Picture this: you've been searching and swiping through dating site after dating site, hoping to find a match.
You finally get a match, eagerly send her a "hey what's up" text, and ten seconds later you get a response!
You excitedly open the message, only to see "Hiii...I'm an instagram influencre and i want to promote your brand on my paage." It's followed by a link that clearly does not direct to anything similar to Instagram.
That's all that bots are to most of us: the obnoxious boner-killers on seemingly every dating site.
But some wonderful folks have found ways to use the bots for good instead of evil. They've designed chatbots who are interested in giving you the hottest and most realistic sexting experience possible.
So are sexting bots worth the hype, or are they just another moneymaking scheme?
We've done the research on sexting bots so that you don't have to--just read on and learn what you need to know.
Since the mid-twentieth century, people have been trying to create machines that can respond to language in a realistic, human-like manner.
In 1950, Alan Turing proposed a criterion for the intelligence of machines that now bears his name: the Turing test.
An artificial intelligence (AI) passes the Turing test if it can talk with a human so realistically that the human can't tell that it's not a real person.
The first machine to allegedly pass the Turing test was ELIZA, created by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966. Other bots, such as PARRY and Jabberwacky soon followed.
Even technology like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are really just bots, although you probably don't think of them that way. We tend not to put personal assistants in the same category as the annoying fake accounts on social media.
These bots help us with daily tasks like looking up information, scheduling appointments, and playing music. And the tech giants who design these bots have put thousands of hours of research into making the best possible personal assistant bots possible.
Chatbots have been used for a variety of purposes, many of which you probably see in your daily life.
When you call the bank or the pharmacy, does a real person pick up the phone right away? Probably not.
Instead, a machine answers the call and does its best to figure out how to help you. It'll redirect you to a live operator only if it can't understand what you're asking.
Aside from improving efficiency in refilling your prescriptions, bots are beginning to be used in more advanced contexts.
The AI Tess has been shown to help people struggling with depression and anxiety by offering similar skills as a trained therapist through automated chat sessions.
Bots like Tess can help people find healthy coping mechanisms for their mental illnesses, all from the comfort of their home.
And of course, people use new tech as a stand-in for the oldest profession. Sex bots have been around since someone figured out how to stick a computer in a sex doll.
But the 21st century has brought new developments that Turing couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams.
In 2017, botrotica debuted as part of an art exhibit. It would respond to sexy messages, request and offer feedback on images from its conversation partners, and would even send pictures if requested (of sexy robots, of course).
While botrotica was an inventive experiment, it was designed as just that--an experiment. It's not clear whether botrotica is still active, or whether it was simply a part of a cabaret.
More recently, a bot that's intended to be used over the long term emerged: Slutbot.
Slutbot is intended as a training tool to help people who want to start sexting but feel unsure or uncomfortable about trying it with a real person.
The system encourages people to discuss their fantasies, practice communicating, and set boundaries if their partner wants to do something they aren't comfortable with.
For example, if you call Slutbot by a nasty name that it doesn't like (like whore or bitch), it'll gently let you know that those names aren't really its thing. Then, it'll offer you some alternative fun nicknames.
This models for users what it looks like to have and enforce healthy limits without shutting down conversation altogether.
There are endless sites filled with more raunchy sexting bots, like the Personality Forge.
Your mileage may vary with the realism of these bots (don't expect any of them to pass the Turing test). But you can have fun sending them whatever explicit messages you want without worrying what a real human might think of them.
Virtual sex has plenty of advantages over the real deal: there's no risk of pregnancy or STIs, and you aren't limited by difficulties like disability.
Hundreds of veterans return to the US each year with injuries to their genitals. New technology in robotics and prosthetics can be critical to helping injured service members regain healthy sex lives.
Plus, some extreme kinksters find it hard to connect with partners who share their fetish. They can easily find robots who aren't bothered by anything their users throw at them.
There are ethical concerns, though. Some people sexualize bots that play unconsenting characters, like children or animals.
Some argue that allowing pedophiles to work out their urges on a robot might help stop them from preying on real children. Others argue that sexualizing childlike bots normalizes the behavior and may increase the chance that the pedophile might harm a real child.
As AI systems develop further and approach sentience, researchers in the field of the ethics of AI are asking questions about whether a computer can have rights.
If a human has bodily autonomy, the right to decide what happens to their body, could a sufficiently advanced robot have it, too? Could a robot ever have the ability to give or revoke consent?
Clearly, there are still a lot of gray areas, and we'll have to wait and see what the future of sexting bots holds.