With all of the imminent technology seeping into society, robo-ethicists have been debating very new and practical ways that robots intersect with society. During a robotics conference, the topic arose concerning the morality of childlike robots as an alternative treatment for pedophilia. Some believe it is a realistic goal, while others think it will cause pedophiles to act impulsively as opposed to a safe outlet. Are child sex robots the next rehab craze?
Child-like sex dolls are already available for purchase, but unlike robots, they cannot move without assistance. Robotics companies are now designing robots that mirror facial expressions and other elements of humanity. The goal is to produce robots that look and feel as lifelike as possible. These robotic creations use artificial intelligence that will allow computers to interact with humans by learning from experience as well as making their own choices.
Heretofore, this was something only witnessed in movies and on television, but now companies are working to make it a reality. If sex dolls can be customized by body shapes, skin tones, and hair colors, one can only imagine how humanistic robots will be with the addition of artificial intelligence. Sex robots will appeal to a variety of customer fantasies, which brings about the question of moral implications. For example, if child sex robots become the next rehab craze, pedophiles seeking to act out a sexual fantasy with children would be able to purchase a child sexbot.
Ronald Arkin, a robo-ethicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is in favor of pursuing the idea. He supports the theory that these sex dolls could help provide a non-harmful outlet for a person’s sexual inclinations when included in a treatment program. Arkin compared it to the way methadone treats drug-addicted victims. He said:
There are no presumptions that this will assuredly yield positive results – I only believe it is worth investigating in a controlled way to possibly provide better protection to society from recidivism in sex offenders. If we can save some children, I think it’s a worthwhile project.
Although the concept of using sex robots to rehabilitate pedophiles has gained support, there are also those who believe this idea would actually help to reorient pedophiles. It is not a cure, instead, using child sex dolls is still child molestation, but without children. Katie Gotch, of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, explained that proper treatment methods are rooted in either psychopharmacology or cognitive-behavioral therapy. She added:
Now you have a child bot that’s indicating pleasure to these sexual activities? That could be very detrimental to the individual’s cognitive understanding. Having that sublimation through a robot may, for some, actually increase their difficulties with their arousal patterns rather than meeting those needs.
The theory teaches pedophiles that sex with children is okay as long as the child is a robot. Due to the confusing message this concept generates, Gotch strongly argues that child sex bots are likely to redirect pedophilic interests back toward human children, rather than satisfying the desire outright. Sex with a minor is abuse and always unacceptable.
Are child sex robots the next rehab craze? In the olden days, pedophilia was treated with techniques like electroshock therapy or “covert sensitization,” in which a patient would learn to associate thoughts of naked children with things like having his penis stuck in his zipper. Today, the treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis, but the future could include child sex robots could as the next rehab craze.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
VICE: Creating Child Sex Robots Is a Terrible Idea
BBC: Could a child sex robot treat paedophilia?
Christian Post: Christian Ethicists Urge Ban on Child Sex Robots
Top Image Courtesy of Chris Hutchin’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of kaex0r’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Shan Sheehan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License