Is It Ethical To Have Sex With A Robot?

This week saw HBO's latest big-budget series Westworld premiere to rave reviews and quickly become on of the most talked about shows since True Detective. 

Based on the story and film by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton and developed for television by Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) the series opens up many questions about human nature, and all of the dark fantasies we might want to fulfil if we ourselves could visit a place like Westworld.


Following the life of Dolores, played by the charming Evan Rachel Wood, we see just what the robots are put through on any given experience, there to please and gratify the super rich that visit the park.

It seems that many of the visitors who pay to experience Westworld 'go full evil' the minute they arrive in the quaint Western setting. From visiting the whorehouse to needlessly killing the 'hosts' in a variety of twisted scenarios, all plotted out for their pleasure by those in charge.

The show's frank approach to creating 'sex robots' for pleasure isn't necessarily a new concept. It's explored in shows such as Channel 4's Humans and even to some extent in The Stepford Wives.


Below we explore what the future might hold for sex robots, will they decrease underground human trafficking or are they a symptom of something wrong with our society?

What does the future hold for sex robots?

A U.S company, RealDoll, is currently trying to build an 'intelligent sex robot'. While research suggests the invention may actually lower divorce rates, having sex with a conscious machine raises serious ethical dilemmas.

Dr Kathleen Richardson, senior research fellow in Robotics at De Montfort University, Leicester, wants to ban the building of sex robots because sleeping with them would, in her opinion, be ethically unsound.


As sex robot become more realistic, ethicists worry it could ruin relationships (Image: Gizmodo)

As sex robots become more realistic, ethicists worry they could ruin relationships (Image: Gizmodo)

This isn't the first time an academic has raised the idea of robosexuality, but Dr Richardson is by far the fiercest opponent of the merger between technology and sex:


“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. But then as I researched the subject more I found that the opposite was true — that rather than reduce the objectification of women, children and also men and transgender people, these robots would contribute and reinforce their position in society (as objects). 

We have the real use of women and children in the real world (as sex objects) and this kind of paraphernalia reinforces that message.”



Dr. Helen Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships, thinks that advances in technology mean the way in which humans interact with robots is set alter dramatically in 50 years, stating that "Robophilia" will soon be the norm.

She told The Mirror:


"As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner; it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being."


Japan's robot sex dolls: a terrifying future

The Japanese population is in decline, the Japanese sex doll trade is booming as the field of robotics seems to be making startling new discoveries every single day.

Moreover, our traditional views on marriage, sex, gender and relationships are changing dramatically when compared to the generation that spawned our parents.

It is this combination that puts Japan at the cutting edge forefront of a bizarre, yet predictably grim, new industry - sex robotics.

Japan already boasts the world’s most advanced sex dolls from firms such as Kanojotoys or Orient Industries based in Tokyo. But over the past few months we have heard a great deal about the rise in popularity of a new breed of Japanese sex doll.

Scarily lifelike Japanese sex dolls made of silicon (c) Dutch Wives XXX

Scarily lifelike Japanese sex dolls made of silicon (Image: Dutch Wives XXX)

Made entirely of skin-like silicon and rubber, these new toys named Dutch Wives are slowly becoming a staple of Japan's sexual subculture. £6,000 and a smile will buy you the very superior Yasuragi 'dutch wife' sex doll.

The beautiful, albeit creepy, dolls are available in a staggering range of designs. Users can select from up to ten different head types and thirty different hair colours.

Bust size, hair amount and standing height can all be altered by the user too. Not to mention to eerily sinister movable joints and eye pupils which allow you to mold and manipulate the artificial ladies in to any 'position' or 'expression' you so chose.

Of course, the dolls don't move autonomously just yet. However, experts predict that lifelike robotic dolls of the nature portrayed by Jude Law in the movie A.I could be readily available in Japan for commercial use by as early as next year.

Well - available to men - there are far less instances of 'pleasure robots' being designed for heterosexual women.

If the idea of a 'Dutch Wife' turns you on, don't worry. David Levy, American futurology expert and author of Love and Sex with Robots, states that while 'being loved' by a robot sounds a bit weird, someday, for many people, it will be "just as normal" as human love.

If however, like me, you are more creeped out than anything else, you might want to read up on the work of Dr. Masahiro Mori who describes the response of repulsion and creepiness I get when I look at these ladies as 'perfectly natural'. 

Either way, whether you like them or not, the sex robots are coming!

Is Sex With Asuna Considered 'Cheating'?

Asuna is just like any normal 15-year-old girl except that, like the sex dolls, she doesn't have a soul and she's made entirely of synthetic materials.

Capable of movement, expression and (to certain extent) interaction it is easy to see the dirty minded implications that robots like Asuna will take in the future.

This is particularly true in Japan where an ancient Shinto tradition, which views all inanimate objects as having a 'life force', and robotics technology far superior to that of The West have met and blended.

Of course, Asuna is not a sex robot (not yet anyway) and given her fake age that's probably a good thing. But anyone thinking that Japanese businessmen aren't queuing up to buy an Asuna for anything other than nefarious reasons is at best naive and at worst deluded.

Are we technophobes standing in the way of  progress? Robots aren't going anywhere anytime soon and the concept of "robosexuality" is becoming more and more real day by day.

Should we gracefully step aside and let the machines infiltrate our sex lives, as they have done in every other facet of society? What about all the women currently working as sex workers whose jobs could be stolen by robo-prostitutes?

Futurama - Don't date robots from John Pope on Vimeo.

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By Konbini Staff, published on 05/10/2016