The second-to-last issue to be featured in our second annual poll of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology is "sexbots," with roughly 6% of the total votes as of October 2014. Below we've provided more information about this topic to serve as a resource to students, educators, journalists, policy makers, and concerned citizens.
Click here to see the vote totals!
The infrastructure (and presumably the technology) exists to create a robot with synthetic skin and artificial intelligence capable of learning owners’ 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. Advocates say that sexbots can help curb prostitution, sex crimes, and the spread of STDs.
Earlier this year, a Pew report on robots, “A.I., Robotics, and the Future of Jobs,” included a line by Stowe Boyd (one of 1900 people interviewed for the report), the lead researcher for Gigaom Research, who said that by 2025, “Robotic sex partners will be commonplace, although the source of scorn and division," but that sexbots will viewed by some in the same way that we currently “bemoan selfies as an indicator of all that’s wrong with the world.” Whether or not that's true, it certainly caused a media frenzy and started a discussion about the future and ethics of sex with robots.
Love-‘bots: Future Robots Could Become Ideal Lovers, Experts Say (IEET)
Human-Robot Relations: Why We Should Worry (Live Science)
I (Robot) Thee Wed (Slate)
The Human Screwfly Solution (USA Today)
Sex Bots, Robo-Maids, And Other Sci-Fi Myths Of The Coming Robot Economy (Popular Science)
Sexbot Slaves (Aeon Magazine)
Sexbots Could Replace Realistic Love Dolls By 2025 (International Business Times)
Is It Possible to Degrade and Exploit Your At-Home Sexbot? (Pacific Standard Magazine)
Raunchy Robotics: The Ethics of Sexbots (Human Centered Robotics blog)
Sexbots for Women (IEET)
9 Percent of Americans Say They'd Bonk A Sexbot (Popular Science)
Poll Finds 1 in 5 People Would Have Sex With a Robot (The Daily Beast)
The Murky World of Robot Sex and Consent (Wired UK)
Are Child Sex-Robots Inevitable? (Forbes)
Humans Marrying Robots? A Q&A with David Levy (Scientific American)