Should Intelligent Sex Robots be Banned?

Daniel Fraga
September 20th 2015

The Campaign Against Sex Robots, recently launched, is pushing towards banning the continuation of sex robots development. Over the last decades, an increasing effort from both academia and industry has gone into the development of these robots - going so far as looking to imbue them with artificial intelligence in order to make them seem more like humans, and therefore more attractive to customers. According to the campaign, these developments are unethical and will eventually harm humanity.

The protest proponents believe that sex robots will contribute to further sexually objectify women and children, as well as reduce human empathy that can only be developed by the experience of a mutual relationship.

"We take issue with those arguments that propose that sex robots could help reduce sexual exploitation and violence towards prostituted persons, pointing to all the evidence that shows how technology and the sex trade coexist and reinforce each other creating more demand for human bodies", we can read on the campaign website.

But what exactly is the intention of the people pushing these developments further?
On the 11th of June 2015, The New York Times published a report, as a part of their series titled Robotica, where they interview Matt McMullen, CEO of Abyss Creations. In his own words, "(...) the hope is to create something that will actually arouse someone on an emotional, intellectual level - beyond the physical". Abyss Creations is interested in adding AI to the robots, and also using virtual reality to enhance the interaction and simulate sentience to the greatest extent possible. The goal is to create an emotional bond between Man and Machine.

The campaign is led by Kathleen Richardson and Erik Brilling, who are researchers on robotics and ethics. Their goal is ultimately to encourage developers, roboticists and computer scientists to produce work that reflects principles of dignity, mutuality and freedom, rather than taking part in an activity that is inextricably linked with the sexual exploitation of humans.

We will have to wait and see whether sex robots will, in fact, become a popular phenomenon, or if people will take sides with the Campaign Against Sex Robots and dismiss these developments as something ultimately degrading, uncanny, "unnatural" and unethical.

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Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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