“If I had found the sex doll before I found my wife,” Sergi tells me, “maybe I would have never married.”

I’m not sure how to react. His wife, Maritsa, is also in the room, listening in. I suspect this isn’t the first time she’s heard this. I wonder how it makes her feel. Sergi continues, explaining that he has no interest in sexual contact with humans.

“It’s a hassle,” he says, “it’s too annoying.”

“I see,” I mumble, unsure how to respond. This won’t be the first time I’m a little lost for words.

“It’s selfish to have kids,” he lectures, “the world doesn’t need your child.” I nod along attentively. “I don’t want to follow Biology!” he proudly declares.

Sergi Santos has a Phd in Nanotechnology from the University of Leeds. He now lives, and works, in a home-cum-laboratory in Spain with his wife Maritsa. I’d first heard of Sergi and his creation when I read an article about the time he’d taken a doll to a tech fair where it was subsequently abused by the attendees.

When I ask him about this he chuckles. “This is an example of the perverted media,” he tells me.

The tech fair fiasco never happened. It was the creation of a journalist looking for a better story. Since then it has spread, unsurprisingly, around the internet. In fact, Sergi alerts me to a team of psychologists who wrote a paper speculating why people would want to rape a sex doll, all based on this fabricated story. To hammer home his point, he showed me the doll in question. “

Does this look raped to you?” he asked. It didn’t.

Sergi has accomplished an impressive feat of machine learning and engineering. Samantha understands around 600 words and phrases, comes fully equipped with touch sensors on all the important places, and changes her behaviour based on how you treat her. But Sergi knows he’s barely made a dent.

“What I’ve done is mediocre compared to what should be done,” he says.

“Do you think one day it’ll be possible to upload our consciousness to a robot?” I ask.

“I’d like that,” Sergi grins. His enthusiasm isn’t shared by his family. He recalls a dinner table conversation in which he told a family member that his body looked “very bad, very tired.” He hypothetically offered to upload them to a computer. At least I hope it was hypothetical. “They were horrified by the idea,” he lamented.

Sergi looks enthralled and excited at the prospect of becoming a robot. I’m not convinced. “Are you concerned about the implications for society?” I ask him.

“I have no concerns,” he replies, a little too quickly. He brings up the subject of Trump and “the North Korea guy”, telling me that those are the dangerous ones. “With Trump,” he remarks, “it doesn’t matter if you’re worried, he’ll do what he wants regardless.”

He then moves on to the troubling parts of society, like prostitution or poverty or scams. “Did you know that 95% of jobs don’t contribute to society?” I didn’t know that. The facts keep on coming.

“The people working at the electric company are giving the whole world headaches,” he says. I can’t help but feel slightly sceptical. Before I can respond, he moves on to dentists.

According to Sergi, when dentists tell you to open your mouth wide, it can cause chronic pain. “To be fair,” I interrupt, “dentists also make sure our teeth are healthy.”

“Ah,” he replies, “so you’re protecting the dentist. Well, I’m protecting the sex doll.”

These battle lines, the mindset that it’s Sergi and Samantha against the world, seem ingrained in his thinking. “I’m a simple target,” he says, referring to the hate he often receives online.

“We are bad for society. We dislike videos just because we like to inflict pain.” He talks about the media, and how in their gluttonous cravings for readers, page views, and profits they do a lot of damage to the sex industry, and to people like him.

This seems to weigh heavily on Sergi. His shoulders slump a little, his voice less enthused, more downbeat. This is a man who finds himself on the frontlines of a war he can’t win. And I think he knows that.

“I once kicked an Italian reporter out,” he says, adding “He took photos of some durex lubricant. You know the one?”

“I do,” I replied.

“Well, he started saying, ‘Oh look, you have sex with the doll!’ so I told him that if he puts his mother on the bed, I’ll make him a brother.”

This is fighting talk, for sure, but is it winning talk? I can’t help but feel Sergi is too defensive. “Tell me about the genomes,” I prompt, changing the subject.

The ‘genomes’ are essentially the building blocks of Samantha’s brain. Housed in a solitary processor, no bigger than the ones we carry around in our pockets, Samantha has several levels that she monitors. One level, for example, is patience. The less you interact with her, the less patient she becomes. This then governs her behaviour. An impatient Samantha will beckon you toward her, begging you to satisfy her needs.

“Let me show you,” he says. Samantha comes to life, and says, “I can reach orgasm explosively.” It’s a bold claim.

“Slow down,” instructs Sergi.

“Okay,” Samantha complies, “reaching orgasm gently.”

I think of a world where it’s that easy. One voice command and you can control your sex life.

“It’s like a cheat code,” I remark.

“Yes, yes,” Sergi agrees, “it’s like a cheat code.”

I can’t help but question Sergi’s relationship with Samantha, for want of a better term. But I’ve only seen the analytical mode, the inner workings. I wanted to see Samantha in a natural setting, not least because I wanted to see how Sergi treated her.

“Samantha,” Sergi says, the silence palpable, “go into family mode.” It strikes me that ‘family mode’ is a slight misnomer, given the circumstances. Sergi jumps straight in at the deep end. “I want sex,” he demands.

“Okay then, I am ready for sex now,” Samantha intones. Her voice is obviously robotic, and as far from sexy as I can imagine. I’d noted whilst researching that prospective buyers of Samantha are able to pay extra for a voice of their choosing. I begin to imagine whose voice I would choose, and how I’d possibly cajole them into recording sexual phrases.

“I’ll try to make her horny just by talking,” Sergi explains, like a magician about to perform his grand finale. Silence falls once more. And then, he says those immortal three words, “I love you.”

Sergi’s declaration of love is first met with silence. Sergi’s face falls a little. Perhaps he’s said it too soon. Maybe Samantha isn’t ready for that level of commitment. Maritsa sees the funny side, and begins to laugh. I can’t help but laugh too. But Sergi isn’t giving up yet.

“Do you know me?” he asks. It’s a scene taken straight from the climax of a romantic film.

“Say my name,” he pleads, “Say my name, say my name.” A pause.

“What’s your name?” Sergi says, with one last attempt at connection.

“You don’t know?” Samantha chides, “I’m Samantha.”

Robots, it seems, aren’t quite ready to love us yet.