In the 80s people used to think the future would be full of flying cars and sex robots, but no one knew anything back then. That’s why they voted for Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and wore horrendous jumpers. It was, in fact, so miserable that it inspired Ridley Scott to make Blade Runner, a dystopian sci-fi thriller about a world ruined by right-wing politics and overrun by sentient toasters.
The film is set in 2019, which in the 80s was inconceivably futuristic. So you can’t really blame Scott or the writer of his source material Philip K. Dick for assuming technology would progress further than it has. Blade Runner envisages highly sophisticated androids that are indistinguishable from human beings, but in 2017 all we have is primitive voice recognition devices that can change the temperature of your toilet seat and have touchscreen tablets delivered to your front door. It’s rubbish.
We don’t even have sex robots yet. There are these things called Flesh Lights, which are basically rubbery torches that gremlin-like people fuck, and for fans of the cock there is the standard amputated cyber shlong (otherwise known as a vibrator), but none of that can compare to the embrace of a synthetic being with lifelike skin that you can turn off after you’ve made it stink.
Perhaps the presence of sex robots is what makes Blade Runner such an iconic piece of sci-fi escapism. Although it is also an immersive, visual spectacle that offers neon cityscapes and hovering billboards that are bound to overload your senses. The first time I saw it I temporarily went blind. Some green text appeared on a black background before my vision was restored, and then when Harrison Ford got into a fight with a stripper bot my arms started flailing uncontrollably, as if a large portion of my brain had suddenly stopped working properly.
The film’s purpose is ultimately to question what it is that makes us human, and it does it so effectively that audiences now debate whether Harrison Ford is real or not. But given that Siri keeps showing me search results for ‘where can I find electrician work in Cheshire?’ whenever I ask it ‘why can I hear electrical whirring in my chest?’, I highly doubt the technology exists for him to be an actual robot.