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Robotics Technology

Robotics Researcher Starts Campaign To Ban Development of Sexbots 536

Earthquake Retrofit writes: A robotics ethicist from the UK's De Montfort University has started a campaign to ban the development and use of sex robots. "She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical." The campaign was spurred by news that some companies claim to be fairly far along in development of such technology. One company even plans to start selling them later this year. The campaign's goals and concerns include "We propose that the development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship," and, "We challenge the view that the development of adults and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence."
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Robotics Researcher Starts Campaign To Ban Development of Sexbots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:22AM (#50530143)

    when they pry it from my cold, dead hands...

    • Gasp! Did you never see "I Dated A Robot" in health class?
    • when they pry it from my cold, dead hands...

      Any sexual experience not based on a mutual relationship is bad, apparently - so they'll be taking your hands, too.

  • Bigotry Shmigotry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:25AM (#50530147)

    "She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women"

    Millions of gay men will hate you and your bigotry, because your arguments sucks more than a sex robot would do.

    • by kaur ( 1948056 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:44AM (#50530223)
      Why does she believe the sexbots to be mostly feminine?
      Why only stereotypes of women need reinforcing?

      A female chauvinist pig she is!
      • Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:06AM (#50530311) Journal
        Exactly. Compare sales of fleshlights to sales of vibrators / dildos. Women are far more likely currently to be buying machines for sexual purposes. Why would the sexbot market be any different?
        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:54AM (#50530475) Homepage

          Exactly. Compare sales of fleshlights to sales of vibrators / dildos. Women are far more likely currently to be buying machines for sexual purposes. Why would the sexbot market be any different?

          Because women are buying it as substitute for a cock, men as substitute for a relationship? If you look at something like escort service and prostitution it's massively dominated by male customers who pay for women to pretend to be their girlfriends/lovers or even dressing up RealDolls. Women use vibrators/dildos because they want want sex without the "baggage" of a boyfriend/one night stand, men want to play-pretend the exact opposite. Another clear clue should be that fleshlights try to mimic a human vagina, while there's a huge market for dildos and vibrators in all shapes and colors that have nothing to do with realism.

          In any case, she's wrong and it's a massive double standard at work here. Over the last 100 years there's been a massive movement to give women economic independence. Well tough shit, now we men want sexual independence and if I can get a sexbot to screw my brains out then we start a relationship more on equal footing. No, you don't need my money. No, I don't need your pussy. We can both do fine on our own, but maybe we have some mutual interest in having a relationship together because we want to. There's many men staying in poor relationships because they get pussy, ending those would do everyone good.

          • by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @08:20AM (#50530801)

            Such bullshit.
            Men and women alike want sex, men and women alike like relationships. There are those of either gender that don't want one or the other (and a very small group that don't want either) but that isn't really relevant.

            • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:07AM (#50531177)

              The big difference is, if you are an average looking guy, it's not easy to get laid when you want or get a gf when you want.

              The reverse (average looking woman) is not true; Even blandest plain looking average woman can get laid whenever she wants, will have a lineup of men waiting to take her out on dates (getting a decent bf is not as easy though).

              This is nothing more than a woman being terrified they will lose their sexual power over men.

              Imagine how the dating scene would change if men could get off (legally, cleanly and guilt free) whenever the had the urge, instead of having to date countless women and pretend to like them to get laid until the right one came along.....

              • by u38cg ( 607297 )
                >>> if men could get off (legally, cleanly and guilt free) whenever the had the urge

                You should try this thing called masturbation. Might make you less inclined to spout total bullshit.

          • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:00AM (#50531111)

            This.....this is exactly it.

            It's all about power, right now, in the west at least, women have it.

            If you pay attention you will often notice that a lot of women seem to oppose any kind of sexual service offered to men. They are afraid that if men can get laid whenever they want, they will not want to settle or put up with the headaches that come with being in a relationship. Of course they they never admit that, instead of opting for causes such as fighting "human trafficking" and "protecting the children".

            And with the rise of sex robots on the horizon.......they are starting to get a little worried, because it renders their arguments against male sexual freedom moot.

            I will admit, that I myself have fallen "victim" to the power of the pussy, dating horrible women because simply they "put out".

          • Because women are buying it as substitute for a cock, men as substitute for a relationship?

            ...what? Do you have visions of men sweet talking their sex dolls and bringing them out to dinner or something? I don't even know what to say to this.

            Women use vibrators/dildos because they want want sex without the "baggage" of a boyfriend/one night stand, men want to play-pretend the exact opposite.

            Again wtf?

            while there's a huge market for dildos and vibrators in all shapes and colors that have nothing to do with realism.

            Hahaha, no there isn't. They exist but the overwhelming majority of dildos sold look like penises, because women want to imagine they're having sex with Brad Pitt or whoever while using them, which is perfectly normal and rational.

          • Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Beezlebub33 ( 1220368 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @10:19AM (#50532029)

            ...If you look at something like escort service and prostitution it's massively dominated by male customers who pay for women to pretend to be their girlfriends/lovers or even dressing up RealDolls.

            You bring up an interesting point: would a sexbot replace a girlfriend, or would it be more likely to replace a prostitute. I would guess prostitute. I would have a girlfriend (insert joke here) because I want a relationship with another human being, with mutually agreed-upon sex, with some conflicting issues regarding frequency and style. I would want a prostitute because I want sex when and how I want it without a relationship. A sexbot fills the second far more than the first. So, the end effect would be a decrease in prostitution / escorts and their knock on effects. This would seem to be a win for women, not a loss.

    • Rather (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elgatozorbas ( 783538 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:55AM (#50530483)

      "She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women"

      Sounds more like "women will lose the powerful tool of sex deprivation to control men".

      Not that anyone here will suffer from that a lot.

      • +1. Dammit, my mod points expired yesterday
    • "Millions of gay men will hate you and your bigotry"

      I'm one of them, and I'm sick of all these arguments that "porn degrades women" or "sex bots degrade women", etc. Gay men watch porn for the same reason that straight men do, and it has nothing to do with degrading anyone. They'll buy sex bots too. I live a few blocks from Folsom St, they'll be in shop windows!

      But I generally agree that this is really a prudish family values argument dressed up as feminism.
  • by Cafe Alpha ( 891670 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:25AM (#50530149) Journal

    Every bit as doomed as banning porn. I'd be angry at her for trying, but since she'll accomplish precisely nothing, I think her failure will be a thoroughly satisfying punishment for the attempt.

    • What next, will she outlaw my freedom to fuck an apple pie if I want?
      Or a woman to fuck a banana?

      Note what a femi-chauvinist she is, completely ignoring two huge groups of people in her thinking: heterosexual women, and homosexuals (of both genders), both of which are equally eager sex toy consumers.

      Small-minded, ignorant, and antiquated thinking.

      • What next, will she outlaw my freedom to fuck an apple pie if I want?

        Yes, because the apple pie is taking the role of the oppressed womyn and therefore you are a male rapist (and in case you're female, you're a virtual male rapist). Also, how old were the apples in the pie? If you haven't got a Title 18, Section 2257 certificate for them you're in serious trouble.

    • Every bit as doomed as banning porn. I'd be angry at her for trying, but since she'll accomplish precisely nothing, I think her failure will be a thoroughly satisfying punishment for the attempt.

      I'm not so certain she'll accomplish precisely nothing.

      If the Victorian era school of thought taught us anything, it is that the taboo is even more desirable.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:26AM (#50530153)

    Looking at the woman

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It's no surprise she fears competition from robots.

  • too much Futurama?
  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:28AM (#50530165)

    "She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical."

    How does choosing to have sex with a robot reinforce stereotypes about women or relationships with women?

    • by Kuroji ( 990107 ) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:43AM (#50530221)

      How dare you bring logic into this argument. This is an emotional appeal, damn it!

    • by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:45AM (#50530229) Homepage

      The interesting thing and lack of basic reasoning skills comes from the fact that Dr. Richardson apparently can only picture sex robots as being a simulacrum of the female gender. Although I don't have hard numbers at hand, I read in an interview with the Real Doll creator, that the male gender did sell almost as well as their female gendered dolls. The kicker is that most dolls were soled with the swap-able genitalia and both genitalia. If we see a usable sex robot any time soon, you can rest assured that it will probably come in both gendered versions.

      But no, let's make this about women and how they are objectified.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:19AM (#50530357) Homepage

      The robots are designed to be as human like as possible in appearance and in the way that they move. The key difference is that unlike human women they are souless sex slaves who only exist to fulfil their owners every desire. I can see why she finds it distasteful - I think I'd feel a bit odd about a cotton picking robot that was designed to look like a black slave, complete with stereotypical attributes and "broken slave" personality.

      Of course it applies for male sexbots too, before someone complaints about that.

      By the way, the way that porn negatively affects some people's attitudes towards their partners, particularly teenagers (who shouldn't own a sexbot, but inevitably will gain access to them just like porn) is quite well documented. Part of modern sex education in UK schools is to point out how unrealistic porn is, and to counteract peer pressure to act like a pornstar in bed. The fear is that sexbots will create the same unrealistic and harmful expectations.

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        By the way, the way that porn negatively affects some people's attitudes towards their partners, particularly teenagers (who shouldn't own a sexbot, but inevitably will gain access to them just like porn) is quite well documented.

        I see no indication this is true.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Well, yours is the first sane comment I've seen on this discussion and with all the ad-homing of this woman, I couldn't figure out if I agreed or disagree with her.

        I think a sex aid of this kind could be very useful for people with disabilities to be able to use it in a way specific to their needs to maintain their mental health. Alternately, she does have a point and will it be used for someones messed up fantasy? Probably, but better a machine than a person.

        I suspect that the opinions of many of the peo

    • Do Androids dream of electric sheep
      Will I dream
      How does choosing to have sex with a robot reinforce stereotypes about women? ...and other unanswered questions were racing through my sci-fi addled mind, as I slowly undressed the Kardashian sexbot I had recharged for the weekend. Only 46 hours of pleasure till Monday, beer stocked in the fridge, pizza to be delivered soon...life is good.

      • by Dr. Zim ( 21278 )

        Kardashian? You bought a Kardashian? Ha! You know they're outdated before they make it off the assembly line and way out of tolerance in the plumbing bits. I hope you got a good deal.

  • by ldobehardcore ( 1738858 ) <steven@dubois.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:28AM (#50530167)
    Good luck with that...
  • by bjwest ( 14070 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:29AM (#50530171)

    I am so disgusted by my own arousal at the thought of a lifelike sex toy that I must have them band for all, lest I give into the unholy temptation and have sex with one.

  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:30AM (#50530177)

    Sexbots for women and men might be the ultimate chance to remedy one humanity's greatest source of conflicts, ranging from the Troian War over annoyingly crazy teenagers to sexually frustrated housewives. They could finally stop men from objectifying women for purely sexual purposes. The effects of this change could be more beneficial than the pill and the invention of the vibrator taken together. In an age in which in-vitro fertilization is easy, it would be crazy to take away this unique chance for the evolution of humanity.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Men are always going to objectify women, it's in our DNA. The modern feminist response appears to be to objectify men right back, not as punishment but as a bit of harmless fun. So whatever.

      The problem with sex robots is the curious reversal of that old feminist mantra that we only need men to provide sperm. If a sex robot can provide sex and companionship and never argues with you, and we accept the feminist idea that some sexes literally have nothing to offer the world except to enable procreation, wha

  • by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:31AM (#50530179) Homepage Journal

    I'll support her movement as long as she also pushes to ban dildos, vibrators, clitoral stimulators, teledildonics, "fucking machines" and other female masturbation aids. No, I don't use masturbation aids, and I don't have a problem with female masturbation aids. I just have a problem with the horrific double standard. Feminists tell us that women who use masturbation aids are strong, independent and empowered, while at the same time claiming that men who use masturbation aids are disgusting perverts.

    • lol.
      Good points. At first, I thought that this was going to be a BS article, but in the long haul, this actually could get some interesting discussions on this. Not so much here, as much as in the mainstream press.
      How can a woman that is making the argument that this will objectifies and kills relationship, not say a single word about the most basest of sex robots that exists today and is used mostly by women?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:51AM (#50530251)

      Exactly! Dildos perpetuate stereotypes of male sexual organ size.

  • by abies ( 607076 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:32AM (#50530183)

    and half of images will be of sex toy robots. If somebody wants to start sex robot line, I would suggest naming lead model 'Kathleen'.

    BTW, what is 'robot ethicist'? I suppose they share university space with Post-scarcity Economics, Xenoarchology, Applied Fusion and Singularity Communication.

    • a robot ethicist is the one who thinks about if a robotic car should kill you by evading a child or mow down the child instead. and about who is going to be sued afterwards.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    as we can still have the killer robots. Those do not " further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence."

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:34AM (#50530195)

    This is just another utterly immoral attempt to force people to behave in ways some authoritarian POS wants them to. Whatever happened to freedom? The irony is of course that this comes form an "ethicist". Apparently one does not even need to know basic ethics to become an "ethicist".

  • They reinforce traditional stereotypes of men and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical...
    Sexbots are masturbation aids, no more, no less. And I don't see anyone but the most hardcore fetishists see them as anything else but a glorified dildo or fleshlight.

  • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:09AM (#50530327)
    She said

    human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship

    So what does she have to offer or suggest to those people (men particularly) who have no opportunity to develop such an experience? In the West at least, a significant proportion of women have rejected men entirely, possible after one fling and a child. Equal wages and opportunities for women, as well as social attitudes, mean that it is no longer "essential" for a woman to find a husband as it was as recently as two generations ago. There are too many men seeking for the number of women available.

    • Equal wages and opportunities for women, as well as social attitudes, mean that it is no longer "essential" for a woman to find a husband as it was as recently as two generations ago. There are too many men seeking for the number of women available.

      nobody said you had to get married however we still do have and want to do that biology thing. Having kids is also important because we need replacements.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      a significant proportion of women have rejected men entirely

      That's rubbish. Women are not "rejecting" men. They just rejecting douchbags. In other words, they are less willing to stay in bad relationships.

      it is no longer "essential" for a woman to find a husband as it was as recently as two generations ago.

      Sure, but women still want long term relationships. They just have higher standards now, and MRAs are complaining that they won't reach down to their level. Plus, many men are rejecting marriage too because of all the bad press.

  • by Ada_Rules ( 260218 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:24AM (#50530371) Homepage Journal
    Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword. How weird is that?
  • Errr (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elmer at web-axis ( 697307 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:25AM (#50530373)
    Where is the campaign to ban dildos. Aren't they simple sex robots that depict men who's only purpose is to sexually furfil women and then to be thrown in a draw?
  • It seems that she is afraid of competition from said sexbots.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tsotha ( 720379 )

      That's really what's under the academic gloss. Sex robots will end up being banned because women want them to be banned. Just like prostitution, and for the same reason. Feminists are afraid of a loss of power.

  • by sabbede ( 2678435 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:54AM (#50530471)
    instead of women?
  • Sure let's make a million of them. For testing. Now drop them in the Middle East, the terrorist training areas. Before they are taught how to have sex with their camels. Or make homemade bombs out of fertilizer, and other household goods. Hey guys, the virgins we were promised are here, early delivery! Everybody would be trying to get these bots in unusual contortions before the bots suddenly explode, nuking the desert back to the stone age.

    • The booby-trap idea makes for a good movie, but consider just letting them have the sexbots gratis. Either the leaders lose control, or they have to get half of their soldiers to shoot the other half.
  • the industry need sexbots the same way the internet needs porn. no way around that, but thanks for bringing that forward.
  • welcome our new Sexbot Overlords!

  • I like to look at this as something of an economics issue, with sex being an economic good (or service).

    Women oppose sex bots (and prostitution) because women function as something of a cartel that wants to establish a minimum price for sex. Historically, the price has been marriage but over the last 40 years or so the cartel has been willing to lower the price as the economic value of men has dropped -- women have vastly more economic opportunities and no longer see socially and legally enforced relations

  • She's actually probably right about sex robots not being a benefit to society, but trying to block them is like trying to stop human nature in its tracks. Good luck with that.

  • There's a reason why "sex toys" are sometimes referred to as "marital aids".

    Some people use sex toys as a substitute for a partner, sure. But plenty of people use them as a supplement to a healthy sexual relationship.

    So, I'm going to apply the same argument here as one would apply to the concept of "potential weapons": inasmuch as anything you can find can be used as a weapon, so, too, can anything be used as a sex toy.

    Ergo: Ban everything.

    Christ, what a limited perspective this woman must have about sex.

  • Warbots are just fine.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:39AM (#50531551)

    If you make sex bots that look too realistic, and this causes men to objectify women, then perhaps this would carry over into how they treat real women. (Mind you, in that case, the genes that lead to this behavior would be eliminated from the gene pool.)

    On the other hand, some men just have higher sex drive and just need to deal with some physical discomfort, unconnected with their emotional relationships with women. If they get their excess needs met somehow, then they might not be total horn dogs when they are around real women and would treat them with more respect as human beings.

    Some artiificial ban on some specific technology isn't going to change people's nature. On the other hand, it might help a lot if we were to educate people from a young age that they need to treat other human beings with dignity and respect.

  • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:55PM (#50535849) Journal

    The abusive comments on the YouTube channel that featured Dr. Richardson were, in my opinion, uncalled for, and probably just reinforce her beliefs. We can have diverse opinions about issues like this, and I, for one, am glad someone's at least thinking about this. As robots come into general familiarity, we're all going to have to do some soul searching.

    While I don't agree with the outright banning of this technology, I do understand her point - I just don't think technology, in and of itself, is good or evil.

    This was my (somewhat lengthy response to her):

    I think that we can have a discussion here without such personal derision. I wonder, Dr., how you feel about places like China where the men outnumber the women by over 30%. Or in Japan, where women's increased demands for an 'acceptable' mate have lowered their birthrate to non-sustainable levels. Already there are men there who use RealDoll-like toys - some who literally make them part of their social lives. What options are available to them that would be acceptable to you?

    In addition, and closer to Western world, not all men are capable of having or maintaining a sexual relationship with women - but this doesn't necessarily limit their sex drive. Men with severe appearance deficits or low intelligence may never have the opportunity to have a mate.

    While it is often easy for women to dismiss sex for men as being a disconnected act, this is certainly not always true (it isn't with me), and I believe there is an equally important biological need for acceptance and love. This is demonstrated differently with different men.

    While I do believe there is some merit in your argument, I also believe that sexual expression IS different between men and women, regardless of relationship status.

    Imagine the outrage over the removal of Disney 'Princess' movies, romantic novels (essentially word-based pornography), or sex toys for women would cause! And yet, these things unquestionably also color women's perception of relationships with men - and their expectations.

    As feminists scream for equality, the truth is that women are the ones who do the choosing, as they feel the need to be specially selective about their mates. This can be seen in the animal kingdom as well. It is understandable (especially when the production of children is involved), but this is, at least, an example of how men and women are not only different, but unequal.

    Doesn't this, in and of itself, color an unfortunate man's opinion of woman? How better to address that than by providing men with the next best thing?

    Advanced robotics is going to even the playing field somewhat for those disenfranchised men, not among the lucky to be selected by a 'real' woman. Eventually, it may offer these rejected men another side altogether of women, providing them with a 'loving' partner, fulfilling their need to be loved. Obviously, the reality of the 'love' expressed will be proportional to the level of technology and the skill of AI programmers.

    Certainly, early forms of this will be no more than machine-assisted masturbation, but this will be a short-lived period of time, as Moore's Law and the determination of science has previously demonstrated.

    As with any technology, the possibility for good and evil will exist. I suggest letting things progress as they will until direct evidence against ANY positive use exists.

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