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Sci-fi Writer Takes on Wired for ‘Misguided’ Article on Sex Robot Ethics

If it isn’t a sentient being, does “consent” have a place in the debate?

Three robots stand next to each other.

We report on sex robots a lot at Future of Sex. Beyond keeping readers up to date on the latest technological developments, we also strive to push ethical discussions forward with the aim of shaping the best possible sexual future.

Earlier this month, Wired published an article called “The Squishy Ethics of Sex with Robots” that tries to tackle the question of whether sex robots can consent. Writer Adam Rogers concluded that no matter how sophisticated they might become, robots can never consent to sex. And once they are able to evince signs of lust or love, then using them for sex them would be a form of slavery.

Not everyone is impressed by Roger’s argument, however. On his blog, science-fiction writer Elf Sternberg counters his ideas in a series of posts.

He begins by saying the Wired article is “predicated on a pernicious and ill-considered anthropmorphization of devices that are purposefully designed, by humans, then constructed and deployed from a factory.”

Sternberg also lays the groundwork for his counterargument by defining three technologies related to the creation of humanoid robots: small-scale sensory realism, large-scale mobility, and emotional realism.

One of Sternberg’s more colorful lines:

“No one negotiates with a vibrator, dildo, or cock sleeve. Until and unless robots meet that very high bar we call ‘consciousness,’ we’re pretty much in the clear.”

If you find the ethics of sex with robots an important topic, or at least an interesting one, you can read Sternberg’s posts here:

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Image source: TheDigitalArtist

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