This seems an appropriate subject for Rule Five Friday: Reuters says we need to have a talk about sex robots. Excerpt:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sextech” 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 said rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.
They can be customized down to the nipple shape and pubic hair color, and can cost between $5,000 and $15,000.
The increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report said — 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 Britain’s University of Sheffield, said it was difficult to predict how far or fast the market would grow, or what its effect on societies might be in years ahead.
“Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?,” he asked at a news briefing. “How would (sex with a robot) equate to a truly human intimate relationship?”
It’s easy to think that someone who may shell out big bucks for a sex-bot is pretty pathetic; to be honest, I’m inclined to think that myself. But is it a possible answer, say, for a man whose wife has a terminal illness – a man who still has physical urges but no desire to cheat on a wife who is no longer able to engage in sex through no fault of her own?
Maybe so. No matter how realistic, sex with a robot can’t be considered an act of infidelity; it’s just masturbation with a fancy toy.
Still; consider the last question quoted above: “Will these robotic
dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?” My prediction: They won’t change societal norms, any more than the Fleshlight (Note: link NSFW!) did. Sex-bots are just another fancy sex-toy; more expensive and more complex than most, but still just another sex toy.
Even the incorporation of artificial intelligence into the sex-bot bill of materials wont’ change things much. The most sophisticated AI still won’t be able to experience the wide range of human sensory input, of emotion, of tingling nerves and twitching muscles that makes up an act of consenting sex between two willing people.
Humans have been using sex toys since they started using tools. The advent of complex, even AI sex-bots is just another aspect of an old, old theme.