In the next half of this century, humans will be regularly engaging in sexual activity with robots, and maybe even falling in love with them, according to Helen Driscoll, a psychologist who specialises in sex and mate choices at the University of Sunderland in the UK.
Her comments came while discussing the technological advances that are making sex dolls more interactive than ever before, and they present a future eerily similar to that of the Joaquin Phoenix film Her, where the main character falls in love with an operating system on his computer (voiced by Scarlett Johansson no less, who could blame him?)
"As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner; it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being," Driscoll told David Watkinson from the Daily Mirror.
And while that may sound kinda out there, it's already happening. Porn companies are beginning to splurge on making virtual reality porn, which is filmed from the actor's point of view and allows viewers to use a virtual reality headset, such as Google cardboard or an Oculus Rift, to explore and look around the movie, making them feel as though they're really there.
"You can enjoy a totally new perception of adult content, more immersive and deep … and it gets closer to a real experience," Linda Wells, who works with company VirtualRealPorn, told News.com.au.
VirtualRealPorn is also taking things to the next level by partnering with sex toy company Lovsense. The idea is that someone will be able to get 'intimate' with one of these sex toys (vibrators for women, Fleshlight-type toys for men) and it'll be programmed to activate in response to the virtual reality porn they're watching - basically simulating sex.
And although that might sound incredibly creepy to you right now, Driscoll believes that the onslaught of technology over the coming decades will make the behaviour increasingly mainstream.
"We tend to think about issues such as virtual reality and robotic sex within the context of current norms," she told Watkinson. "But if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically."
In fact, she thinks it's not that much of a stretch from many of today's online relationships, which are often conducted without the couple meeting face to face.
"We should not automatically assume that virtual relationships have less value than real relationships. The fact is, people already fall in love with fictional characters though there is no chance to meet and interact with them," Driscoll explained. "And, as some people start to prefer technologically enhanced virtual sex to sex with humans, we may also see greater numbers of people living alone, spending more time in virtual reality."
That lack of human contact could be harmful for a lot of people, with loneliness linked to a whole range of physical and emotional problems. "But, in the long term, technology may overcome these problems," said Driscoll, referring to robots that look, feel, and act more like humans.
If there's one thing we humans are good at, it's coming up with clever new ways to get off, so we can't say we're too shocked by Driscoll's predictions. But while you're waiting for society to get on board with your AI love affair, enjoy watching these people try virtual reality porn for the first time. The future looks… bright?