Back in 2016, 21WIRE filed a somewhat shocking report about a high-profile robotics professor who sounded a dystopian alarm – warning that in the very near future people will be losing their virginity to robots.
Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics at Sheffield University, warned that many teens in the future may have their first sexual encounters with specially-designed robotic dolls. The implications of this would be devastating for society and perhaps even civilization as we know it. In short, they have the potential to ruin human relationships.
The ethical and legal implications of this technology are no less astounding, and will challenge the current legal system in ways that may be hard to envisage in today’s world. Whereas social justice activists, like Obama advisor Cass Sunstein, are campaigning for animals to be given the legal right to sue a human in a court of law, will robots which possess an artificial intelligence ‘agency’ also be awarded rights like humans? Undoubtedly, there are enterprising lawyers who are looking at this as a potential market for legal services.
Some of these paradigm shifts have been alluded to in the 2015 film, Ex Machina, and also in the British Channel 4 TV series Humans, where life-like, humanoid robots were marketed as a replacement for human domestic workers, and as sex workers in the newly regulated cybernetic-based adult entertainment industry. Much of it comes down to economics, however. In his feature, The Android Affair: Humanity Outsourced, 21WIRE writer Randy Johnson talks about the ethical and social dilemmas that this new technology will introduce into the mix. He identifies some of the economic realities which will be driving the emerging ‘sex bot’ industry. Johnson explains: (Click to Site)