How ethical is it to use silicon dolls?

Originally published in TEHELKA

sex-dolls-wit-artificial-intelligence – You can download the PDF to read offline.

Meet Dr. Kathleen Richardson.
She is a ‘Reader’ and senior research fellow in ethics and culture of robots and Artificial intelligence in De Montfort University Leicester. She is also one of the most vocal campaigners against sex robots. Being one of the many activists who have launched full scale scathing attacks against using silicon dolls – with customizable labia and hips; she has made her points stronger by comparing it with ‘owning slaves’. But, at the end of the day, who is listening to her? At least, not the male chauvinists. They are ready to spend fifteen thousand dollar for a sex doll which is ready to adopt fifty nine positions.

The race has been on to make a perfect sex doll and the competition between the companies is cut-throat, they are working as fast as possible to achieve the goal. Using one of the most difficult technological fields of research – the artificial intelligence – they have been trying to outshine one another. This silicon doll will not only make love with the owner but will also act as he wishes. Suppose the owner is in a mood to force his way. ‘Rape’ is the perfect word to match his mood! No problem, the sex-machine performs as a ‘frigid’ woman to make ‘robotic rape’ possible. The in-built artificial intelligence will make the pleasure doll 24 by 7 ready for all types of hedonistic pleasure one can imagine. Don’t ask whether using a sex robot for your selfish desideration is unethical or not. The research is on to make the ‘sex dolls’ look and behave more ‘real’ and ‘intelligent’ and the companies have succeeded to some extent.
Welcome to the age of silicon sex!
There is a different view of course. The Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) has claimed something else – the curative powers of sex dolls. Their take: sex robots could soon be used to help elderly men in care homes who hardly find true partners. Dating seems to be impossible in that stage of life but the abnormal or morbid desire has not left the soul. So the answer is sex doll. It might also help couples enjoy long distances sexual relationships. The sex doll will act as an interface between your distant girl friend and you. By downloading an app she could perform her sexual act through the doll.
Is it really bad? Unethical? The takers ask as they have started using it.
Companion robots in hospital or in care home might have been a good option to assuage loneliness. There is another bleak possibility also: the battery of the sex doll might fail at the peak of owner’s orgasmic bliss and the artificial-girl suddenly collapses. A little failure in algorithm and instead of giving the sex-massage the sex-robot might wrongly hit him hard in the pleasure point. He has to take those risks. After all every path-breaking innovation involves risks.
No joking or mocking. Let’s try to understand the dilemma from another angle.
There is no doubt that internet is one of the most powerful tools at present and sex has been a great motivator behind this sudden surge and it still helps internet grow like an omnipotent monster. Online pornography has pushed the limit. Otherwise, experts feel, internet could have stayed limited to military technologists, few geeks and academics.
But in reality it didn’t cease to stop. The great force of sex has been staying as the greatest motivator behind the video streaming, online financial transaction, more bandwidth and it still stays that way pushing for machine learning now. We can’t deny the fact: sex gives internet more business than any other online activities.
But the problem is: it has reached the ceiling. So it’s looking forward for more innovation and opts for Artificial intelligence (AI) ultimately. When a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that we associate with other human-minds they are called artificial intelligence. Covering one of the most difficult parts of technological inventions it’s really ‘difficult and challenging’ to make a machine “learn” and “solve problems”. It’s not at all an easy task to make a human being think logically. For a machine it seems almost impossible. It’s one of the greatest challenges of technology to mimic “cognitive” functions.
Sex dolls are machines – nothing else. So it was difficult too in the beginning. But now it moves forward with the compelling and unceasing desire for more pleasure.
Now the question is: should we use our best brains to make a silicon doll ‘learn’ how to behave properly when a rapist turns on the tap of his darkest lust? It seems unfortunate when we compare the real possibilities of artificial intelligence. When it could have focused on much bigger facts of humanity by assisting global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, protecting the environment, it actually helps men unleash his pinning for more sex. And to support their claims the users argue: this is curative. This is remedial.
No, this is unfortunate.
What we’ve seen in recent time? In only ten years sex-tech industry has been estimated to be massive worth of thirty billion dollar. A recent report has claimed: it’ll have gone past 120 billion dollar by 2019. A massive compound growth is waiting in the pipeline. Another report has found that up to two thirds of men and about 30 per cent of women are in favor of using sex robots.
Doll brothels already operate in South Korea, Japan and Spain. The first robotic oral sex coffee shop has opened in Paddington, west London recently. Without bits and pieces of artificial intelligence it could not have been possible. We’re progressing in that direction – too rapidly while globally 3 billion people live in poverty. That is sheer shame!
But the marketers have thought about them!
Now the race is on to make the price of sex-doll as low as possible so that every man could have at least one. They currently cost between eight thousand and fifteen thousand dollar a piece and can be customized by sex, height, hair color, eye color, pubic hair color, size and shape of labia and even personality. They can talk, they can moan and they don’t protest when you rape it. A dreamy sex slave indeed! The price-war is also on! You’ll get the discount, ‘Puja-sale’ and ‘Christmas-bonanza’ in future.
Think about the Japanese sex doll manufacturer Trottla. It has already started selling underage schoolgirl dolls for pedophiles. A self-confessed pedophile Shin Takagi created the company and he claimed that he had never harmed a child because he used the intelligent little sex-doll. Hearing this bold confession the disgust is so strong it makes a certain sensible section of society sick and a country like US has been forced by the public opinion to ban the company.
The ubiquitous question is: can sex-robots replace relationships with human beings? Is it okay to make abusive love to a robot? Will it really cure the rapists completely? Can this really treat racism if one lets a racist abuse a black or brown robot? Does it really have a therapeutic effect or everything is just a strategy of marketing? A gimmick?
Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov asserted three laws of Robotics. The first one said: “a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The idea of intelligent sex-doll is violating the first law. No one can specify whether sex with robots has the potential to be emotionally and psychologically destroying and demolishing.
Winding back to twenty years, the smart phones were not in our dreams. In ten years will sex robots completely replace mobile pornography? Will there be more rapists? Will there be more pedophiles? Appetite for more sex comes with more variety of silicon robots seems to be the future. It’s like the French proverb that says, ‘appetite comes with eating’. Will the human race be more sex-starved searching for supplementary inhuman alternatives for more sex?
Blow-up dolls are now outmoded ideas – a passé. Sex Robots are here. Whatever moral dilemma it poses, it’s now reality and we have to face it.
May be, we need more Dr. Kathleen Richardson now before the irrevocable mass-loss-of-sanity.

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