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05 July 2017

Call to consider sex robot ethical, moral issues

A report has been released by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics into the rapid rise of the ‘sex bot’.

MOVE over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here. Artificial intelligence is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sex tech” designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.

They can be customised down to their shape and hair colour and can cost between $US5000 and $US15,000 ($A6566 to $A19,698).

One of the 'sexbots' already available on the market. It’s supposedly capable of ‘50 positions’.

One of the ‘sexbots’ already available on the market. It’s supposedly capable of ‘50 positions’.Source:Supplied

What if sexbots have feelings, too? Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer in the film 'Blade Runner'.

What if sexbots have feelings, too? Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer in the film ‘Blade Runner’.Source:Supplied

The increasingly lifelike robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report says, including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders or for people with disabilities.

Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in Britain, says it is difficult to predict how far or fast the market will grow or what its effect on societies might be.

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“Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?” he asked at a news briefing overnight.

“How would (sex with a robot) equate to a truly human intimate relationship?”

The report looks at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes.

It found “major disagreement” on this question, with some arguing that having sex with a robot would reduce attackers’ desires to harm fellow humans, and others arguing that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms.

On the issue of “meaningful” relationships, the report says that with current AI technology, and even in the foreseeable future, no human-to-robot feelings will ever be mutual.

“The best robots could do is fake it,” it said.

“Robots cannot feel love.”

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