Thursday, December 19, 2013

Would You Have Sex With a Robot?

(Dollfriend. Wiki.)

by Louis Shalako

Would you have sex with a robot?

The infrastructure (and soon enough, presumably the technology) exists to create a robot with synthetic skin and artificial intelligence capable of learning its owner’s preferences. Perhaps the most interesting part of the ‘sexbot’ phenomenon is that bot prototypes are not limited to sexual uses, but designed to express love and affection and develop a vocabulary suited to the buyer’s interests.

“Obvious issues that accompany the introduction of such robots include: changing norms and values in human interaction; the possible formation of social bonds or exclusive sexual relationships with robots; sex addiction; transference of expectations from robot relationships to human relationships (including issues of dominance, behavioral expectations, and consent); the further commodification of sex; attachment issues.” – Reilly Centre, Notre Dame.

Any robot specifically designed to replicate the female human form is a gynoid.

“Some argue that gynoids have often been portrayed as sexual objects. Female cyborgs have been similarly used in fiction, in which natural bodies are modified to become objects of fantasy. The female robot in visual media has been described as ‘the most visible linkage of technology and sex’ by Steven Heller.” – Wikipedia.

What about the objectification of women?

“Feminist scholars say that the objectification of women involves the act of disregarding the personal and intellectual abilities and capabilities of a female; and reducing a woman's worth or role in society to that of an instrument for the sexual pleasure that she can produce in the mind of another. Although opinions differ as to which situations are objectionable, some feminists see objectification of women taking place in the sexually oriented depictions of women in advertising and media, women being portrayed as weak or submissive through pornography, images in more mainstream media such as advertising and artstripping and prostitution, men brazenly evaluating or judging women sexually or aesthetically in public spaces and events, such as beauty contests, and the presumed need for cosmetic surgery, particularly breast enlargement and labiaplasty.” – Wikipedia.

Sex robots would do nothing to counteract this of course, but is that in itself a bad thing? Or would women now find themselves forced to compete against robots, who have no physical needs, and no real status, never get tired and are always available?

There are any number of women willing to objectify themselves out of aspirational motives.

Now an android is of course androgynous—exhibiting a relatively human form, without secondary sexual characteristics such as a penis or breasts, etc.

Men get virtually intimate with manga characters. Apparently the device allows for robotic handjobs. That’s like having sex with an animated velvet painting of big-eyed children. All of these robots seem incapable of closing their mouths…kind of a no-brainer there, but with time, all of the human expressions, smiling, blinking, quirks and twitches of physical personality, will be tuned into future sex machines.

This all goes towards creating a more social robot, one that is not wooden and stereotyped, and one that could at least answer phones, sit at a reception desk, or serve coffee and sandwiches in a sit-down restaurant. If the thing could cook and vacuum, who knows, the real lady of the house might be tempted to buy one for hubby’s birthday. The new robots might end up doing all kinds of duty.

There is such a thing as robot fetishism, most likely an offshoot of a paraphiliac tendency.

Wiki’s article on sex-robots is here. 

"Coffee, tea, or me?" (Gnsn. Wiki.)
Robots could be the ideal lover, some say.

“Jason Nemeth, in his essay, ‘Should Robots Feel’ believes love-companion robots will be practical in the future, and may one day satisfy all our intimate desires. Nemeth is not sure whether human/robot love will experience higher success rates than love between two humans, but he says tomorrow's robots will unlock the possibilities, and humans eager to experiment will take it from there.” – Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

An artificial vagina is a simple electro-mechanical contraption. But of course that is only the objective description of one. An artificial vagina, combined with a cloned womb, could, in the very near future, enable a robot to become pregnant. She’d have to be topped up periodically with suitable fluids in order to sustain the foetus to full term.

I, Robot, thee wed. (Slate.)

Sooner or later, someone will marry one, perhaps a pastafarian, or the sort of fellow that writes letters to women on death row and eventually marries one.

“That at least some of us will be having sexual intercourse with robots in the future should be obvious by now. Somebody out there will make love to just about any consumer good that enters the home (and if that’s not the first rule of product design, it should be). But will our robot-human relations be relegated to the bedroom, or will love enter the equation, too? Is our society headed in a direction that will support this transition? Looking at current trends, I’d say that the answer is a resounding yes.”

Human-robot relationships: why we should worry. This is someone’s opinion, and there will be no shortage of opinions. As an atheist, one might have no real moral qualms about doing it with a robot, and presumably such a viewpoint would also have no problem with anybody else doing it.

Other belief systems held by other individuals will vary considerably, and no doubt those opinions will involve questions of what other people may or may not do with a robot.

There are various models of sexual robots available. One or two of them seem quite attractive, objectively speaking, although the esthetics are of course purely subjective.

An infomercial for True Companion.

A (Terrified) User Review.

The Ethics of Robot Sex.

Another product. (Sexbots U.S.)

Are sex robots a threat to prostitutes? Robot sex is safer sex according to this article.

Why would anyone go to another country just to have sex with a robot? They can have a robot stuffed into the back of their bedroom closet. In that sense, I don’t agree with the article in question. Robots will not revolutionize the sex trade, although they may become an adjunct of it.

This would more likely revolutionize price-point marketing in places were prostitution is legal.
Want sex with a real woman? That would cost you a hundred dollars, but if you’re cheap and not too particular, you can try out a sex-bot for five dollars. That is the only real sense where the new technology might be revolutionary, as to whether that threatens sex-trade workers is another story.

It will just be another kink, another lucrative revenue stream generated by serving a particular type of customer. Readers might cringe, but child-sex robots might actually serve an incurable psychosis and make real, human children safer. Without any evidence to go on, it is by no means clear that that is true, and it is also unclear whether the availability of sex robots would lower the rates of rape in general or make women any safer. Controversy is sure to arise where everyone is likely to have an opinion and where nobody has any facts.
It’s all pure speculation at this point.

Making robot sex available might tend to further objectify women, in some opinions.

What sort of man would actually want a sex robot? What sort of relationship might he have with one, and could it lead to a kind of actual love? In my story, Anna, the gentleman is kind of an emotional cripple after spending years in jail. He’s also secretive and paranoid.

Nine percent of respondents indicated they would go all the way with a robot. There are a lot of lonely people out there, and a life of celibacy can lead to sexual frustration. There are a lot of normal people who might benefit at least physically from a sexual robot.

How they deal with the guilt is all up to them, but it’s better than sitting around reading Guilt Without Sex on a rainy Saturday night…

This would hold true for all of the same physiological reasons as masturbation. In fact, sex with a robot is nothing more than masturbation with an aid and an eye to maximizing pleasurable impact—it doesn’t even seem as extreme, and it’s certainly a lot less risky, than auto-erotic asphyxiation.

When a male gets to a certain age, regular sex or masturbation can help to prevent enlargement of the prostate, a precursor to prostate cancer. Once a male gets beyond a certain age, sex is no longer about begetting children, and in the absence of the pair-bond with a partner, sex is purely recreational, or it is about status, it is about seeking stimulus (as in Desmond Morris’ Human Zoo) in an otherwise unfulfilling life.

In that sense, males even without any real or perceived neuroses might be interested in a sexual robot, but for that to catch on, barriers of social disapproval would have to drop significantly. In the future, as the social disapproval for same-sex marriage fades, as an alternative orientation becomes more acceptable, the truly deviant individual would be the one who does not declare a preference, remains celibate and does not masturbate.

‘Cause that’s just plain weird, man.

The James Bond Companion Model. She's a good shot, too.
(pinguino k. Wiki.)
Considering media and public fascination with the sex-lives of anyone remotely appearing to be a celebrity, someone’s non sex-life might be the most interesting thing in the world—for about a day.

Think of the scandal—a successful person, good-looking, nice clothes, a good house, a killer car, all the money in the world and they don’t appear to have any sex life!

That would just drive ‘em nuts, wouldn’t it? (By that, I mean the audience or spectators.)

There is a gender-split in all of this, possibly an orientation-split. Virtually all of the sex robots available today are for heterosexual males.

There is apparently such a thing as ‘Harry Harddrive,’ a sexual robot for women, and presumably it could be in some way suitable for a homosexual man. There’s an NSFW picture of Harry at this restricted access blog-site.

As to whether a female sex robot would be suitable for a lesbian, one has to wonder just what the purpose of it all really is.

As someone once said, if you want companionship, get a dog! Yet one can only assume that unattached lesbians masturbate, or at least have needs too.

Otherwise how would anyone even know what their orientation actually is? The thoughts people have while masturbating would be a giveaway, unless one were in some total state of denial.

The sort of sex robot that you wouldn’t be ashamed of being seen with on a date, where you go to a movie, go out to a club or restaurant afterwards, engage in stimulating conversation, flirt with, would appear to be still some ways down the road.

We’ll call that desideratum the ‘James Bond Companion Sex-Bot’ for lack of a better term.

The sort of sex robot that would walk along beside you, holding hands, and hold their own in a human world, as you stroll through Central Park, is still a kind of scientific dream unrealized. She could play cards, mix a vodka martini, and hopefully, shoot well when the enemy Fem-Bots attacked.

Is it ethical to have sex with a robot? Some of the comments on this Gizmodo article are kind of predictable.

“With robots becoming more and more sophisticated—Robodinho anyone?—scientists are working to come up with a code of ethics to be programmed into robots. This has shades of Asimov's Three Laws, and bigger science fiction nerds than I can clarify whether they were to be taken at face value or more of a lesson that absolute value systems are inherently flawed.” – Gizmodo.

Sometimes it’s hard being a robot. Should ‘artifacts’ be treated ethically? In other words, if an action would be considered abusive towards a human being, is the same behaviour abusive if it is done to a robot?

“This is a call for informed debate on the ethical issues raised by the forthcoming widespread use of robots, particularly in domestic settings. Research shows that humans can sometimes become very abusive towards computers and robots particularly when they are seen as human-like and this raises important ethical issues.”

Uh, huh.

“The designers of robotic systems need to take an ethical stance on at least three specific questions. Firstly is it acceptable to treat artifacts – particularly human-like artifacts – in ways that we would consider it morally unacceptable to treat humans? Second, if so, just how much sexual or violent ‘abuse’ of an artificial agent should we allow before we censure the behaviour of the abuser? Thirdly is it ethical for designers to attempt to ‘design out’ abusive behaviour by users?”

“Conclusions on these and related issues should be used to modify professional codes as a matter of urgency.” – Oxford Journals.

If I get pissed off and kick a dent in my car door, that might be stupid and ultimately, self-harming in that it detracts from the resale value. It might be wrong in that sense, but it’s my machine, bought and paid for. I would think the same holds true for a robot, even if it portrays a woman or even if it’s done in public.

In the story, ‘My New Girl,’ I speculate about such an individual. His new girlfriend is expected to take a certain amount of abuse, and that would be far preferable to treating a real girlfriend the same way.

I still think a lot of observers would draw moral conclusions about the subject’s personality upon seeing such behaviour or attitudes.

This is just one more example of the kind of cultural schizophrenia that already revolves around sexual mores in this society.

Let’s extrapolate to another culture, one where real human women are expected to be submissive to men. Pick any culture you want. The reader decides.

How would that culture perceive the role of the sexual robot?

Because in that sense, there are no inalterable moral values.

They vary by culture, by creed, by upbringing, custom and tradition, and they vary for their time and place.


Note: the author attempted to find the Roman Catholic Church’s ruling, or any other considered moral opinion, on sex with a robot. The information is conspicuous by its absence, but one might assume the Church’s ruling on onanism would cover it, and by extension, sex with a robot, as the author has already acknowledged, is a kind of masturbation in view of the lack of true humanity on the part of aforesaid robot.

Other than that, no one really knows anything as far as I can see.


  1. Was hoping to see an analysis of our approach, but there was no mention at all!

  2. Sorry about that. If I had found anything on the subject I would have included it in the story. This sort of goes to the 'brain-sex' file, doesn't it?


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