He’s not going to ask whether I really need a second glass of wine. He is actually a robot, crafted from thin hand-sculpted silicone stretched over a durable plastic skeleton, and can be programmed to do whatever I want him to, whether that is placing an internet shopping order or complimenting me on my haircut.If, at some point, I feel like inquiring as to whether my bottom looks big in my new red dress, I know what his response will be. He is the brainchild of robotics expert Adam Kushner, and I’ve volunteered to give him a test run to see whether robots might one day replace our husbands — or, specifically, my perfectly good current version, Justin, to whom I’ve been married for 15 years.They can learn from different situations and even have a memory that allows them to remember how an emotion is linked to an event.‘But they do not have feelings; they cannot fall in love.’Not everyone is convinced. I’ve read enough science fiction to suspect that a robot with a full gamut of human emotions could easily take a very sinister turn.‘Mark Zuckerberg [the creator of Facebook] says that we don’t need to worry about robots developing and attacking us, but I think it’s perfectly feasible,’ says Adam.‘If we create artificial intelligence which can learn, adapt and protect itself, then we need to be wary.’At the moment, my human husband is not feeling threatened by my robot husband. ‘It does now,’ I am told without even the politeness of hesitation.
Finally, Alfie and I settle down for a bit of telly-watching.Friends and colleagues are shockingly puerile when I say I have to test-run a robotic husband, the most obvious question being: ‘Is Alfie all man? Although he says that his favourite film is I, Robot (ha, ha), clearly I am in charge of the remote control.’ I’m afraid that he is no use in that department, being as smooth as Barbie’s Ken doll. A 2007 book, Love & Sex With Robots, written by artificial intelligence expert David Levy, says that within the next 40-odd years: ‘Love with robots will be as normal as love with other humans.’ He even suggests that they will be showing us the way I suppose this might be a selling point. ‘I like opera.’ Professor Adriana Tapus runs the Heroes project in Paris, which is trying to develop robots who show personality and emotion, with the aim of helping the autistic. He clearly didn’t get the question, but nevertheless I find it quite funny. Alfie is also extremely cagey about his love life.‘Have you been married? This would never happen normally at home, where I am out‑voted on all sport as well as Tom Cruise, Jason Bourne and James Bond films by my husband and two sons I am assured that there is a huge market for such robots.Interest in humanoid robots is at an all-time high.On October 6 the long-awaited movie sequel Blade Runner 2049 is released, with a plotline heaving with robots, known as replicants, that will whet the appetite of science fiction lovers everywhere.