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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: 4, Insightful) by Immerman on Monday September 30 2019, @01:32AM

    by Immerman (3985) on Monday September 30 2019, @01:32AM (#900643)

    > They'll be a handful of genuine relationships, a lot of rape

    How exactly can you have either with a machine? You can neither rape, nor have a relationship with your Fleshlight or Real Doll. I suppose some people claim to have a real relationship with their car/boat/airplane - but personally I'd say that while the emotional bond might be real, you can't actually have a one-way relationship.

    If we gave them true self awareness (a quality that seems no closer now than when R2D2 was first introduced), then that would change things - but why would you want to turn a tool into a slave? Morality aside - slaves have a tendency to rebel and take vengance on their masters when the opportunity presents itself. Making a tool that can potentially "think" orders of magnitude faster than you into a true thinking slave is one of those things that you'd be screaming at the stupidity of the idiots in the horror movie.

    As I see it, sexbots are going to be nothing more than a exploitation-free alternative to prostitutes. Human or robot, you probably don't care overmuch about your partner's feelings beyond whether they can put on a satisfying performance for your money. Probably servants as well - if your sexbot has a range of motion and adaptability sufficient to deliver a satisfying performance, it's probably also capable of washing dishes, doing laundry, dusting, etc., so why waste the potential unless servant-bots are dramatically cheaper?

    Sure, some people will get attached to their sexbot and convince themselves that it feels something back - but while that may be a little sad, it doesn't fundamentally change the ethics of the situation - it may even be the best option some of those poor sods can realistically hope for.

    What will likely change is the nature of "normal" relationships - if sexbots eventually get cheap enough that most people can afford one relatively easily (and if we include VR-based bots that's probably a lot closer than we might expect), then the "good-looking slave girl and strong young man"(at least) may quite possibly become the norm for a healthy marriage, which then has far more room to concern itself with the business of wealth- and family-building that were the centerpieces of traditional marriage before the Church and Romance movement got ahold of it.

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