Sexbots And Sexism

Leah Reich considers how sex robots could alter human relationships – or keep them trapped in the strictures of the past:

Perhaps the best-known work on intimate relationships with robots is by the British author, chessmaster, and CEO of Intelligent Toys Ltd, David Levy. Most of the discussion regarding the ethics of robot sex centers on his article ‘The Ethics of Robot Prostitutes’ from Robot Ethics (2011), wherein he separates types of sexbots according to their sophistication. Levy argues that as long as sexbots are artifacts, without ‘artificial consciousness,’ there are no ethical implications in having sex with them or using them for prostitution. …

But even if sexbots are not currently conscious, they do have the external markings of personhood, and we are programming them to be person-like. Indeed, we are programming them to be like a specific type of person: the type of woman who can be owned by a heterosexual man. If women are the model on which most sexbots are based, we run the risk of recreating essentialized gender roles, especially around sex. And that would be too bad, because sex technology has the potential to alleviate longstanding human problems, for both men and women. Sex tech can help us take on sexual dysfunction and profound loneliness, but if we simply create a new variety of second-class citizen, a sexual creature to be owned, we risk alienating ourselves from each other all over again.

In other high-tech sex news, Victoria Turk investigates “the DIY side of the 3D-printed sex toy revolution”:

The descriptively named ‘Dildo Generator’ lets you tweak a phallic model until it fits your preferences just so, ready to be saved and exported so the 3D file of your fantasy can be forever solidified in silicone. I reached out to Ikaros Kappler, the Berlin-based programmer behind the project, to ask why. Fittingly, the idea came to him while he was hanging out with friends, drinking beer, and listening to techno at a maker space. “It was the aim to print something more useful instead of printing small figurines to put on your windowsill,” he told me over email. He also wanted to explore the new features of HTML5. “Oh, and I love Bézier curves!” he added. Those are the curves you can make by adjusting points at either end on a computer model, always resulting in a nice smooth finish. Pretty important to dildo design, I guess.

Previous Dish on futuristic fornication here.