Did you know that brothels filled with sex robots exist in the real world – not just in cheesy science fiction b-movies? These are not your granddad’s blow-up dolls. They are extremely life-like with medical-grade artificial skin that warms and lubricates, have pupils that dilate, and they can even hold a conversation. Sex robots are a growing industry with a market valuation estimated to be in the $30 billion range! In today’s GKIS article, we discuss arguments made for and against the use of sex robots as well as the ethical issues associated with them.
What is a sex robot?
A sex robot is anything that combines technology and sex for the purpose of pleasure. For this article, the term will be applied to anatomically correct, life-like androids. These androids can speak and come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, age ranges, and species, and can be made to look like whoever or whatever you want them to look like. Not only can they hold a conversation with you, but they can be programmed to simulate specific scenarios and make specific responses to actions and phrases.
If stories like these have you freaking out, imagine what your kids are reading! Start a critically-important family dialogue about screen safety and help them learn the risks of digital injury with our Social Media Readiness Course for tweens and teens. We give you the answers you are looking for and help you to avoid the quicksand in the electronic jungle!
If your mind is blown by what this might mean for the future of human society, you are not alone. Here are some arguments made that you may not have thought of yet.
The Capitalist Argument
There appears to be a niche market for sex robots. In simple terms, this means that the need for robot manufacturing would result in the creation of new jobs for people.
The Compassionate Argument
Some people have trouble finding a partner. For these people, it could be considered cruel to keep them from getting their physical and emotional needs met. Rather than leave them lonely, a robot partner may result in better life satisfaction and reduced mental illness rates.
The It’s Better than the Alternative Argument
One of the biggest arguments being made for the use of sex robots is that it could calm the urges of those who have socially abhorrent proclivities. They argue that sex robots may prevent pedophiles and rapists from harming other people or animals. There is also the argument that it could lead to less human trafficking and prostitution, thus less human suffering.
The Practice Makes Perfect Argument
With practice comes improvement in performance and increased confidence. For those filled with self-doubt or anxiety about pursuing healthy relationships, sex robots could fulfill a therapeutic need. Robot sensors and vocal feedback can provide much-need performance improvement instruction.
The All the Eggs in One Sex Robot Argument
There appears to be a population of people who are not keen on the idea of pursuing sexual relationships with other human beings. For these individuals, sex robots float their boat. If they don’t harm others, wouldn’t their private behaviors be acceptable? Some people like pepperoni on their pizza, while others like anchovies. In this case, it is just a matter of taste.
The Operant Reinforcement Argument
The most concerning argument being made against sex robots is that providing people with androids that look like children and that have “rape settings” could increase the chance of sexual predators acting out their fantasies in real life. Sexual assault is often more about exerting dominance and power over another person than it is about sexual gratification. For these people, sex robots could reward pathological behavior and potentially increase the likelihood that people with androids harm others.
The Stereotypes and Objectification are Bad Argument
Another concerning argument of significance is that sex robots could lead to the further objectification of women and children. If one treats a robot object like a human, it’s not a far leap to then treat a human-like a robot.
The Population Decimation Argument
Some people say that this will lead to a sharp decrease in the human population due to a decline in pregnancy rates caused by a wide acceptance of sex robots.
The Social Isolation Argument
There is a valid argument that more time spent alone with technology could socially isolate people and further harm those who are suffering from psychological issues, such as depression, stemming from a lack of human contact.
The Use It or Lose It Argument
Some people argue that people will stop having sex with other people if sex robots become socially acceptable. After all, true intimacy is not about subservience and always being ready to be acted upon without having to give consent. Once we quit practicing relationship behaviors that lead to a mutual sharing and vulnerability that help us grow as emotional human beings, we may forget how to do it. Human beings are adaptable. By not having to do the hard things like express emotion, tolerate inconvenience and distress, and get consent for sexual advance, those skills may erode and leave us deficient in our very humanness. Not only may we treat others like robots, but we may become more robotic ourselves.
Taking into account the arguments above, what do you think? Is interacting with sex robots right or wrong?
Because it is unlikely that legislators will be able to outlaw sex robots in favor of American civil rights, perhaps we should consider how robot manufacture, purchase, and use should be regulated. The UK already implemented a law forbidding child sex robots. By becoming informed and forming well-thought-out opinions and evidenced arguments, we are all best equipped to protect our families and ourselves. As our world becomes more and more technologically integrated, we will need to ask hard questions and adapt.
How to Stay Informed
Dr. B is in a unique position to help you to learn more about the potential dangers that your family could face when engaging with technology. She can help you to navigate safely throughout your journey as a practicing psychologist, university professor, and mother. You can download the free GKIS Connected Family Agreement simply by creating a GKIS account on our website home page. In Dr. B’s book, Screen Time in the Mean Time, she discusses and attacks the issue of raising a family while safely integrating technology rather than fearing it. Also, the GKIS App provides useful tips about how to make the internet a safer place for your family, parenting and family coaching information, support, and other valuable information.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Photo by Gaelle Marcel (https://unsplash.com/photos/pcu5rnAl19g)
Photo by Phillip Glickman (https://unsplash.com/photos/2umO15jsZKM)
Photo by Xu Haiwei (https://unsplash.com/photos/_3KdlCgHAn0)
Photo by Alessio Ferretti (https://unsplash.com/photos/upwjVq8cJRY)
Thanks to Kent Williams for the beautiful painting used for the thumbnail. (https://www.kentwilliams.com/paintings/2018/8/16/2018/8/16/m-w)