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 We need to talk about sex, robot experts say

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PostSubject: We need to talk about sex, robot experts say    Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:34 am

Move over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic "sextech" designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics said rapidly advancing technologies had already led to the creation of "android love dolls".

The increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report said, including whether the use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities.

The robots could soon be used to keep the elderly company in care homes and help couples enjoy long distance sexual relationships, it said.

Four manufacturers are making lifelike robotic dolls worldwide, but experts predict that in coming decades they could become widespread.

The robots, capable of performing up to 50 automated sexual positions, can be customised by sex, height, hair colour, eye colour and even personality, down to the nipple shape and pubic hair colour, and cost between 4000 ($6500) and 12,000.
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Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, in Britain, and co-founder of the FRR, said it was time for governments and the public to decide whether to regulate pleasure bots.

"I can tell you that robots are certainly coming," he said at the launch of the new consultation report in central London.

"The concern is that this is going on and nobody is talking about it. People snigger about them, but they are actually shipping quite a lot and we are going to see them a lot more.

"They are being proposed for the elderly in care homes, which I think is controversial.

"If you have severe Alzheimer's, you can't really tell the difference. We need to think, as a society, what we want to do about it."

The report found that up to two-thirds of men and about 30 per cent of women were in favour of using sex robots, which cost and can be customised

Companies are also starting to incorporate artificial intelligence so robots can communicate and respond to human emotions.

Doll brothels already operate in South Korea, Japan and Spain, while the first robotic oral sex coffee shop opened in Paddington, west London, last year.

The authors of the report said that, as robotics, telecommunications and virtual reality merged, a sex doll could be created that was a silicon replica of a long-distance partner, so that couples could have virtual sex and even speak to each other through the doll's mouth.

But they warned that the march of sex robots raised serious moral and ethical questions that needed to be addressed.

The report looks at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes.

It found "major disagreement" on this question, with some arguing that having sex with a robot would reduce attackers' desires to harm fellow humans, and others arguing that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms.

The authors said it might be necessary to criminalise "robotic rape" and to build in "handled roughly" sensors to prevent users from developing violent sexual tendencies.

And they called for a complete ban on child sex dolls.

They warned that users could become socially isolated or even addicted to the machines, which could never replace real human contact.

"Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?" Professor Sharkey asked at the launch on Tuesday.

"How would [sex with a robot] equate to a truly human intimate relationship?

"If people bond with robots it's very worrying. You are loving an artefact that can't love you back, and the best they can do is fake it," he said.

"Robots cannot feel love."
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