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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday September 29 2019, @01:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the johnson-and-not-johnson dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

In recent years, sex dolls have become increasing sophisticated and realistic in their resemblance to human beings, including mechanized components, and are thus now referred to as humanoid sex robots. Some media outlets have gone as far as to suggest that sex robots and other social robots will eventually become almost indistinguishable from humans.

This has sparked a number of interesting ethical and philosophical debates related to the significance of these robots and the possibility that future machines will replicate the physical intimacy between two people. In a recent study featured in Springer's International Journal of Social Robotics, two researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Bergamo in Italy have taken a closer look at some of the current arguments and predictions about sex robots, carrying out an ethics-based and critical discourse analysis.

"We started our joint research to debunk some myths and misunderstandings in the media regarding the future of artificial intelligence," Deborah Johnson and Mario Verdicchio, the two researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. "We were struck by how fundamentally flawed some of the ideas were and especially the assumption that the computational version of some aspects of reality are the same as the real thing."

In their paper, Johnson and Verdicchio essentially challenge the perception of humanoid sex robots as robotic substitutes of lovers and companions. They argue that although humanoid robots may look and act more and more like human beings in the future, the claim that they will eventually replace humans is far-fetched and far from a certainty.

"Our research is aimed at showing that humanoid sex robots could come to be understood in ways that keep their status as machines, albeit technologically very sophisticated machines." Johnson and Verdicchio said.

Deborah G. Johnson et al. Constructing the Meaning of Humanoid Sex Robots, International Journal of Social Robotics (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s12369-019-00586-z


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  • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:35PM (3 children)

    by Nuke (3162) on Sunday September 29 2019, @06:35PM (#900457)

    The only people who could have a moral issue with sexbots, are those who view masturbation as a sin.

    That's a text book example of assuming other people's motives. The real moral issue is that dolls might become a complete substitute for romantic interaction with others, with all the social consequences including practical ones. Masturbation was never much of a threat to that, more like a stop-gap. Whether dolls would ever become a complete substitute, it is too early to tell and that is what most of the debate is about. No doubt there are some fringe groups who see it as sinful but that is not the main debate and you are the first person here to mention sin.

    I'm on the fence myself. I'd rather men and women became more conciliatory to each other IRL than they have become lately, especially in the West. Romantic interaction is already something denied to millions of people for one reason or another. Otherwise dolls may be the way to go.

    Secondly, it would be just as easy to make a male version as a female version

    Catch up, there are male dolls already.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30 2019, @12:45AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30 2019, @12:45AM (#900631)

    Have you read Richard Feynman's book "Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman" ?
    He has a section in there where a streetwise couple he meets teach him how to pick up women. Very enlightening with regards to current social problems if you stop and really think about it. People haven't evolved in 50 years even if culture has.

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday September 30 2019, @07:19PM (1 child)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday September 30 2019, @07:19PM (#900941) Journal

    The real moral issue is that dolls might become a complete substitute for romantic interaction with others, with all the social consequences including practical ones. Masturbation was never much of a threat to that, more like a stop-gap. Whether dolls would ever become a complete substitute, it is too early to tell and that is what most of the debate is about.

    So what? They want to criminalize men for *not* wanting to have sex with women? Is that what they are seriously proposing? Because that is what sex bots are for men who might choose to use one instead of dealing with a real woman. If that's the path they want to go down, then they must instantly jail every woman who owns or has ever used a dildo or penis-shaped vibrator to simulate sex with a man (and not even a full representation of a man, BTW, but a highly objectified genital object).

    No, this entire thing is not about logic or law or morality but about power. Feminists and others are losing their minds over it because it means they are about to lose their main tool for gaining and keeping power: sex. What really scares them is that men might be on the verge of their own sexual liberation, of getting what they want, how they want, whenever they want, without a real woman being involved or having any say in it whatsoever. That cannot be allowed!

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday September 30 2019, @08:22PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday September 30 2019, @08:22PM (#900978) Journal

      It could be argued that governments have an interest in compelling reproduction for economic or military reasons. Several countries are attempting to raise birth rates [citylab.com], most notably South Korea, Japan, and China [cnn.com]. If the situation was serious enough, you could see restrictions on sex robots, gay relationships. etc.

      However, while sex robots are a start, artificial wombs are the finisher. Along with synthetic eggs/embryos, they will eventually allow gay men or lesbian women to have children without a biological mother/father [nationalgeographic.com], or a lone individual could create a child with downloadable custom DNA. If birth rates are too low to sustain the economy or military*, governments could just create "orphans" from scratch, a wild turn of events. Artificial wombs probably won't take off until they can be proven to be safer than female wombs, but we can predict some safety benefits: likely the complete elimination of premature births (see causes [healthline.com]), and a reduction of environmental risk factors (the artificial womb won't smoke, drink alcohol, get stressed [npr.org], inhale car exhaust, etc).

      Sex robots take some power away from women, maybe an exaggerated amount. It's the artificial womb that will really hit hard.

      *Or we could see less personnel and more killer robots in the military. But foot soldiers are resistant to hacking, EMPs, etc.

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