Some say the proliferation of sex robots could lead to less demand for prostitution, but not all agree.
- A Toronto-based sex robot brothel plans to open another location in Houston.
- Some critics argue that the proliferation of sex robots would lead to increases in prostitution and sex trafficking.
- Others say that such technology could help some people find a degree of much-needed companionship.
How would sex robots affect rates of prostitution?<p>One argument, to which <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/technology/calls-mount-for-regulation-of-sex-robots" target="_blank">Gavriel subscribes</a>, says that increased availability of sex robots would reduce the demand for human prostitutes. It's an idea tangentially related to the <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201601/evidence-mounts-more-porn-less-sexual-assault" target="_blank">longstanding body of research</a> that shows countries tend to see decreases in sexual assaults and rape after they legalize porn.</p><p>In his bestselling book <em>Love and Sex with Robots</em>, A.I. researcher David Levy explores the future of human relationships with robots and suggests that sex robots could reduce prostitution rates, or even someday render it obsolete.</p><p>But that's "highly speculative philosophy," according to Richardson.</p><p>"The reality is that it will just become a new niche market within the pornography industry and within the prostitution trade," she said in an <a href="https://www.feministcurrent.com/2017/06/02/interview-kathleen-richardson-makes-case-sex-robots/" target="_blank">interview</a> with <em>Feminist Current</em>. "If people buy into the idea that you can have these dolls as part of your sexual fetish, it will become another burden that actual living human beings will have to undergo in the commercial sex trade."</p><p><img src="https://assets.rbl.ms/18653893/980x.jpg"></p><p><em>A sex doll sold by Kinky S Dolls.</em><br></p><p>Richardson elaborated on this idea in her paper.</p><p>"...studies have found that the introduction of new technology supports and contributes to the expansion of the sex industry," she wrote. "Prostitution and pornography production also rises with the growth of the internet. In 1990, 5.6 percent of men reported paying for sex in their lifetime, by 2000, this had increased to 8.8 percent."</p><p>However, those rates aren't necessarily causally linked.</p><p>Richardson also wrote that if sex toys, such as RealDolls and blow-up dolls, actually led to lower prostitution demand then we would have already seen decreases, but "no such correlation is found."</p><p>Still, that last point might soon become invalid as a sort of apples-to-oranges comparison if technology can produce artificially intelligent and lifelike sex robots unlike anything the industry has seen before.</p>
An illusion of companionship<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY1NDMxMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTA4NDExMH0.FKivxOigePM6JijyRIgmterXIYpDCg9Aq-a4SaZDltk/img.jpg?width=980" id="82a9c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38eee6a16139c4b6922090b34586f98c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Image: Film4, from the 2015 film 'Ex Machina'" />
Image: Film4, from the 2015 film 'Ex Machina'<p>Critics argue that the proliferation of sex robots would serve to reinforce the objectification of women in men's minds, and also reduce the ability for some men to empathize, a necessary component of healthy social interaction.</p><p>Houstonian Andrea Paul voiced a simpler <a href="https://news4sanantonio.com/news/nation-world/sex-robot-brothel-to-open-in-houston-neighborhood" target="_blank">objection to the brothel:</a></p><p>"There's kids around here and it's a family-oriented neighborhood and I live right here and to have that here is just gross."</p><p>Gross, sure. But to Matt McMullen, creator of the <a href="https://www.realdoll.com/" target="_blank">RealDoll</a>, the future of sex robots looks a bit more uplifting.</p><p>"My goal, in a very simple way, is to make people happy," McMullen told <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/abyss-creations-ai-sex-robots-headed-to-your-bed-and-heart/" target="_blank"><em>CNET</em></a>. "There are a lot of people out there, for one reason or another, who have difficulty forming traditional relationships with other people. It's really all about giving those people some level of companionship—or the illusion of companionship."</p>
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