A comprehensive new report dives into seriously uncharted territory.
And forget the cool smoothness of their vinyl sex-doll predecessors: These high-tech sex robots are made of silicone, giving them a “warm to the touch” feel.
Depending on which model you choose, your sex robot can also display certain traits and personalities, perform up to 50 automated sex positions—and maybe even “orgasm.”
Technological developments have made sex robots more lifelike than ever.
But they’ve also sparked a host of questions about what these advances may bring.
Now, experts at the Foundation for Responsible Robotics have compiled a report bringing to light some of the issues, sparking a fascinating debate on what the future for these sex robots may hold over the next five to 10 years.
Sound far-fetched? Well, the number of people who’d consider having sex with a robot may be higher than you think.
In a Tufts University survey of 100 people, more than two-thirds of men were in favor of it, compared to just 37 percent of women.
And last year, when we polled nearly 3,000 guys on Twitter about it, 20 percent said robot lovers could make real women obsolete—and 10 percent said “other” guys might choose AI over real-life, but definitely not them.
So if guys are choosing sex with sex robots, what might that mean down the line? That’s a hazy picture, according to the report.
For one, intimacy with sex robots might lead to more social isolation—but it may also prove helpful for people with for people who are already isolated sexually.
Toronto-based sex educator Sonya JF Barnett told us when we explored the rise in sex robots last year that they may be beneficial for some men, especially those with disabilities, severe social anxiety, recent widowers, or anybody who just doesn’t feel comfortable with human-on-human intimacy.
“There’s nothing wrong with satisfying sexual pleasure if no one is getting hurt,” she told us.
“There’s an unfortunate prevailing attitude that humans having no sex is more palatable than humans having sex with robots.”
Plus, other sex therapists in the report believe sex robots may help clients address other sexual issues, like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
But other experts believe that relying too much on robot interactions can actually foster isolation and loneliness.
The likely reason? Spending too much time on robot relationships can make it difficult to forge human friendships.
We miss out on the intimacy and empathy that’s the foundation of human interaction, so when we finally go back to the human route, we can become overwhelmed with a real sexual relationship because of the ease we’ve experienced with robots.
Another issue? It’s possible that the design of sex robots may be amplifying already problematic gender stereotypes.
“There is no question that creating a pornographic representation of women’s bodies in a moving sex machine, objectifies and commodifies women’s bodies,” the authors write.
Now, while there are male robots, they tend to be programmed to perform interesting tasks.
Female gendered robots, on the other hand, tend to perform service tasks or be used sexually.
So there’s a lot of disagreement among experts whether the rise in sex robots could encourage or reinforce sex crimes—or if having an outlet for that desire could satiate them, which could actually help reduce sex crimes.
Bottom line: “This is only a first step to broader societal discussion,” the authors write.
By identifying the possible issues that could arise from these new technological developments, the authors hope to foster conversation on the issue to help shape further research and possible regulations.