Two European ethicists are in the news for their campaign to halt the development of sex robots, which they say degrades women and could lead to an increase in human trafficking.
“We take issue with those arguments that propose that sex robots could help reduce sexual exploitation and violence towards prostituted persons, pointing to all the evidence that shows how technology and the sex trade coexist and reinforce each other creating more demand for human bodies,” reads a statement on the group’s website.
Not everyone agrees that sex robots will be bad for humanity. David Levy, the author of Love and Sex with Robots, says that human relationships with robots will soon be commonplace, and that’s not a bad thing.
“There is an increasing number of people who find it difficult to form relationships and this will fill a void. It is not demeaning to women any more than vibrators are demeaning,” he told the BBC.
Which, really, is an interesting question. When does a sex toy become a sex bot? How many human parts and features must it have before we start to worry about the moral implications?
New Jersey-based sex bot maker True Companion bills its $7,000 Roxxxy doll as the world’s first sex robot. The website also lists a male version called the Rocky. The company founder, unsurprisingly, also agrees that sex bots are good for humanity: “Roxxxy provides physical and sexual pleasure but also provides social interaction and engagement,” Douglas Hines told CNBC. “It’s customizing technology to provide a perfect partner — she’s not meant to replace a real partner but is meant as a supplement,” he said.
It’s worth pointing out that feminist sects are highly divided on the question of prostitution. Some argue that a man buying access to a woman’s body is always violent and abusive, while others say that position strips women of their agency and ignores the experiences of women who see sex work as legitimate work. The ethicists arguing for a sex robot ban align themselves with groups that call for the wholesale abolishment of prostitution.
If there’s anything that’s going to make you squeamish about the idea of getting it on with fembots, though, it’s this video of Roxxxy inventor Hines “pleasuring” the latest model. Definitely not safe for work, or for while you’re eating. Shudder.