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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: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06 2018, @09:37PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06 2018, @09:37PM (#689568)

    Life-like underage stuff has been the topic of law for a long time, with places like the UK actually putting people in prison for underage rape cartoons and comic books.

    Well, places like the UK are insanely authoritarian, so this is no surprise. They don't care one bit about freedom of speech or freedom in general.

    Of course sex robots with the appearance of children shouldn't be banned, since they're not real children. Saying that this will somehow "cause" the people that have them to go out and rape real children is as insane as Jack Thompson arguing that violent video games make people violent. They have zero quality evidence to support anything they say, and they don't believe in personal responsibility.

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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday June 06 2018, @11:45PM (6 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday June 06 2018, @11:45PM (#689625)

    > Of course sex robots with the appearance of children shouldn't be banned, since they're not real children.
    > (...)
    > They have zero quality evidence to support anything they say, and they don't believe in personal responsibility.

    Not banned, but maybe registered?
    "look, we'd rather you take your impulses out on a kid-shaped piece of silicone and rubber, but since you are the kind of person who needs to discharge your impulses out on a kid-shaped piece of silicone and rubber, we'd like you to remember that we know that, in case you starting having issues getting your rocks off on just silicone and rubber."
    Most places register guns, just in case something bad happens...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:24AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:24AM (#689643)

      Not banned, but maybe registered?

      I don't see why being sexually attracted to something should cause you to be on some list. Just because someone is sexually attracted to a group of people does not mean that they also want to rape that group of people. A sexual attraction and a willingness to rape are two different things, because otherwise you could argue that anyone who experiences sexual attraction is a potential rapist and should therefore be on a list. It is technically true that anyone is a potential rapist in the sense that the possibility is non-zero, but no one makes a big deal out of that like they do with pedophiles. It's likely that people can't stay rational because of the 'ick factor'.

      And maybe using encryption should get you on a list, since bad guys use that too. It probably already does, but the fact that it gets you on a list needs to be made more official.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:51AM (3 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday June 07 2018, @12:51AM (#689651)

        which part of "kind of person who needs to discharge your impulses out on a kid-shaped piece of silicone and rubber" did not register with you ?
        Being sexually attracted is one thing, and there are plenty of harmless ways to cope with it. When you get to the point where you have to go beyond the amazingly diverse offerings of the porn industry, and into the icky territory of realistic children sex dolls, that puts you into the "potential danger" range in my book. I said I'd rather let it happen, with a requirement that you be known by the state that you need this (and maybe the need to be prescribed by a medical professional). It's a rational deterrent in exchange for a crutch.

        Encryption has plenty of very legitimate uses by everyone. Kiddie Real Dolls could be at most a treatment for people with problematic impulses. Terrible analogy.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 07 2018, @02:26AM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday June 07 2018, @02:26AM (#689685) Journal

          I was kidding when I asked if "pedobot" buyers should get added to a watchlist.

          It's no crime, and there should be no list. If need be they can just build it themselves and avoid the list.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @08:37AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @08:37AM (#689774)

          Being sexually attracted is one thing, and there are plenty of harmless ways to cope with it.

          The harmless ways tend to be banned.

          When you get to the point where you have to go beyond the amazingly diverse offerings of the porn industry

          Ah, I see the problem. For your information, child porn is among those things that are already banned, so no, there are no offerings of the (legal) porn industry.

          Because, unlike a piece of rubber, child porn is made from real children. So, while porn reduces rape, and thus child porn would reduce child rape, but looking at it from a numbers perspective (few child rapes is better than many) is frowned upon, so we outlaw child porn as well as child rape, even though that may result in pedos thinking "why download child porn, when it's just as illegal as a real child".

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @01:57AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08 2018, @01:57AM (#690155)

          which part of "kind of person who needs to discharge your impulses out on a kid-shaped piece of silicone and rubber" did not register with you ?

          The part where it's not an actual kid.

          Being sexually attracted is one thing, and there are plenty of harmless ways to cope with it.

          Such as having sex with a doll, which isn't a real person and harms no one. Having sex with a child-like doll does not mean you intend to rape a real child. If you are unable to tell the difference between a doll and a human being, the problem lies with you.

          that puts you into the "potential danger" range in my book.

          Anyone is a potential danger. There is a non-zero chance that you are a rapist or will be, and therefore are a "potential danger". If you're going to argue that the danger is more prevalent with people who have sex with these child-like robots, then provide quality evidence of that and specifically define how much danger is too much to ignore in the name of freedom.

          You can't justify putting people on government lists for being "potential dangers"; that is extremely authoritarian.

          It's a rational deterrent in exchange for a crutch.

          It's irrational and unjust, because it presumes that people are rapists or will be.

          Terrible analogy.

          No, it's a good analogy. Anyone could argue that anything should be banned by saying that some bad people "abuse" it, even if the vast majority of those who do use it do not do anything bad.

          In reality, though, there is zero evidence that this will somehow make non-rapists into rapists, so there are no valid objections here. You just feel that it's icky, so your authoritarian impulses are beginning to show.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @11:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07 2018, @11:30AM (#689816)

      That would have the opposite effect.

      "You need to register to get a too small piece of plastic, but you don't need to register to get access to the playground".