Popular fiction has typecast its robots. Either as terrifying (Terminator) or cute (Star Wars).
This reminds me of the roles that African Americans or Native Americans were stuck with in the early days of both movies and television. They had to be either threatening or "tame."
Asimov was one of the few who wrote robots who had more depth of character.
My own writing attempts to do the same. I try to write from a post-stereotyped future. A future where robots are accepted as part of the social environment, just as racial minorities are -- in the enlightened parts of the world.
I depict a robot-adapted culture in the same sense I try to depict a culture that is past the gender wars that give us so much guilty pleasure. I try to point out the backwardness of the current age by invoking the details of a more socially advanced culture.
I admit that sometimes I have to lean on it heavily -- to get you to see it.
If you are offended, by these plausible futures, that may show that you're locked into your ancestors' ideas. Your grandchildren may get the point.
Stories in modern fiction that have their settings in the past, from novels to TV series, almost always shows the "hero" characters as having improbably enlightened views. These views are directly or indirectly compared to the backward attitudes of the other characters, or in contrast to the prejudicial attitudes of the era being depicted. The leading characters, the ones we identify with, are very liberal with regard to race, gender, nationality and so on. But such views would have been unlikely in the time depicted. And highly unpopular.
My point here is that these fictional situations are scripted in a very self-congratulatory way. It serves to give the modern reader or viewer a sense of smug superiority.
We are patting ourselves on the back for being wiser than the backward inhabitants of the fictional pasts that surround the point of view characters.
Real history is characterized by casual brutality toward minorities. Levels of bigotry that were tacitly accepted as the way things are and the way they ought to be.
Those people, in those times, had a ways to go.
We still have a ways to go. We still indulge in casual brutalities. They are so accepted as to be nearly invisible.
There remain minorities that we brutalize. Part of this has to do with the other minorities that get the opposite treatment. The accepted attitude that "we" are better than "them." The assumed superiority is not discussed because everybody should know that it's true. And if you question it in ordinary conversation, or in a classroom, you have committed a grave social error. Political correctness differs with the era. The "others" are generally demonized, Because, of course, they are the cause of our problems. By contrast "we" are sanctified, we have the solution to the same problems -- if only those others could be brought under our control.
We are qualified to control those others. Who says so? We do, of course.
How rude of you even to ask.
In my own science fiction I posit societies that have moved past at least one such polarization. So my stories include social progress, not just technical progress. These happen in societies just past ours and just emerging from the gender wars.
To be specific, my stories are set in times when the political correctness movement has acquired some historical perspective. This means that the the characters have moved beyond the current neo-Victorian rules about not offending the ladies.
My "ladies," such as they are, are past that. So are the men. They have all been educated past one particular casual brutality. I posit a time in the future when anger-against-men industry has largely faded away There's a new partnership between men and women. To be sure, some of my stories are directly about the difficulties in getting to that partnership: It's not an easy path -- but that makes the story.
These tales may be shocking and offensive for a couple of decades -- but with time they be self-evident and even quaint. Until then these narratives may seem to describe dystopias.
Make it easy on yourself. Don't try to share any of this with anyone who isn't part way there already. Nevertheless some of them will be offended, appalled, horrified, and furious... and it will be your fault.
You don't need any more casual brutality. You don't need to cause it. Above all, you don't need to experience it.
The sex doll is evolving rapidly.
If you want to track the progress in this field, one point of entry, so to speak, is "soft robotics."
You might set up a Google Alert for anything on the topic.
One reason for soft robotics is protecting people where the robots literally come into contact with them. Asimov's first law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
The patents that Disney has recently applied for seem to cover theme park characters, which are entirely likely to bump into people, however unintentionally. Think of self driving cars with very forgiving collision systems.
Here too, as with robotic sex partners, cleaning will be critical. The customer contact surfaces will be thoroughly disinfectable or disposable. Kids will touch the robotic characters, likely spreading the usual kid germs.
The current justification for the development of soft robotics is not harming any (other) fragile and hard- to- handle objects. Earliest uses will probably be in industrial situations where adaptive gripping has to be gentle.
That's the way to touch people.
I'm just barely ahead of the curve:
Prospect of sexual relationships with robots poses moral dilemmas.
The problem with writing near-future science fiction is that in a blink it can turn into history.
If this is a revolution the rallying cry is not "To the barricades, comrades."
Instead it is "To the brothels. comrades."
Adam likes the company of small domestic animals and 82% of women. Enjoys long walks in the rain (in the Pacific Northwest, he'd better).