Using sophisticated robotics to develop realistic human dolls capable of performing sex acts is “very disturbing indeed”, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson. Mechanical toys for sexual pleasure already exist, of course, and hardware developers are working to incorporate A.I. into their designs.
This comes at a time when we are facing the launch of True Companion’s Roxxxy, the first sex robot. Roxxxy has already had thousands of pre-orders. “We believe that an organized approach against the development of sex robots is necessary in response the numerous articles and campaigns that now promote their development without critically examining their detrimental effect on society”.
Dr Richardson says they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical. He seems a true believer in the fact that people will be willing to spend tons of money on a life-like, human-sized doll entitled “sex robot” to talk with and chill out for most of the time.
Sex robots “are harmful and contribute to the inequalities in society” by introducing an asymmetrical relationship between owner and their droid lover. Many companies all over the world have been developing robots designed for sexual purposes (some close to completion as near as 2017), which has prompted the start of the “Campaign against sex robots”.
The campaign’s website features a position paper by Richardson comparing the relationship between a person and a sex robot to that between a client and a human sex worker. Richardson is also against Amnesty International’s call to decriminalize human sex work. That ban isn’t going to happen, nor should it. Prohibition is seldom a fix. “However, we are strongly against the development of sex robots without a consideration of the ethical and social consequences of such machines”. Why not push for reasonable regulations instead, like ensuring the robots are secure against malware, must look/act of legal age, and establishing legal minimum ages (18+) to use their services?
Companies are rushing to get out the sex robots, including Real Doll, which the New York Times profiled in a video not too long ago (totally NSFW btw). Despite their focus on a highly advanced future, these ethicists are heavily weighted by the traditions of the past.
Other academics, however, have welcomed the possibility of sex robots, seeing potential benefits for sex therapists treating issues like erectile disfunction and fear of intimacy. Robots are literal objects, while sex workers are human beings with thoughts, feelings and agency. “I think most of us would agree that this is very far from a healthy, mutual, sexual relationship”.
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).