Robots and Sex Dolls: Are Human Relationships Threatened? (Part III)

Technological advances can spread fear and concern in the population, especially when it’s over a question of sexuality.

In 1867, the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal recommended that seamstresses take potassium bromide – a substance with sedative and anti-aphrodisiac properties – so that they would not feel amorous when pedalling their sewing machines. The arrival of the telegraph also fed fears that young women would come in contact with inappropriate partners, or strangers with bad intentions.

Today, it’s robots and sex dolls, in their new technological versions, that are fuelling ethical debates on technology.

By Mélodie Nelson

For bioethicist Nancy S. Jecker, interviewed by Vice, dolls and robots should be more egalitarian. She understands that they are targeted at young heterosexual men. But she sees a need to reimagine these products for women, the elderly, the disabled, and those with a more marginal sexuality.

“Older people are less agile, have more porous bones and less muscle mass. For these reasons, it’s important that manufacturers create sex robots that minimize the risk of injury.” She argues that the makers of sex toys should be more inclusive in general.

Technology allows those who are psychologically or physically limited to explore their sexuality in a secure environment, according to a 2020 study entitled Sex care robots,” published in the journal Paladyn, the Journal of Behavioral Robotics.

Robots such as Rocky or Roxxxy can imitate sexual movements (up and down), which means that the user doesn’t have to move. Some dolls and robots can actually satisfy intimacy needs that go beyond pure sexual needs. Emma reacts to the touch, and its body heats up when in contact with a person.

Researchers Fosh-Villaronga and Poulsen argue that women with a disability need to be kissed to feel good. The Realldoox models can imitate passionate kisses. “Robots can represent both emotional support and sexual accompaniment,” say the researchers.

Despite all the sniping, sex robots are becoming more and more accepted in society. Their purchase democratizes, and homosexual men and women participate more and more in this intimate technological exploration.

So, sex robots: A threat, or social progress?

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 29, no. 4, mai (May) 2021, pages 22 – 23.

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