Hope and help for people suffering from physical and mental barriers.
As part of our ongoing “Sexbot Perspectives” series, we’ve asked several experts this question: What is the potential or the possible pitfalls of developing sex robots? Our aim: To create dialogue and help shape the best possible future—one that will be deeply influenced by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Blogger Girl on the Net is well known for her witty and provocative writing on sex and relationships. Beyond sharing intimate details of her own erotic escapades, she’s also an influential voice on our current sexual culture and where it may be heading.
She’s written articles for The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, The Mirror Online—among other publications—and posts regular updates on her eponymous blog.
Here are Girl on the Net’s views on the possible benefits and downsides of sex robots:
I am fascinated by [sex robots] and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the technology develops. I think there are a lot of people out there arguing that sex robots are “bad” simply because they have a knee-jerk disgust reaction to sexual contact which isn’t human/human or done out of love. In reality, though, we have interactions like this all the time—with sex toys, for instance. To my mind there are lots of interesting questions to explore around sex robots, love and consciousness, and I think if people do develop sex robots that can reasonably mimic human behaviour, then we’ll learn a huge amount about ourselves as a species.
Overall I don’t like to welcome a particular kind of sex tech as “good” or “bad”—I think most tech is what we make of it. So with sex robots, I can see a number of potentially huge benefits:
Some people, who would have been unable to have sex with human partners, or who simply don’t want to have human partners, may be able to experience pleasure that they wouldn’t have otherwise. I can only see this as a good thing. Lots of other sex tech developments have made life easier for people who struggle with certain sexual issues (for instance, people with erectile dysfunction can use toys like the PULSE to orgasm without needing to be erect), and there are plenty of examples of sex toys that make sex easier for people with mobility issues. I imagine similar benefits from sex robots.
Applications of robotics have a huge amount to teach us about the way we as humans interact. Some robots are already being used to help patients with dementia —making them feel less vulnerable and alone. I imagine that many sex robots would/could be used to do similar things, as well as helping people with sexual issues work through them. There are lots of examples of robotics and human relationships in this post: “Could you ever love a sex robot?”
Sex robots don’t necessarily have to be humanoid, or built/designed to have sex the way humans do. Therefore a sex robot could potentially be designed as the ideal lover for you—with more hands for touching, or vibrations in just the right places, or learning algorithms that mean it can give you great orgasms almost every time. The sky is the limit!
I know some people are worried that robots may mean that people have meaningless or emotionless sex, but to be honest I don’t really feel like this is a downside. Having a healthy solo sex life (i.e. masturbating) is not a sign that someone has problems, and I don’t think that we should hold partnered sex up as the “only” or “best” way to have sex.
If someone were to fall in love with a robot (as I think is not only possible but very likely), then we’d need to work out how to support people who become too attached to their machines, potentially to their own detriment.
If the robots have consciousness (again, I’m open to this as a possibility but a long, long, long, way into the future) then there are ethical concerns about putting them to work without their consent—that includes sex work as well as all the other tasks we may want our robot friends to do.
What if they rise up and kill us all? (That’s a joke, btw. They won’t)