Experts Issue Warnings About The "Dark Side" Of Sex Robots

We're all for positive sexual expression. Seriously, we love exploring new sexual positions, kink, and sex toys — even blow-up sex dolls, if that's what you're into.
But when Noel Sharkey, PhD, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, issued warnings about the "dark side" of Artificial Intelligence (AI) sex robots, we had to take note.
Advertisement
Sharkey is a co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) along with Aimee van Wynsberghe. A new report from the foundation explores what could happen with these sex robots in the future — and warns that they could actually be dangerous because they are so realistic.
Sex robots could encourage sexual objectification of women, the report says. And the Mirror reports that Sharkey also worries these robots could "encourage abuse, rape, and paedophilia."
Looking through the @abyssrealdoll Instagram account — run by the Real Doll company, which makes arguably the most well-known sex robot — it's pretty clear why objectification would be a concern. While there are a few dolls made to look like men, the majority look like white women and are created with slim waists and gigantic breasts (what the FRR calls "pornographic body representation").

Who would you choose?

A post shared by RealDoll (@abyssrealdoll) on

Advertisement
However, some experts cited in the FRR report actually believe the dolls could help reduce instances of sexual assault if would-be attackers were able to act out their fantasies (including paedophilia) on a robot instead of a real person.
According to the report, there is a sex robot company in Japan that has been selling childlike dolls for more than a decade in an effort to curb sexual assault against children. The company, Trottla, is run by a self-identified paedophile who wanted to help others like him avoid offending, Sharkey told the Mirror.
“We should accept that there is no way to change someone’s fetishes,” the owner of Trottla, Shin Takagi, told the Atlantic in 2016. “I am helping people express their desires legally and ethically."
Paedophilia is considered a sexual disorder because it "causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others," according to the report. For some people, thoughts about paedophilia and anxiety around those thoughts stem from a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
But there's no conclusive evidence proving that sex robots could help people avoid acting on those thoughts. And research into whether or not sex robots help in this regard would be unethical, the report says.
Plus, some experts cited in the report said that dolls like this could actually reinforce sexual disorders like paedophilia and make it more likely for someone to want to act them out on real people. Sharkey, for one, seems to be on the side of this group, saying that there should be an "import ban" on childlike sex robots, the Mirror reports.
For now, sex robots that look like children have been made illegal in Canada, but the legality of the dolls is still up for debate in the US.
Advertisement