Scientists Fear Sex Robots Could Be Bad For Society

We’ve joked about robots being the future of sex, but for these two researchers, it’s no laughing matter.

Kathleen Richardson and Erik Billing on Tuesday launched the Campaign Against Sex Robots, an effort to draw attention to what they see as the potential societal harm of human-like robots created for the purpose of having sex with humans. While these products are not yet widely available, they “seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry,” Richardson, an ethics of robotics research fellow at England’s De Montfort University, told the BBC.

Billing, a lecturer at the University of Skovde in Sweden, told The Huffington Post in an email that he and Richardson “did not launch this campaign to protect the rights of the robots.” Instead, he explained, they are concerned that using sex robots could foster unhealthy attitudes towards sex and gender relations.

“The danger of sex robots lies in what we read into them, how we form fantasies that, in some respects, become a reality — a reality where the human (male) user is expected to turn on his woman robot companion for his own, lone, pleasure,” Billing said. “I think most of us would agree that this is very far from a healthy, mutual, sexual relationship.”

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 argues that the proliferation of sex robots would strengthen the attitudes of objectification and exploitation that she says are prevalent in the commercial sex trade.

Even though the campaigners argue that there are strong parallels between robot sex and commercial human sex, they reject previous arguments that robots might simply replace human sex workers. —> Read More