Rise of the machines

Ethicist calls for ban on development of sex robots

A robot doll at Realbotix, in San Marcos, Calif. Zackary Canepari/The New York Times

It’s been well documented that the development of sex robots is a burgeoning niche of the technology industry, but one university professor in the U.K. thinks creating machines for such a prurient use is an entirely “disturbing” idea. Dr. Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University, is raising concerns about the implications of robots that are designed explicitly for sexual gratification, and wants the industry to reconsider its approach to creating robots specifically for sex. “We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and men and women,” she told the BBC. Richardson worries that sexbots play into the physical aspects only of human relationships and objectify women. At first glance, Richardson said, she didn’t think they were problematic. “When I first started looking into the subject, I thought, ‘Oh sex robots, that’s harmless,’ and perhaps these robots would reduce demand for real women and children.” Richardson said her research shows the opposite is true. And she’s not the only member of the scientific community who is sounding the alarm on sexbots. Erik Billing, a professor from Sweden, cautioned about the unknown effects of human-robot relationships, and has also joined Richardson’s campaign against sexbots.

Read the full story at CNBC.


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