Motherboard: Many working in the fields of AI and robotics say a future of sexbots is inevitable—and even preferable to human prostitution. What are some of the advantages of sexbots over human prostitutes?

John Danaher: There are several potential advantages of realistic sexbots over human beings. In my paper, I break them down into four categories. First, sexbots might have legal advantages over humans. In many countries prostitution and its related activities (e.g. advertising, creation of brothels) are illegal. Consequently, sex workers and their clients risk legal liability every time they engage in a transaction. At present, sexbots do not face the same kinds of legal restrictions. That said, this advantage may be temporary. Many Western countries have liberalised their prostitution laws, and as the sexbot industry grows we can expect greater legal regulation and control of it.

Another advantage of sexbots over humans might be in relation to moral and social attitudes. Many people worry about the ethical aspects of human prostitution. Those worries may not arise when it comes to sexbots (though this depends on whether robots can have moral status). A third advantage could be in relation to the risks of contracting a disease. Sexual contact between human beings can, of course, carry the risk of contracting an STD. Provided there is proper sanitation, this risk can be minimised in the case of sexbots. A final advantage of sexbots could be their flexibility and ease of production. Sexbots could be programmed to cater to the demands of their users, they could be produced en masse and, like other industrial robots, they could work tirelessly for no pay.

I should enter two caveats about all these alleged advantages. The first is that it’s not clear that these advantages would be sufficient to render human prostitutes obsolete: humans may have other advantages over robots that allow them to be competitive. The second is that these advantages relate to “realistic” robots, by which I mean “realistically human-like.” Another possible advantage of robots over humans is that they could do things that no human being could do, make possible new non-human types of sexual experience. That’s something that many futurists and transhumanists are keen on. 1

Rêves doux

Show 1 footnote

  1. The full article (NOT tl;dr, we promise) offers more insight into the inevitable reality of sexbots. However it appears that Danaher shows a bias toward their ubiquity. We believe that while certain certain cultures — Japan and Germany slink to mind — will be early and enthusiatic adaptors, the more rabid among ‘murika’s H. Monastic will attempt to at least stigmatize sexbots (because…only 7 billion people exist: make more babies!) if they don’t somehow manage to convince the congress critters to outlaw any sort of physical relations with them.

Something to say...?