Sex with robots is a concept which has been widely explored in the media in recent years – in films such as Ex-Machina and TV shows like Humans and Westworld. This is a deeply unsettling idea which many believe still to be fiction. However, this is not the case.
Truecompanion.com has recently released Roxxxy – “the world’s first female sex robot” which can be purchased for around £7,000. The robot has been in the works since 2001 and can perform sexual acts, as well as have conversations. The robot’s appearance can be completely customised and, through the use of artificial intelligence, comes with 5 pre-programmed personality settings. Furthermore, the 2nd International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots took place on the 19th-20th of December at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Some argue that this is a positive development for the human race, as these robots could help members of the public who may struggle to find a partner. David Levy, the author of “Love and Sex with Robots” claims that there will be “a huge demand from people who have a void in their lives because they have no one to love, and no one who loves them. The world will be a much happier place because all those people who are now miserable will suddenly have someone. I think that will be a terrific service to mankind.”
Take Japan as an example. It was recently announced in a government study that 42% of men and 44.2% of women between the ages of 18-34 are virgins. Many argue that the root of this statistic is the bleak state of the Japanese economy, meaning that many members of the public are focussing on their career instead of human relationships. Perhaps sex robots will prosper in such a society where the media is so hypersexualised; yet almost 50% of millennials are virgins.
Unfortunately, it is very likely that the rise of these sex-bots will distort society’s image of the role of women. It is already acknowledged that pornography is widely unrealistic and has led to the widespread objectification of women in the media. When lifelike machines that are used for nothing but sex become commonplace, society’s perception of the role of women is likely to be warped.
Furthermore, there is cause for concern about whether these robots will result in higher instances in the abuse and rape of real women. With absolute certainty, many users will ‘abuse’ these robots. The Roxxxy model already comes with a personality setting called “Frigid Farrah” that is described to be unlikely to appreciate your advances. Clearly, this setting is aimed at a group of consumers who desire to abuse women. Though these robots are not able to feel real emotions, the desensitisation of rape in our own society is very concerning.
On the flipside of this argument, some argue that these robots will allow men to fulfil their desires through robots instead of women. The same has been argued for paedophilia. Child-like sex dolls can already be purchased on the internet and are argued to prevent paedophiles from abusing human children. Ron Arkin, a robotics engineer at Georgia Institute of Technology believes that these robots could even eventually be prescribed as treatment for sex offenders to fulfil their urges without hurting real-life children.
As disturbing as the idea of sex robots may be, they are now part of the reality we are living in. As a society, the social and ethical implications of these products must be discussed. The impact these machines could have on our perception of the role of women is certainly very concerning. Unfortunately, the production of these machines is set to dramatically increase in the coming years.
Date: 29 Dec 2016