It's time for humanity to embrace SEX ROBOTS. For, uh, science, of course
Not just mankind: Ladies love 'em too, we're told
Sex robots and machines for sex
Robot care companions are already in use today, from PARO “an advanced interactive robot” which looks like a cuddly seal through to telepresence robots which can lift and carry patients. The applicability of sexbots for people who may be unable to get out and about is clearly therapeutic.
Commercially there exist several forms of mechanised sex-doll, though a true sex robot should show true AI qualities in responding to its environment and learning from its former behaviour. Roxxxy True Companion is one of the more well-known mechanised sex-dolls, although whether it is actually available on the market is unclear.
“Why do we have gendered machines?” Dr Devlin asked, noting that technology is gendered — it is overwhelmingly made by men, for men, and yet the way in which sex-toys are marketed is particularly interesting.
Dr Devlin noted an analysis of sex toy sales by Jon Millward which showed that women have a clear preference for buying ‘rabbit’ sex toys, “which aren’t entirely anatomically correct (they’re somewhat more optimised) but I don’t know if that would put women off android robots. That’s something we’d like to investigate.”
Male masturbatory aids, colloquially known by the trademarked term Fleshlight™, often come in flesh tones and mimic female genitalia, although one per cent of such toys sold to men come in bright colours and potentially represent an “alien” lover. Female sex toys such as rabbits come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes and do not appear like phalluses and there is a rising interest in “dragon dildos” too.
“As well as sexuality, we can use sex robots as a blank canvas for exploring how we as humans ascribe gender and sexual attraction, for example,” Dr Devlin said. “Why do we anthropomorphise machines, and what do those characteristics that we attribute to machines say about us?”
Utilitarian questions regarding CGI images of child and animal abuse are equally applicable to sex robots, where questions about whether these would discourage or spur on potential offenders persist.
Fictitious CGI images of child abuse are prohibited in the UK but are not illegal in countries such as Japan where manga can often feature cartoon drawings of sexualised children, which the nation’s domestic industry continues to defend despite international condemnation.
Dr Devlin told The Register that there seemed to be “two reactions when I ask people to consider the possibilities of child or animal sex robots. One is that robots could provide an outlet for sexual desires that are abusive and illegal. The other is that it could act as a gateway or normalisation which could lead to more abuse. Again, this is a very nuanced and controversial area.”
All the same, there are gendered issues affecting technology, and that affects sex robots too.
“Technology has not yet reached equality,” Dr Devlin said, pointing out research covered by Motherboard “which has shown that technology is definitely gendered, made by men, for men.”
“This in turn is unfortunately perpetuated because of the low number of women working in STEM subjects. Marketing departments' attitude of ‘pink it and shrink it’ is not helpful either. Women aren't a niche consumer group; we're half the population. Time we had a say.” ®