperback edition, page 271).Soon you will be able to choose appropriate personalities for your robot, inventor Douglas Hines happily predicts. Choices will range from “Wild Wendy” to “Frigid Farrah.” (“Feminist Fran” doesn’t appear to be a priority.) A 2007 UK book, Love and Sex with Robots argues, the AP tells us, “that robots will become significant sexual partners for humans, answering needs that other people are unable or unwilling to satisfy.”Lewis is looking more prophetic every day.