Would You Have Sex With A Robot?

A campaign against electronic sex with Robots (CASR) has been launched in the UK on 15th Sep 2015.

Dr Kathleen Richardson of CCSR (Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility) who is the campaign leader and also a robot ethicist at Leicester’s DeMontfort University in England, has warned of the psychological and social dangers of having intercourse electronically with Robots. She has also expressed concern for how such behaviour may dehumanize and demean women and children as well as reinforce negative stereotypes.

No, this is not a bad script for a new Blade Runner or AI movie. This is very real and sex with inanimate objects by humans is not a new phenomenon. If one has the financial means and the will or need to have sex with an expensively made doll; it is possible.

In a Paper presented at Ethicorp 2015, the authors outlined the ideas behind the campaign. You can read the full paper here.

A summary of the paper can be found on CASR’s website. They are:

  1. We believe the development of sex robots further objectifies women and children.
  2. The vision for sex robots is underscored by reference to prostitute-john exchange which relies on recognizing only the needs and wants of the buyers of sex, the sellers of sex are not attributed subjectivity and reduced to a thing (just like the robot).
  3. The development of sex robots and the ideas to support their production show the immense horrors still present in the world of prostitution which is built on the “perceived” inferiority of women and children and, therefore, justifies their uses as sex objects.
  4. We propose that the development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship.
  5. We challenge the view that the development of adults and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence.
  6. We take issue with those arguments that propose that sex robots could help reduce sexual exploitation and violence towards prostituted persons, pointing to all the evidence that shows how technology and the sex trade coexist and reinforce each other creating more demand for human bodies.

The Proposals are:

  1. We propose to campaign to support the development of ethical technologies that reflect human principles of dignity, mutuality and freedom.
  2. All human beings regardless of age, gender and class have the right to have their subjectivity recognized, but not at the expenses of another through violence, discrimination or coercion.

Next Steps and Goals over the coming year will be to:

  1. Welcome new members to join our campaign and join in on the discussion.
  2. To encourage computer scientists and roboticists to refuse to contribute to the development of sex robots as a field by refusing to provide code, hardware or ideas.
  3. To build alliances with campaigns against the sexual exploitation of humans.
  4. To create a new and alternative voice to highlight the dangers of producing sex robots and the ideas behind them and how their production will impact on the real lives of women and children and men.

Dr Richardson expressed her concerns in a special Technology report on the BBC and also on Twitter. She declared that this is an anthropological leap too far and strongly believes that it is a leap no one should be making.  

“We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women,” said Dr Richardson.

It seems that the success of the sex industry from traditional brothels, to sex apps to Internet pornography is increasingly driving R&D and investment in the robotics industry to create ever more realistic sex dolls and even ones which will incorporate a level of artificial intelligence.

Dr Richardson told the BBC:

“Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on – how they will look, what roles they would play – are very disturbing indeed,” Roxxxy, a sex robot by True Companion is currently under development with a view to launching by the end of this year.  The company claims that it is the ‘worlds first sex robot”.

Douglas Hines, the Chief Executive of True Companion somewhat unsurprisingly disagrees with Dr Richardson’s concerns and states that:

“People can find happiness and fulfilment other than via human interaction.”

If you are looking for some electronic companionship this Christmas or looking to replace human intimacy with Roxxxy the Robot, you will need to stump up £4,530 or $7,000. Somewhat surprisingly, Mr Hines claims that he has had thousands of pre-orders.

How long before we witness the first divorce on the ground of electronic infidelity with a robot? Time will tell.

Ryan De Souza

Ryan is a London-based member of the HackRead's Editorial team. A graduate of Maths and physics with a passion for geopolitics and human rights. Ryan places integrity at the pinnacle of successful journalism and believes this is somewhat lacking in traditional media. Ryan is an educator who balances his time between family, social activism and humanitarian causes and his vice is Football and cars.