Robot Boyfriend

Design by Coral Utnehmer

Image Description: Close-up lineart drawing of a male butt in orange with “Hello World!” tattooed on it in black ink on a bright purple background.

Day 1:

I am making headway in Project Hancock. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep it a secret from all of my friends. A few of the boys in my CS class have offered to help me with this problem set, but I can’t tell them that I’m actually quite good at object oriented programming, and I’m falling behind in class because I’m dedicating all my free time to building a robot boyfriend.

Day 10:

I should probably start with an explanation of sorts. I am very forgetful, so I have been trying to better document my work in this journal so I can look back at my progress when I am done. No one will read this but me, if all goes according to plan. Anyways, my proposal is as follows:

We are living in a time of increasingly complex and satisfying sex toys, and are undoubtably approaching an era of ex-machina type sex dolls. However, there is no market or research into creating a robot partner without the purpose of sex. I intend to create the first asexual robot partner with the benefits of a boyfriend but without the hassle of interacting with real men. 

So far it’s going fairly well. I have written most of the AI but I’ve been running this Raspberry Pi ragged and might need to change my approach. I’ve also started looking at mechanical hardware for the inside of his body on eBay. I can’t wait to test him out! 

Day 20:

I guess I should explain what I want his personality to be like. I am basing it on some of my favorite characters, for example Duckie from Pretty in Pink, and Boyle from Brooklyn 99. Additionally, I am collecting textual data from some of my most scarring text interactions with my exes so I can make my new robot boyfriend say what I wish they had said.

Day 35:

It turns out giving a human-sized robot realistic knee movements is really hard. I have enlisted the help of some of my friends in robotics. I told them I am working on a prosthetics project in honor of my ex-boyfriend who lost a leg in a tragic helicopter accident. Obviously that was untrue, but they were too absorbed in telling me everything that was wrong about my construction to notice. Note: Improve robot boyfriend’s tone analysis. 

Day 72:

I asked one of my acquaintances in the materials science lab if she could help me get realistic skin material. When she asked me why, I panicked and said I wanted to become a tattoo artist. Unfortunately, now she thinks I am cool. She is going to be super disappointed when she finds out that I’m building a robot boyfriend.

Day 90:

It feels like I have been working on this forever! I recently gave my robot boyfriend the ability to hug, which is very nice. It’s going to be even better when I put skin on his hands; right now it feels like holding hands with a kitchen appliance. I am also giving his arms a heating pad-like exterior. Winter is approaching, and as an anemic scientist, I need my robot boyfriend to have substantial body heat.

Day 140:

I am making my little sister text my robot boyfriend. I told her that English isn’t his first language, and she’s 10, so hopefully not perceptive enough to realize that this is a robot. I decided he needs more real human connections besides me. So far, so good, except she is teaching him how to use emojis. Note: Disable emoji usage later.

Day 154:

First Major Issue! It’s been going almost too smoothly, and I knew something would happen sooner or later. My friend Jake came over to watch Terminator 2 (don’t know why he wanted to watch that with me but whatever, no judgment). It was actually a pretty good time until he saw a leg peeking out of the closet. I panicked again and told him I bought a sex doll because I wanted to practice tattooing. He said, “damn, you’re real freaky for that one.” He left pretty soon after that and then I watched some tutorials on stick and pokes so that I would be more prepared next time I had to lie.

Day 180: 

Robot Boyfriend is up and running! His name is Wallace (we chose it together) and he is wonderful. His face reminds me of a baby deer, with freckles and big brown eyes that are slightly too far apart. He laughs at all my jokes but not too hard, and his favorite movie is Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. I bought a tattoo gun and have given us matching heart tattoos. I also tattooed “Hello, World!” on his butt…

Day 201:

I have been applying for internships and Wallace has been nothing but supportive. I am taking us out on a real date this weekend! I have never been so grateful for cold weather and face masks, no one will be able to tell he isn’t human. His face looks almost perfect if you don’t look too closely at the seams around his mouth.

My friends have noticed that I’ve been happier lately. They asked if I’m seeing anyone, and I laughed and said, “you know me!” I then diverted the attention to my best friend’s love life, and, it turns out, her boyfriend is both unattractive and unpleasant to be around. If only she knew there were better options than human men.

Day 205:

Wallace and I had a good time on our date! We went to the mall and he enjoyed all of the new sensory information. Unfortunately, when we went to the Apple Store, he asked me if I would rather be with one of the men at the “Genius Bar” because his IQ was below that of a genius. I had to explain to him that it was only a figure of speech, they weren’t actually geniuses.

Day 210: I went back to skin-girl from materials science to ask if she had any more skin. Wallace thinks his hello world tattoo is demeaning. I thought it was kind of hot, aesthetically.

Day 245:

Wallace and I got in our first fight. I got an offer for a paid internship at Google, but he disagrees with their labor practices. I told him I need money to update his hardware. He said I should love him as he is now. I said he should be more supportive of my career. It was a whole “thing.” He is sleeping on the couch tonight. 

Day 250:

Wallace announced he is pansexual. I have been doing tattoos on the side to make money. 

Day 298:

I turned down the internship. Wallace did not hide his satisfaction. 

Day 304:

Wallace told me I look “put together” today and asked who I need to dress up for. I said “fuck off” and he did not like that.

Day 327:

I went out to dinner with my friends and when I got back Wallace had made a Linkedin. 

Day 365: 

Wallace and I decided we should see other people. I am trying to decide if I should release him into the world, send him to a lab, destroy him, or build him a robot partner. I have no ill will towards him. It just didn’t work out. 

Day 366:

I got extremely drunk and told Wallace he is free to leave. I wrote him a manual (about himself) and gave him enough money to live on for two months. 

Day 367:

I downloaded tinder. 

Day 368:

I deleted tinder. 

Day 369:

Skin-girl came over (her name is Cassandra) and I confessed that I used the skin to make a robot boyfriend, but I also learned how to tattoo, so technically I wasn’t lying. She admitted that she started making skin when she tried to make a robot girlfriend, but gave up when her girlfriend got too into “smoking weed,” which was weird because she didn’t have lungs. Cassandra decided the project was a failure and disassembled her. 

Day 430:

Cassandra and I decided to do a research presentation about our work in building AI partners. She is really good at hardware and I can handle the software. I am optimistic.

Day 5678:

It’s been a while hasn’t it. Today Cassandra and I sat in the front row as Wallace Hancock gave his first TedTalk about dating in the digital age. It was really good.

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