In 2025, our lovers will be robots

A new Pew Report examines the world in the near future. It'll be one in which robots aren't confined to machine-like tasks.

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Ladies and gentlemen, meet your sexbot. College Humor/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Human relationships have had their day.

They have enjoyed all the excellence of wine-in-a-box. Too often, what starts with a flame ends as soot.

So a new report from the Pew Research Center offers hope for humans in search of true and abiding love.

For in "AI, Robotics And The Future Of Jobs" (PDF), one of the experts surveyed predicts that, in 2025, many of us will have robot lovers. No, not those who are human and merely go through the motions because they have a ring on their finger and a joint bank account.

No, these will be actual robots that will know our every need and minister to it accordingly.

The report, released last week, canvassed the views of experts. As we know with experts, they are always right. Especially in their own minds. So this is as sure a picture as we can have of our loving and lovable future.

Robots will, it seems, threaten current jobs more than ever. These won't merely be jobs that require automation. These will be jobs of the white-collar variety, those that involve a touch of politics, as well as a heap of patience.

Almost half the experts believe that the advance of robot deployment will mean the advance of human unemployment. They fear greater income inequality, and even heightened social disorder.

Some differ. Salesforce's JP Rangaswami, for example, insists that: "The effects will be different in different economies (which themselves may look different from today's political boundaries). Driven by revolutions in education and in technology, the very nature of work will have changed radically--but only in economies that have chosen to invest in education, technology,and related infrastructure."

Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft's principal researcher, believes technology has always been a net jobs creator. He said: "Although there have always been unemployed people, when we reached a few billion people there were billions of jobs. There is no shortage of things that need to be done and that will not change

But let's be optimistic. There will be vast numbers of people with little to do. They will need far more love -- or, at least, lovin' -- than ever before.

That's where, one expert surveyed for the report suggests, robots may be a salvation. Stowe Boyd, lead researcher for GigaOM Research, predicts: "Robotic sex partners will become commonplace, although the source of scorn and division, the way that critics today bemoan selfies as an indicator of all that's wrong with the world."

Will there be scorn and division? Or will there be blessed relief at the simplicity of it all? The robot will never stand you up, always listen to everything you say without even a whisper of disagreement, and will happily turn over and go to sleep if you happen not to be in the mood.

Moreover, if you have managed to cash out of the IPO of a thoroughly useless startup, you'll still have the money for a couples date.

Each of you can bring your own robot. Think of how much cheaper this will be. The robots don't need to nibble on so much as a kale salad and a piece of boiled celery root.

Of course some might mock at first. But these will be people who are still struggling with the notion that the halfwit they married turned out to be a quarterwit.

Moreover, just last year, 9 percent of people expressed their cheeriness at the idea of robot sex. That's surely more than want to wear Google Glass.

Ultimately, we have no idea what our roboticized world will look like. What joy, though, if our sudden roboticization of the world coincides precisely with our natural efforts to destroy it.

How poignant it would be if it were the robots who managed to actually save us from our worst habits.

 

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