Academics to discuss pros and cons of sex with robots

KUALA LUMPUR • Technological advancements are making sex with lifelike robots a possibility in the future, but critics argue that it will open a can of worms for the society ahead of a debate in conservative Malaysia to explore its merits and immoralities.

The international congress Love and Sex with Robots, which is in its second year, will take place on Nov 16 at the Black Box and White Box arts complex in the Mall of Medini near Legoland Malaysia Resort in Johor.

There, academics will discuss the legal, ethical and moral issues of bedding robots as well as topics, such as "teledildonics", or Internet-connected sex toys which virtually allow a couple to feel each other in real time.

A proponent of human-robot romance, Mr David Levy, who co-chairs the event with Adelaide-born Professor Adrian Cheok , told the news.com.au that sex with robots is a positive thing for the "millions and millions" of people around the world who do not have satisfactory relationships.

"If you have got a robot that looks like a human, feels like a human, behaves like a human, talks like a human, why shouldn't people find it appealing?" he said.

LIFELIKE ROBOTS

If you have got a robot that looks like a human, feels like a human, behaves like a human, talks like a human, why shouldn't people find it appealing?

AUTHOR DAVID LEVY, who is co-chair of the robots-for-sex congress

Mr Levy, author of a 2007 book Love And Sex And Robots, went further to say sophisticated robots could cure loneliness and even help paedophiles "wean" themselves off sex with children.

"It can't be long before we get to the point that there are robots looking very lifelike and with appealing designs that people find appealing to look at," said the chief executive of Intelligent Toys, a company that designs toys with artificial intelligence.

"And then it is a question of how long it will take before the artificial intelligence is developed to the point where they can carry on interesting and entertaining conversations?"

But Dr Kathleen Richardson, a campaigner against robots for sex, called Mr Levy's views a "terrifying nightmare" and expressed fears that widespread use of robots for sex will destroy human capacity for empathy and entrench notions of sex and gender already prevalent in the sex industry.

"Sex can never not be relational. You need another person. If it's not relational you're really masturbating," she was quoted as saying by news.com.au.

Last week, mobile phone giant SoftBank, which sells units of a chatty humanoid named Pepper in Japan, appealed to its customers in its user agreement not to engage in sex with the machine.

Pepper costs a cool US$1,600 (S$2,287).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'Academics to discuss pros and cons of sex with robots'. Print Edition | Subscribe