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A New Target: The Inevitable Ban on Sex Bots May Be Near


The future is here, and we’ve always been quite wrong about it what it would hold; Sci-Fi writers imagined grim dystopian worlds, hover technology by 2015, or deep space travel and fully sentient machines by 2001. While HAL 9000 isn’t quite a reality yet, we are making strides in the robotics sector.

Scientists, engineers and hobbyists have been building ever-improving robots for some time, and every year we move one step closer to a machine that beats the Turing Test. That test, for those of you who don’t know, is derived from the arguable hero of World War II – Alan Turing. Turing created the Turing Machine, a machine used to crack the Enigma Code that allowed the Allies to intercept, and most importantly transcode, German communications. Turing’s machine was so successful that the test was named in his honour, quite posthumously and quite a bit too late. Turing, the grandfather of computing, would die in 1954 by suicide after being convicted – for homosexuality.

We now move to present day, where Turing’s work has set us on a mechanical path to the future. Today, we can build intelligent robots; robots that can assess their surroundings, climb stairs, and even run. It should be of no surprise, since we’ve covered this topic in previous articles, that sex robots are coming, and in some cases are already here. People have talked about this possibility for some time: the golden age of the virtual waifu. That age is certainly on the horizon, with VR technology moving at a rapid pace towards the consumer market. The age of fully capable sex bots is probably a little further off, but that doesn’t stop people imagining what it would be like to own one. People already own Real Dolls, the ultra-lifelike dolls that function similarly to the blow up doll you got given as a gag gift, but with a thousand times the realism. Unfortunately, every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction, and now these robo-partners are coming under fire.

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“Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable,” said Dr. Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester. Of course in reality, sex bots would absolutely be desirable, with people already attempting to create them and people willing to buy them. There is a market for everything and anything, as the Real Dolls can prove despite not even being robotic. Others working in the field would disagree with Dr. Richardson, stating that there is, in fact, a need and desire for them. “Sex robots are a growing focus in the robotics industry,” says Dr. Richardson, “how they look, what roles they play – are very disturbing indeed,” she concluded. Dr. Richardson believes that such robots would reinforce gender roles, stereotypes, objectify women, and so on, ignoring any possibility of male robots. She also feels that this would give the impression that relationships are entirely physical in nature, and sends the wrong message. Of course, most people will understand a sex robot is not a real relationship and merely an expensive sex toy ($7000!), but the campaign maintains this is the case.

Male masturbation toys have come under scrutiny in the past, with the Fleshlight being a good example. While dildos for women are seen as a beacon of independence and discovering sexuality, Fleshlights are often synonymous with virgins, men who aren’t really men. The argument has been made before that the “the disembodied female body part exists only for pleasure”, that since “the porn industry already caters to men,” there’s no need for these toys. Of course, the same thing can be said for a dildo, but in the world of double standards, this isn’t a credible counter argument. True Companions, the creator of Roxxxy, the first sex doll to hit the market, said that “we’re not supplanting the wife or trying to replace a girlfriend.” They added that “people can find happiness and fulfilment other than via human interaction.” This is true of most if not all sex toys; they are used for personal enjoyment or even incorporated into a relationship, but never do they replace the boy or girlfriend outright. If they were to replace the real thing, then that would generally suggest the relationship probably wasn’t that good anyway.

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Dr. Kevin Curran, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers said “We would be naïve to ignore market forces for intimate robots.” This goes quite against Dr. Richardson’s claims that we discussed earlier, and asserts that there is indeed a market, as expected. He continued on, however, by stating that he felt public backlash would follow. “There have been campaign groups actively voicing opposition to killer robots, but I forsee a time when humans are lobbying against robot companions.” Adding to Dr. Curran’s assumptions, David Levy, an author on the topic, believes that there’s likely to be high demand for these sex bots. “There are an increasing number of people who find it difficult to form relationships, and this will fill a void.” He added that he felt “it is not demeaning to women any more than vibrators are demeaning.” Unfortunately, nobody has told Mr. Levy that it absolutely is demeaning because someone said so, which is about all it takes in 2015.

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So it was foretold, so it has become. Most things sexy are no longer safe from backlash; the age of free sexual expression is nearing its end. The fight was hard won by our ancestors, who did away with skirt length rules, the shaming of sexuality, and the separate beds. In a modern society such as ours, you would still expect us to uphold those ideals, but as a new wave of neo-puritanism draws closer, we’re finding it harder to do so. The women who fought for their rights to do as they please are no longer relevant, but the women who fight to take away that choice from women have centre stage. That choice has been taken away from men too, unable to indulge in any activities for the fear of backlash from people they will never meet. The argument remains that male sexuality negatively impacts women; that men see us only as objects to satisfy themselves. The story goes that we need to make men understand that it’s not all about the physical, but how can that happen when those same people use “virgin” as an insult?

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  • Azure

    The problem is the sexbots are not and should not dangerous in anyway (unless they can hide arm cannons in their slender frames or something). If they were to fight this and win then that would have to include anything artificial that provides pleasure, you cannot say this tool for pleasure is demeaning to women then that very night use a tool for pleasure to demean yourself with a vibrator or dildo. As the saying goes you cannot have your cake and eat it. Kathleen would get lynched if she succeeds, as I am pretty sure sex tools are vital for a lot of people with stressful jobs and such.

  • EroBotan

    don’t give your dick to the feminists! Buy sexbots instead!!

  • BeholdMyPower

    If history has taught us anything, it’s that sex is a big driving force behind the progression of technology. Exploring those avenues with robotics would surely help us all understand more about it, about ourselves as human beings and more. We already have sex machines aplenty; is there honestly that much difference?

  • ” the age of free sexual expression is nearing its end. ”

    I don’t really buy this, and I don’t think any significant rollback is occurring.

    “The fight was hard won by our ancestors, who did away with skirt length rules, the shaming of sexuality, and the separate beds.”

    It’s not like these “advances” are being rolled back to any significant extent.

    David Levy:“There are an increasing number of people who find it difficult to form relationships”

    Uh right. Is that actually true? Or is it simply that we’re becoming increasing AWARE that there’s people who have difficulty forming relationships?

    • Booz

      I wonder if you’ll still think that in a few years.
      Expression is already heavily repressed, if not by law, at least by other forces which are just as tangible.
      Remember stuff like that guy that wore a shirt and got a lot of hate for it, that is repression.
      And stuff like that happens all the time, a random tweet mob here, an angry letter there, some stunt and so on.
      And sometimes those actions actually manage to involve the government, such as the case of the fitness adds that have actually started legal action in the UK.
      There’s other stuff like the saying that 1 out of 10 men at college might be a victim of a false rape accusation for consensual sex after the partner regrets it the next day.
      Or all the new courses they are teaching at schools that come off as super progressive but really dial back to old mentalities of repression.

      And yes, forming relationships is becoming harder, at least forming long and meaningful ones, with numbers between 40 and 70 % of marriages being destined to end in divorce and actual marriage numbers going down unsurprisingly.
      Whatever you believe today I would bet you will not believe so in a few years when all of those things come down becoming more mainstream and into public awareness.

      • What you’re describing isn’t increasing suppression of expression so much as increasing loss of privacy. The public sphere has essentially expanded to include everything we do or say. But that’s avoidable–just avoid mediums where privacy is being encroached on, or use a pseudonym.

        As for marriages ending in divorce, the #1 cause of divorce is related to finances. Costs of living are going up and wages aren’t keeping pace. Raising a child is more expensive than ever. The problem isn’t inability to connect. The problem is that our economy is changing as globalization takes hold. Also, people don’t feel the need to stick with toxic or unproductive relationships like they used to. Dating is a competition. Marriage is a competition. If your partner can do better elsewhere, they probably will. Technology is making that easier than ever.

        I’m pretty sure federal standards of obscenity have actually relaxed over time in the US.

        • Ben (Broken)

          Not really. Considering even a teenager can face jail time just for having “sexy selfies” on their cell phone. So there are still many ridiculous obscenity laws. We may use “sex” in advertising and in movies but if you go beneath the surface America is still very puritanical.

          Sure, if you’re a rich performer you can twerk till dawn ala Miley Cyrus but you still don’t want to be some average smuck fucking his wife when a “social activist type” just happens to see you thru a window and snaps a picture for everyone to see with some sort of twisted angle on how the way you bang your wife is objectification. (Or rape)

          You bring up a good point about privacy but losing privacy and losing more freedoms tend to go hand in hand unfortunately.

          I mean when you stop to consider that San Francisco used to be one of our most liberal bastions of sexual expression and sexual freedom it’s scary to consider what has happened to the bay area now. The sjw craze over there is a repeat wave of puritanism and witch hunts wearing new clothes.

          I’m not saying it’s “hopeless” but personally when it comes to sex I probably would have rather grown up during the 60’s! If I wanted a “long lasting relationship” I would have rather grown up during the 20’s or 40’s.

  • Booz

    “Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable,”

    WELL YOU HEARD IT
    Someone called it unnecessary and undesirable, that’s enough to justify banning something that could make a lot of people happy, be a legitimate business, an art form and even a therapeutic healing tool.

    Because banning things under that logic is always a good idea as proven by many examples where it has worked just fine am I right?
    Obviously I’m being sarcastic.

    But hey, they either ban it under the “it’s immoral” logic, or they go for the more progressive MUSSOGINYEEE cries to get attention and justify it.

    Either way to rationalize a ban of them would be terribly illogical but that has never stopped people from doing dumb stuff before.

  • Ash

    I stopped reading as soon as that Femi-Nazi started preaching.

  • Ben (Broken)

    I really don’t get these people. I mean most western women obviously aren’t banging down my door to date me so why should they feel “jealous” when I suddenly have another alternative way to get off? I mean the sjws/feminists bring up how guys like me are introverted and anti-social as the “ultimate slam” yet they simultaneously also want to “butt in” to my personal business even though they supposedly would not touch me with a 10 foot pole or even want to talk to me. Why target the quiet out of the way people who wouldn’t hurt a fly? Oh,that’s right! The “quiet ppl” never fight back,right? Actually once the “quiet ppl” are backed into a corner they tend to fight back the hardest! You’d think feminist/sjws types would learn that by now!