China’s next-generation AI sex robots are coming

PornJoy Chinese sex robot

The South China Post reported today that the next generation of AI sex robots are set to hit the shelves soon. The article there is behind a paywall, but is available to read for free at sister site the Bangkok Post. It’s actually a very interesting read, as it takes auite a detailed look at the limitations of current AI sex robots (or rather ‘smart sex dolls’) and the remaining hurdles to building genuine interactive sex robots. It also mentions the three major companies competing to be the first to provide horny Chinese men with real sex robots, although it focuses on one company in particular – Starpery Technology.

For several years there have been ‘smart’ sex dolls available to buy in China. These usually are capable of speaking a limited number of canned phrases, or making moaning noises. The promised ‘next-generation’ appear to be a lot more advanced and exciting.

In Shenzhen, Starpery Technology, a major producer of sex dolls, is now training its own large language model to enhance its product with AI. These sex dolls with unprecedented capabilities – available in male or female forms – will soon be hitting the shelves.

“We are developing a next-generation sex doll that can interact vocally and physically with users, with prototypes expected by August this year,” CEO Evan Lee said early this month.

“The new generation of sex dolls, powered by AI models and equipped with sensors, can react with both movements and speech, significantly enhancing user experience by focusing on emotional connection rather than just basic conversational abilities,” Lee said.

Chinese companies have been working on true interactive sex robots for some time, as this 2022 glimpse inside a Chinese sex doll factory shows. With the advent of ChatGPT and the rapid advancement of AI chat companions, it is clearly the physical movement side of things that is the great remaining hurdle.

Very much unlike the leading US companies trying to build humanoid robots, such as Tesla, the Chinese companies trying to make these robots for factories or to care for the elderly, are the same companies that are trying to build sex robots. And the challenges of building a humanoid robot are the same, whatever use it is intended for.

To achieve this level of development, there are two main challenges: battery capacity and artificial muscles, Lee said.

Firstly, unlike electric vehicles (EVs), humanoid robots lack space for large batteries, so for them to operate independently the energy density of batteries must improve. Secondly, current engines lack the flexibility of human muscles, which can exert force over a wide range and can be both hard and soft, fitting closely to the skin, according to Lee.

Currently, to ensure realism the dolls can often weigh up to 40 kilogrammes (88 pounds), which is too heavy for the motor and poses a risk of falling or hurting the user.

“Therefore in the first stage, we focused on reducing the weight through improvements in materials and production processes,” Lee said. By July 2023, their 172-centimetre-tall doll weighed just 29kg.

In addition to technical difficulties, Starpery also faces cost and ethics challenges.

Reducers – which transfer power between the motor and the robot joints – are key components in the mechanical system of humanoid robots. They generally account for 30% of the robot’s cost and might need multiple gears at different joints.

“We strive to decrease the cost so that more people can afford realistic dolls, while adding motors will increase the cost [to] some extent,” Lee said.

The article mentions that more sex dolls are sold in China, than in Japan, the USA, and Europe combined. China is also the largest sex toy market in general, and 70% of all sex toys in the world are manufactured there. It’s an interesting question as to why realistic sex dolls, overwhelmingly bought by men, and soon interactive sex robots, are so tolerated in China, when even the downloading of porn can lead to prison time.

There is a huge gender imbalance in China, leading to millions of lonely and sexually disaffected young men that could potentially be a destabilizing factor in the Conservative and strictly regulated society. Could it be that (contrary to the anti-porn argument in the West) the Chinese government consider porn to simply stimulate sexual desire and feed frustration, whereas realistic sex dolls, and sex robots, are seen as providing men with a real substitute to women, and thus condoned?

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About xhumanist

Xhumanist has been writing on porn/sex tech for nearly two decades, and has been predicting the rise of VR and AR porn, as well as AI porn, and their coming together to produce fully 'immersive porn', which would be indistinguishable from the real thing, and create a society of 'sexual abundance'. He identifies as a digisexual, and has been quoted in Wired Magazine.

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