Robots, sex, addiction and the human future

Robots have been used for physical labor for a long time. Some time ago they started being used for intellectual labor.

More recently they started being used for emotional labor—robot pets that provide companionship to children and lonely old people, for example.

And now we have sex robots.

If you accept that sexual pleasure need not be associated with marriage, human reproduction or even affection, and if you are okay with pornography and sex toys, it is hard to make a principled objection to sex robots.

The. problem with sex robots is that they will be able fulfill specific sex fantasies more precisely than actual human beings can.  And that means some people, maybe many people, possibly even most people, will be unable to move from the fantasy aspect of sex to the love, marriage and childbearing aspect.

Pornography addiction is a problem.  Internet addiction is a problem.  Some people can’t bear to be separated from their cell phones.  Would sex robots become just as addictive?

Suppose you could buy a sex robot that would allow you to act out a sexual fantasy of rape and torture, or of sex with a small child?  Would that be acceptable, since no sentient being was actually harmed?  Or would this intensify the forbidden desires? 

If you’re exclusively eat extremely spicy food, you may lose your appetite for bland food.  And what if you become habituated to eating things that don’t nourish you at all?  I hope you see the problem.

I note in passing that all the prototype sex robots seem to have the female form.  We men might react differently if there were a lot of large handsome, muscular male prototype sex robots.

The SF writer Charles Stross wrote two novels, Saturn’s Children and Neptune’s Brood, in which the characters were sentient androids.  Human beings had died out, presumably from apathy and lack of a sense of purpose, because anything biological humans could do, androids could do better.

I don’t believe sentient androids are possible.  I could be wrong, though, because I don’t really understand what sentience is.  

If sentient robot slaves, including sentient robot sex slaves, are possible, that opens up a whole new category of evil, and also a whole new danger to the human race, when the androids begin to understand the difference between slavery and freedom.

Then again, it’s possible humanity eventually will find sex robots less interesting than other human beings.  Maybe the end result will be that sex workers, who formerly play-acted being nurses or French maids, will start to also play-act being sex robots.

Or maybe narcissism and solipsism will be taken a step further.  After all, a machine, however sophisticated, has limitations.  

The next step is virtual reality, enabled by brain implants or sense input through visual reality suits.  You could experience any sexual fantasy without being limited by the laws of physics.

Or why take the. trouble to script a mental fantasy?  Why not have direct stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain, like the “wireheads” in SF writer Larry Niven’s Known Space stories.

LINKS

Replacing Humans: Robots Among Us by CBS News.  [Hat tip to O]

Philosophers on the ‘intriguing ethics’ of sex robots by Joe Humphreys for the Irish Times.  [Hat tip to O.]

Sex robots: perverted or practical in the right against sex trafficking by Liz Taylor for the Irish Times.

How AI sex robots could ‘change humanity completely’ by Gavin Fernando for news.com.au . [Hat tip to O.]

Watch Will Smith try to romance Sophie the AI robot by Bonnie Burton for c/net.  [Hat tip to O.]

Exploring the Psychological Characteristic and Risk-Related Cognitions of Individuals Who Own Sex Dolls by Craig A. Harper, Rebecca Lievesley and Kate Wanless for the Journal of Sex Research.   Conclusion: Owners tend to be lonely and passive, but not a threat to society.

The Campaign Against Sex Robots web site.

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