The Campaign Against Sex Robots sounds like a funny idea — but when you see the potential for human-rights violations down the road, you’ll have an “a-ha” moment.
According to NBC News, one of the campaign’s creators, Kathleen Richardson, a robot anthropologist and ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, says that developing robots for sexual purposes can be “harmful and contribute to inequalities in society.”
“When I first started looking into the subject I thought, ‘Oh sex robots, that’s harmless and perhaps these robots would reduce demand for real women and children,’” Richardson told CNBC.
“But then as I researched the subject more I found that the opposite was true — that rather than reduce the objectification of women, children and also men and transgender people, these robots would contribute and reinforce their position in society [as objects].”
Richardson also added that access to technology — and the expensive sex robots (prices start around $7K and easily escalate from there) — only further divides the classes.
“Technology is not neutral,” Richardson toldthe Washington Post. “It’s informed by class, race and gender. Political power informs the development of technology. That’s why we can do something about it. These robots will contribute to more sexual exploitation.”
Richardson has written a research paper on the topic you can find here. She is joined by Erik Billing of the University of Skövde in Sweden in her Campaign.
Billing told CNBC that one of his concerns is that sex robots will contribute to the growing trend of living in greater isolation and lack of human contact. “Introducing sex robots that could replace partners is the extreme of this trend, where we start to objectify our human relationships,” he said.
Companies are rushing to get out the sex robots, including Real Doll, which theNew York Times profiled in a video not too long ago (totally NSFW btw). Another competitor in the market is True Companion.
Already, big names in tech and science, like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have warned us against the development of artificial intelligence for destructive purposes, most recently in the global arms race. And films, like this year’s Ex Machina, looked into technologists using AI for some questionable practices, including sex.