“This is perhaps the closest I’ve got to one of my own ideas: that of a sex duvet made from soft and strokeable fabric that vocally rumbles as it is touched and that curls around me as I sink into it. My sex robot will be changeable at a whim: perhaps one day a bed made of breasts; another day, a series of vibrating and moving penises that talk dirty to me. Maybe sometimes both. Because that’s the joy of adaptable, personalisable sex robots that aren’t human, that aren’t gendered – they can just be what feels good at a particular time.” – Kate Devlin, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our robots in 2018 aren’t quite at ‘Westworld’ standard yet. A couple of articles recently about sex robots and consent have led me to wonder if some people genuinely think our tech is advanced enough to create sentient humanoids, capable of a full range of emotions and thoughts. But even though sex robots can’t actually feel anything, should they be programmed to pretend? Specifically: can – and should – sex robots withdraw consent?
There are lots of fascinating ethical questions surrounding the production of humanoid sex robots, not least the question of what kind of consent you’d need from someone in order to use their voice, face, or body when you produce a silicone replicant. But I want to state it here and now that I’d love to live on as a sex robot.
Yesterday, Deborah Orr wrote in the Guardian about ‘creepy’ sex robots. She began with a statement from Noel Sharkey – a robotics professor at Sheffield Uni – who earlier in the week had terrified people by claiming that one day people might lose their virginities to robots. Shock! Horror! Misery! Woe! Another way to perpetuate the myth of virginity as a valuable jewel which people must save to give to someone special!
Deborah questioned this, which is good, but she then launched in to a lot of the same disappointing fearmongering about sex tech that I’ve seen before. Let’s have a look. And then a rant.
Morning boners on a Monday morning? I’m spoiling you. Here’s two things for this week, which includes an ace blog about morning boners, a romantic artificial intelligence engine, and a chance to be interviewed about your sex life. I realise this is rapidly expanding into ‘more than two things’, which I hope you’ll see as a bonus rather than a flagrant disregard for my self-imposed brief. Here we go…