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The robot sex doll revolution may have some big downsides, experts warn

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By Carter Sherman,

Let’s talk about robot sex.

As robotic sex dolls become increasingly available and lifelike, humans need to stop and consider their consequences, a new report by robot and ethics experts warns. The report, written by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics and titled “Our Sexual Future with Robots,” delves into several pressing questions about the future of robotic sex: Could the rise of robotic sex dolls end human prostitution and sex trafficking? Will sex robots lead people to isolate themselves from real humans? Can robots ever truly love you back?

“We do not contemplate or speculate about far-future robots with personhood — that could have all manner of imagined properties,” the report, which was prepared by roboticists and ethicists associated with the U.K.’s University of Sheffield and the Netherlands’ University of Twente. It includes interviews with sex doll makers, robot experts, and ethnicists, and examines a variety of previous studies on people’s interaction with robots. “We focus instead on significant issues that we may have to deal with in the foreseeable future over the next five to 10 years.”

Right now, robotic sex dolls are still in their early stages, but the race is on to make them ever more realistic. Sex doll companies have recently introduced at least five robotic models, which all use some degree of AI technology, are customizable to clients’ preferences, and retail in the thousands, according to the report.

The report found such dolls could be used to help the elderly, the disabled, and the traumatized, who otherwise might be unable to satisfy their sexual desires with humans. But they also raise questions about consent: After all, by design, these dolls — which are largely created by and geared toward men — cannot say no to their owners.

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