Cover photo San Diego Tribune/YouTube screenshot. 4 minute read.
“Maybe robot sex dolls will help solve the rape issue in this society. Maybe.”
“Sex robots will lessen the issue of sex trafficking in society.”
“Harassment and sex abuse will lessen if perpetrators have robots to take out their aggression on.”
A quick search through Twitter pulls up these arguments and more in support of sex robots. But are they based in anything but speculation?
The official answer is no, according to a recent report.
Researchers in the United Kingdom combed through medical journals for studies on the health effects of sex robots. Turns out, they found nothing—”no reports of primary data relating to health aspects of the use of sex robots,” as the paper put it. In other words, there is currently zero scientific evidence supporting the claim that healthy or societal benefits accompany sex robots.
To be fair, there’s likely a lack of data because sex robots have only recently become commercially available, and so far haven’t been flying off the shelves.
Why do people think bots could help society?
According to a report on the study by Mic, the idea that sex robots could be positive for society is inherently controversial.
Some believe it could limit sexual crimes of pedophiles by “redirecting dark desires” away from women or children, while others are concerned sex robots could perpetuate or reinforce rape culture. Others discuss how sex dolls and bots objectify women—making robots that are meant to mimic the female human form is a literal rendering of women into objects, after all. But none of those concerns have so far stopped sex bot engineers from developing what could be the next market hit in an already $30 billion sex technology industry.
Some have also speculated sex robots or human-like robots could have a therapeutic value for those who are lonely, disabled or elderly and for those confronting fear or trauma around sex. But again, none of those possibilities are currently backed up by research.
Sex dolls, however, have long gained traction on YouTube and porn sites.
Is using a robot for sex healthy?
Needless to say, the prospect of sex with robots is unquestionably something that has been influenced by the normalization of pornography in our society and represents new ways to justify the exploitation of human beings, if not in person, certainly in theory. And what a dangerous idea it is—normalizing the idea of having sex with something with no thoughts or feelings, that can’t voice unique desires.
Some think that the ethics of watching virtual reality porn—simulating sex acts with a fake, 3D person—are no different than the ethics of having sex with a robot. After all, people are constantly looking for new ways to “spice up” their sex lives. This is proven by the $15 billion dollar and growing sex toy industry, and now, it’s proven by a growing interest in lifelike sex dolls that will eventually be able to talk and respond to verbal commands.
Spain’s first sex doll brothel is just the first public example of the fast-growing trend of sex without intimacy with another person. Now, manufacturers around the world are working to create uncannily realistic sex robots programmed to fulfill the fantasies of people who want to get with a lifeless machine.
Replacement humans, fake intimacy
The whole idea of humanoids replacing real, intimate connections between real people is concerning to those who know the real scientific harms of pornography and that sex is healthiest and most fulfilling when it’s with a real person, not a robot. Robotic sex is even more concerning to those who understand the very real negative effects this could have on humans sexually and socially.
The truth is, we don’t have to wait until 2050. According to one report, about 27% of Millennials say they think it’ll be normal and acceptable in the near future to have friendships and romantic relationships with robots instead of humans. Crazy, right?
This is a reality that is gaining traction every day. As more people opt for yet another counterfeit to what real relationships and intimacy can offer, the effect of porn, sex robots and other forms of artificial love, will continue to harm individuals, relationships and society.
We can’t be okay with technology taking the place of real, healthy human relationships. Whether it’s a computer screen or a sex doll, we need to be educated and take a stand for healthy sexuality and human connection. Science, facts and personal accounts all agree that porn kills love, and that’s just not cool.
The key to remember is this: