NEWS AND VIEWS THAT IMPACT LIMITED CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT
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Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sex robots can save marriages
Science Worth Reading About
(The Star Vancouver) — “We don’t know what’s coming or if AI will destroy the world. But we do know that people will be having sex with robots.”
That is what the 18 authors of a new book delving into the intricacies of human-machine copulation believe is a given.
One predicts sex with robots will even salvage marriages.
Neil McArthur — one of the authors who contributed to the book, Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications — believes that it’s about time the issue of robot sex was examined.
“There was a sense of panic and anxiety about this stuff,” said the Manitoban, who spoke to the Star while on a book-tour stop in Vancouver.
Co-author Marina Adshade, a UBC Vancouver School of Economics professor, believes humans having sex with robots will soon allow couples to customize their own marriages.
“Sex robots add the ability of finding new ways around problems,” she said. “I’m not going to worry about what my sexual relationship is because I have this technology that satisfies that part of my life.”
The book argues that society has always been moving to a more individual approach to marriage. Where women used to spend their days doing housework, today, machines, technological developments and shifting societal expectations have turned traditions upside down.
And while robot sex likely won’t end the tradition of marriage, it could very likely change how it looks.
“Instead of substituting marriage, I think robots will complement it,” Adshade said.
“Some people will not have to compromise.... It will break up this bundle of qualities we want in a person and allow us to focus on those that we think are important.
Disconnecting sex and marriage will take the pressure off modern relationships, Adshade said, and once this becomes normalized relationship structures will shift.
“I think there is also a direct link with sex robots and increased acceptance of polyamory or polygamy.”
Kim Switnicki, an intimacy coach and sex educator, said integrating robots in the bedroom can be valuable to society, especially for those who need more education or have trouble maintaining “in-real-life” relationships.
These are called “mediated relationships,” which Switnicki said is a relatively new field of research.
“Virtually all couples have mismatched sex drives, so it seems an obvious solution, but it does depend on how the partner chooses to use or interact or view the robot,” she said. “It really depends on how you value sex in the marriage context.”
It’s no different from using online porn to spice things up, she said.
“It’s a brilliant concept on paper, but it’s like having an open marriage or acting out a fantasy,” she said. “For some it works, but quite often, it is better left as a fantasy. It isn’t a fix or solution for a bad marriage.”
But there may be advantages particularly for groups like those with a disability, those who have experienced sexual trauma, those who live isolated, or those who have different sexual preferences than their partner, McArthur said.
There is very little research done on the social, philosophical, ethical and moral obligations of robots for sexual gratification.
“Will they be pornified fembots?” he said. “These exaggerated female creatures with huge breasts that look like this teenage male fantasy of what a woman should look like.”
McArthur said there are several researchers working on the appearance of bots to address gender issues.
“We are a long way from creating a robot that would have any kind of real agency or moral standing,” he explained.
But he also said it’s a fallacy to assume that only men will be buying sex robots.
“The market for sex toys is dominated by women,” he said, noting that he believes the market will dictate many of the proposed problems.
And it’s not like technology mingling with sex doesn’t already exist.
There’s been an uptick in companionship-marriage websites, apps and matchmaking services. And for those that worry adding a robot to the bedroom will ruin the sanctity of marriage, Adshade points to history: technology has always affected marriages but none has erased the institution.
Birth control and the microwave, for instance, both ignited social outcry that it signaled the end of marriage.
“So much of the discussion around sex robots was completely off base,” Adshade said. “It was hand-wringing about the future as opposed to saying let’s objectively look at what the implications are of this technology.
“This type of technology opens up possibilities that don’t exist now.”