Sex robots may still be a figment of some fevered imaginations, but many companies which make sex dolls are already at work on adding electronics and artificial intelligence to their products.
However, a leading robot ethicist has launched a campaign to try to nip this movement in the bud.
Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University, Leicester, says that the development of sex robots should be banned.
“Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry,” said Dr Richardson. “And the models that they draw on — how they will look, what roles they would play — are very disturbing indeed.”
The models are generally female and Dr Richardson thinks they will dehumanise women to some men — and then some.
“We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women,” she said.
The sex industry has always been an early adopter of new technology and experts think demand for “intimate robots” will be high.
True Companion says it is developing “the world’s first sex robot” and promises to launch its first doll, Roxxxy, later this year.
Chief executive Douglas Hines said: “We are not supplanting the wife or trying to replace a girlfriend. This is a solution for people who are between relationships or someone who has lost a spouse.”
“People can find happiness and fulfilment other than via human interaction,” he added.
“The physical act of sex will only be a small part of the time you spend with a sex robot — the majority of time will be spent socialising and interacting,” he said.
Pre-orders for Roxxxy — which will sell for $7,000 (€6,200) — number in thousands, according to Mr Hines.
“The development of sex robots and the ideas to support their production show the immense horrors still present in the world of prostitution,” said the Campaign Against Sex Robots website.
The authors of the campaign argued that sex robots would further increase the perceived “inferiority of women and children” and continue to justify their use as “sex objects”.
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