Some people love robots, and why not? They’re semi-autonomous machines that can perform tasks considered too dangerous or tedious for us flesh-based lifeforms. But some people may love robots a little too much. Ethicists are already contemplating the future of human-robo love — and they want you to keep your genitals to yourself.
“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,” Dr. Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, told the BBC.
In a research paper, Dr. Richardson wrote, “Only the buyer of sex is recognised as a subject, the seller of sex (and by virtue the sex-robot) is merely a thing to have sex with ... The structure of prostitution encourages empathy to be effectively ‘turned-off.’” In other words, by using a semi-animate object as a sex partner, you are dehumanizing both your partner and yourself.
To be honest, until now, I’ve given absolutely no thought to having a robot as a sex partner, except in the scene in A.I., during which I thought, “Eww.” But Gizmodo has: “Instead of demonizing what we don’t know, we should be working on proposals to make the forthcoming industry safe—for humans and robots both.”
While the legalization of prostitution has made the world’s oldest profession safer for the women (and the small percent of men) who practice it in some places, it’s not clear that legalization of four-limbed sex toys would be helpful to women. In fact, by creating a female sexbot (currently, the only known sexbot, which is still in production, is female), there comes the very real risk of having men view all women as sex, well, objects.
But there is one benefit: The men who view women as sex objects may keep a sexbot just so they don’t have to deal with the complexity of an actual relationship. In Darwinian fashion, these men will keep themselves out of the dating pool in favor of the company of machines. And that’s a win for women.