In his slow-burning 2002 classic Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, the fabled Francis Fukuyama qualified his much-derided (but rarely closely read) ‘End of History’ thesis in one important respect: as long as ‘science’ (as conventionally understood) continued to advance, the ultimate endpoint of liberal democratic capitalism was not as fixed as he had first thought. In an age of cheap, advanced biotechnology, there appears to be little in theory to stop some humans conferring on both themselves and their offspring enormous genetic and other advantages – a few billion extra brain cells here, Herculean muscle strength there – with potentially alarming consequences for, amongst other things, political order.
However, with the advent of Roxxxy, the human species may well be taking giant strides into posthumanity far before the plumpest fruits of the biotechnological era ripen. A sex robot manufactured by New Jersey corporation TrueCompanion and priced at under US$10,000.00 (not including additional subscription fees), Roxxxy – a 170cm, 54kg doll whose name ironically echoes the classic Police ballad Roxanne – is said to have been based on a fine arts undergraduate, though many of her features – including hair colour, eye colour and skin colour – may be customised according to individual preference. Roxxxy’s personality and vocabulary can be augmented via Internet updates; she can even talk about football if so desired.
In some ways, the Eastern Seaboard e-Barbarella is still fairly primitive – she does not yet have the ability to move her limbs independently – but Roxxxy points to a trend which is clear: in the not-too-distant future, at least some human beings – particularly men – will have the option of conversing and copulating with ever-more realistic facsimiles.
This trend prompts Mediolana’s chief blogger to recall a conversation that he was privy to a few years ago: a well-off businessman was boasting about the virtues of his new wife. A recent immigrant from the former Eastern Bloc, there was nothing this young lady could not do: she prepared meals like a Michelin-starred chef, evoked the Kama Sutra in the bedroom and was competence itself at every task that she engaged in. There was just one small problem: she was being referred to in the same way that one talks about a marvellous new electrical appliance.