Sex robots could make us lonely and unable to form relationships with other humans, report says

  • Sex robots are unlikely to prevent sex crimes like rape and pedophilia, according to a report by robotics experts.
  • The paper by Responsible Robotics called “Our Sexual Future With Robots” discusses the impact sex robots could have on society.
  • Sex robots could increase isolation and prevent humans forming relationships with each other, the authors of the paper warn.

Sex robot Roxxxy, made by True Companion

True Companion
Sex robot Roxxxy, made by True Companion

Sex robots will be unlikely to prevent sex crimes like rape and pedophilia and could actually “reinforce illicit sexual practices,” according to a wide-ranging report that tackles the future of machines in relationships.

The paper, called “Our Sexual Future With Robots” by the nonprofit organization Responsible Robotics, highlights the impact these machines could have on society.

One section focuses on the minority of voices that suggest sex robots could help prevent sex crimes. The report references Shin Takagi who founded Trottla, a company making child sex dolls. Takagi says this could help people prevent people abusing kids.

“I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It’s not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire,” Takagi said in a 2016 interview with The Atlantic.

But the authors from Responsible Robotics cast doubt over whether such dolls could help stop pedophiles and rapists.

Humanoid robots made by Japan's telecom giant Softbank.

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“When we look at the question of whether or not sex robots could help to prevent sex crimes, there is major disagreement. On one side there are those who believe that expressing disordered or criminal sexual desires with a sex robot would satiate them to the point where they would not have the desire to harm fellow humans,” the report said.

“Many others believe that this would be an indulgence that could encourage and reinforce illicit sexual practices. This may work for a few but it is a very dangerous path to tread. It may be that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with sex robots could have a pernicious effect on society and societal norms and create more danger for the vulnerable.”

One issue, of course, is finding a group to test this theory. Another unknown is how to make a robot simulate rape.

Robot sex brothels?

The paper also addressed the impact that sex robots could have on prostitution. Lumidolls recently opened Europe’s first robotic sex brothel in Barcelona, Spain, but faced opposition from sex workers and in February was forced to move. While the theme of robots taking jobs appears to be hitting most industries, the researchers of the paper found no evidence that robot brothels would be widespread.

“We have found no indications that robots will end prostitution or sex trafficking in our investigation or in the surveys. It seems unlikely given what sex workers say about the needs of their clients for human character and intimacy. Many clients still want the pretense of a relationship,” the authors said.

Social isolation?

The entrance of sex robots into society could also pose challenges as to how we interact with people and form relationships.

Robots are only going to get more life-like with improved artificial intelligence, sensors and voice, which could mean humans begin forming relationships with them. The authors suggest that sex robots are too new to know how people will relate to them, but there have been instances of people forming relationships with non-moving sex dolls.

“Although this means that some people would never be satisfied with a ‘relationship’ with a robot, it does not mean that other people would not,” the paper said.

At the same time, widespread use of sex robots could have a huge impact on the way people interact with each other and cause loneliness.

“Sex with robots could or will lead to social isolation. The reasons given varied: spending time in a robot relationship could create an inability to form human friendships; robot don’t meet the species specific needs of humans; sex robots could desensitize humans to intimacy and empathy, which can only be developed through experiencing human interaction and mutual consenting relationships; real sexual relationships could become overwhelming because relations with robots are easier,” the authors wrote.

Meet life-sized humanoid robot Mark 1

Meet life-sized humanoid robot Mark 1

Meet life-sized humanoid robot Mark 1