June 04, 2018
Sex robots are unlikely to solve loneliness or reduce sex crimes, NHS doctors say.
Sex robots won’t solve loneliness nor curb violence against women, doctors say
The booming sex technology industry has seen the devices sold for more than £10,000 each, with speculation they could provide “companionship”.
But writing in BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, medics said there was no evidence to back up such claims - nor to support speculation they could stop sex crimes.
Dr Chantal Cox-George at St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor Susan Bewley, women's Health Academic Centre, King's College London, trawled the research base on sexbots.
While they found much debate about their merits and risks, they said they could find no research at all on their health implications.
The London medics said the idea that the sexbots could provide “companionship” was patronising and “requires a change in meaning of ‘companion’ from a living, interacting person.”
The use of such devices could worsen loneliness, they suggested.
“It remains unproven that intimacy ‘needs’ will be satisfied: there could be worsened distress,” the medics write. “While a human may genuinely desire a sexbot, reciprocation can only be artificially mimicked.”
"The overwhelming predominant market for sexbots will be unrelated to healthcare,” the reproductive health medics write.
"Thus the 'health' arguments made for their benefits, as with so many advertised products, are rather specious,” the pair write.
They also said the idea that sexbots could reduce sexual violence against women and children appeared “optimistic” - warning they could drive further exploitation.
"Some people envision a future with no sex trafficking, sex tourism or sex trade,” the editorial says. "One hypothetical future red-light district has been described where the spread of sexually transmitted infections is prevented by providing robotic prostitutes made of bacteria-resistant fibre, flushed for human fluids after use. This well-intentioned scenario is optimistic,” they write.
"It is speculative whether the development of a sexbot marketplace will lead to lesser risk of violence and infections, or drive further exploitation of human sexworkers."
And they said the use of such devices could permeate “blurred boundaries” about consent.
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