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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 06 2018, @04:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the positronic-incel dept.

Health researchers have published an editorial examining research related to the use of sex robots:

Science fiction aside, advanced sex robots are currently heating up the market, with several companies now offering more and more life-like artificial partners, mostly ones mimicking women. Skeptics fear the desirable droids could escalate misogyny and violence against women, ignite deviant urges in pedophiles, or further isolate the sexually frustrated. Sexbot makers, on the other hand, have been pumping their health claims into advertisements, including that the amorous androids could reduce the spread of sexually transmitted disease, aid in sex therapies, and curb deviant desires in pedophiles and other sex offenders.

So far, those claims are "rather specious," according to health researchers Chantal Cox-George of St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London and Susan Bewley of King's College London. In an editorial [DOI: 10.11336/bmjsrh-2017-200012] [DX] published Monday in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, the pair highlight that there are virtually no studies that help bang out the validity of the many health arguments surging around sexbots—arguments both for and against them.

That data dry-spell doesn't let doctors off the hook, though, Cox-George and Bewley write. They call for researchers to get busy setting up studies that will nail the answers. In the meantime, "an absence of evidence does not excuse the medical profession from discussing and debating the issues, as there will inevitably be consequences for physical, mental and social well-being."

Sex technology is already an estimated $30 billion industry, they note. At least four companies are now making adult female sexbots, costing $5,000 to $50,000, and at least one is making "pedobots." The mannequins come with variable ages, features, and even programmable personalities, along with customizable oral, vaginal, and anal openings. Male sexbots are said to be in the works.

An Australian forensic criminologist goes further, speculating that "pedobots" may be illegal down under (archive):

Sexbots, and that includes pedobots, have been developed to allow users to play out sexual fantasies. In the child sexual abuse cases I have worked on, you see an escalation in activity in some cases—from an offender sourcing online child sexual abuse material, to actively seeking a physical interaction with a child when the online material does not bring the same sexual gratification. Pedobots could easily fit into this continuum of escalation.

It's also worth highlighting that Australia's legal definition of child pornography (material that describes or depicts a person under 16 years of age, or who appears to be less than 16, in a manner that would offend a reasonable adult) does not capture all images or representations that someone with an interest in children may find sexually arousing. With no evidence to the contrary, my experience tells me that the sexualization of children—be that in cartoons, songs, robots, or whatever form—will increase the desires of some who find children attractive, and put more children at risk, not less.

[...] It remains debatable whether pedobots would fall under the category of child pornography. As the law stands, child pornography can be created without directly involving a real person—child sexual abuse material can include images, text, and three-dimensional objects. This would appear to include pedobots. However, the notion of a life-like child robot produced for the sexual gratification of adults, I would argue, would offend most reasonable adults.

Should a harmless activity (fooling around with a sex robot) be banned for its potential to cause "escalation"? Should "pedobot" buyers get added to a watchlist?

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Immerman on Wednesday June 06 2018, @07:55PM (3 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday June 06 2018, @07:55PM (#689510)

    I'm not sure I see the problem.

    Incels get a more emotionaly satisfying outlet than porn, and probably continue to not take responsibility for their own failings. But at least they're not creeping out on real women so hard.

    Many people decide sexbots are more convenient and/or satisfying that real lovers. Big deal - that just means real sex becomes more about having kids than pleasing each other. I really doubt the number of women who want kids is going to plummet. And if it does... let's revisit the problem in a few generations once the global population has fallen below 1 billion and thus solved most of our current challenges.

    As for relations between the sexes degrading - what makes you so sure? The "nobility" have been doing just fine keeping their "real" relationships, forged largely for business purposes, separate from their selfish pursuits with disposable peons.

    The whole idea that you should find a best friend, life partner, sexual playmate, etc. in one person is really a major historical anomaly only a few centuries old. Removing sex from the "significant features" of the marriage dynamic might very well improve the stability of the institution substantially.

    Can't say I'm personally fond of the pedo-bot idea - but I also don't see any harm in it, and potentially a lot of good. The existence of such bots is unlikely to increase the number of pedophiles, at least so long as society continues to frown on pedophilia, and the bots provide a harmless outlet for those impulses. Even the violent offenders, be they pedo or traditional rapists - every rapist who can be satisfied by an animatronic toy means several real people never have to be their victims. I don't see any down side other than the "ick factor" for normal people thinking about it. And frankly if they would rather real children were being raped than icky robots were being made... well I see no reason to respect the opinions of such monsters.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by takyon on Wednesday June 06 2018, @08:59PM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday June 06 2018, @08:59PM (#689548) Journal

    And frankly if they would rather real children were being raped than icky robots were being made... well I see no reason to respect the opinions of such monsters.

    Oh, shit... if you want to ban pedobots, you might be a pedophile!

    At least, that's what should be spammed on every other forum where this issue pops up.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06 2018, @09:52PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06 2018, @09:52PM (#689577)

      Only a small fraction of pedophiles (as opposed to child molesters) actually want to rape children to begin with. So maybe there are people who will be stopped from raping others because of this, but probably not a massive amount.

      • (Score: 2) by Arik on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:48AM

        by Arik (4543) on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:48AM (#689650) Journal
        "Only a small fraction of pedophiles (as opposed to child molesters) actually want to rape children to begin with. So maybe there are people who will be stopped from raping others because of this, but probably not a massive amount."

        Yes, I don't find unsubstantiated claims of a significant direct effect in either direction very credible. Likely as you say most people that would use this would have never been an actual threat to begin with, it might delay but probably not prevent a few who *were* otherwise destined to become a threat from doing so, and it might conceivably result in a few of the otherwise harmless ones 'escalating' when they would not have as well, but if either effect turns out to be real I predict it will be small.

        The bigger concern that I can see, and give some credence too, is the 'normalization' potentially involved. It shouldn't be - just because something is legal doesn't make it moral and any child should understand that, but it's a sad fact that they don't always and this worry is not entirely unfounded.

        It's certainly not a thing that should be advertised or mentioned in a place where children are expected to be, but somehow I have a feeling it's only going to be a few years before you see these displayed in store windows somewhere...
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?