Sex robots have been out of the news for a little while it seems, but a couple of days ago there was a new flurry of mainstream media excitement at the warning given by a ‘legal expert’ that sexbots could pose a risk of crushing men’s private parts. The source is actually an associate professor of Law at the University of Minesota (Francis X. Shen), writing a lengthy piece on the need for lawmakers to catch up with the arrival of sexrobots, and published in the intellectual online magazine ‘The Conversation’.
Although it’s quite a relatively measured piece, as I’ve argued here recently, the sexbots are definitely not here, nor are they likely to arrive anytime soon. Contrary to what the law professor argues, we do not need to rush into laws regulating sex robots before the public has even understood them. Given their present weight and clunkiness, sex dolls that can ‘talk’ like Siri or Amazon Echo, and that are passed off as sex robots, certainly present a danger of crushing men’s private parts and just about every other part of a man’s (or woman’s) anatomy. A while ago, there were fears raised that sex robots might go rogue and kill their owners, or even be hacked and used as murder weapons by another person. If this is what the writer is talking about, we’re years away from such problems. Other than that, health and safety issues of sex robots at present pose no more issues than sex dolls or other sex toys.
Unlike sex toys and dolls, which are typically sold in off-the-radar shops and hidden in closets, sexbots may become mainstream. A 2017 survey suggested almost half of Americans think that having sex with robots will become a common practice within 50 years.
As a scholar of artificial intelligence, neuroscience and the law, I’m interested in the legal and policy questions that sex robots pose. How do we ensure they are safe? How will intimacy with a sex robot affect the human brain? Would sex with a childlike robot be ethical? And what exactly is a sexbot anyway?
For a more sensational summary of the article, see https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/19/sex-robots-will-end-crushing-vital-parts-mens-bodies-experts-warn-8673331/