Based on the amount of interest in my previous article, and conversations I’ve had or seen in the interim, I thought it was necessary to go back to sex, robots, and ethics.
Writing about sex robots, seeing the release of Roxxxy by True Companion, LLC, and having several discussions with friends made me think more about the intrigue in AI sex robots. What is it about them that are so fascinating and keeps drawing me back in? What does this have to do with the ethical examination of the use of sex technology? What are the trends and what this says about our societal preferences?
Well, it has to do with how we treat these “tools.” I realize that this topic seems cheap to discuss and people have problems with it. Compared to global warming, it seems like a trash throwaway topic compared to what my peers are addressing. However, unless we completely move away from our sexuality as Ben Goertzel proposes in Sexuality and Beyond, it is something that people need to examine seriously.
Roxxxy Doll Image from True Companion’s Gallery
Sex dolls are intriguing and they seem to be elevated above the level of just your average toy. After mulling it over, it seems that the sticking point is in the face. There is something about the face that seems to completely change the game. We have created this doll in our image to satisfy our desires of sex and companionship. This doll creates an ethical dilemma around how to treat it and incorporate it in the bedroom.
I go back to the film AI: Artificial Intelligence and Jude Law’s character as a gigolo. Sure, we aren’t at the point where these sex robots can get up and walk out of our house, that is another issue. But we are now to the point where we can keep these types of robots in our homes if you’re willing to pay for them. Yet, it doesn’t seem that you would want to put them up on a shelf in your closet when they are not in use like your other sex toys, does it?
In my previous post, there was a comment made about enslavement. That struck a chord with me. These sex toys are created for our needs just like a vacuum cleaner, but they are more intimate than a vacuum cleaner. They look like us, sexier, but they look like us. They have no rights, but to please us and sit in our closet or on a chair. People are free to treat them as they like in the privacy of their own homes. But I ask, just because they are vacant behind their eyes, is it okay to just treat them as you like, as sex slaves?
What are we teaching western society in accepting a robot in to their home that is not their equal and calling it nothing more than a tool? I know, I know! It has no feeling, no emotion, it is not a person. But we are creating it in our image and treating it like a soulless sex slave. So it has all the qualities of a woman we want to have sex with, besides the actual personhood. This just seems a bit, wrong in my opinion.
Maybe this all stems from a childhood where I watched The Brave Little Toaster, The Christmas Toy, Toy Story and the like. I can get over the fact that my toaster doesn’t come to life at night and desire adventures with my vacuum cleaner and desk lamp. There is no face to these objects, no way to see myself in their place. I can put on a lamp shade, but it doesn’t make me feel like a lamp. However, I can identify with this sex doll, she looks like someone, she acts like someone, she just isn’t someone.
I think that going forward, the use of robotics in the home that emulate us is going to bring up a lot of ethical issues that I look forward to discussing. It’s not cheap to talk about the sex dolls or irrelevant, they just happen to be the industry that got attention in the western world first. The porn industry gave us a choice of VCR versus beta, now they gave us this. What are we going to do with it and how are we going to set the stage for the next better version of Blu-Ray sex dolls?
Kristi Scott M.A. is an IEET Affiliate Scholar. Her work centers on the way popular culture presents issues of identity, body modification, cosmetic surgery, and emerging technologies. She has been a freelance writer since 2003 writing for a variety of magazines over the years, most recently as a writer and copy-editor for h+ magazine.
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