Androids could offer valuable help to the elderly and disabled but may lead to the increased objectification of women
Sex robots have the potential to provide a valuable service for people who are elderly, disabled or who find intercourse traumatic, but they also carry ethical risks, experts say.
Sex robots that look like humans can already be bought or leased for parties in the US, and plans for a cafe staffed by erotic cyborgs in Paddington, London, have been mooted.
The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) report, published on Wednesday, believe they could herald a revolution in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships.
But they also raise concerns that sex robots could increase the objectification of women, alter perceptions of consent and be used to satisfy desires that would otherwise be illegal.
Dr Aimee van Wynsberghe, assistant professor in ethics and technology at the Technical University of Delft and FRR co-director, said: If we are talking about individuals who are not only disabled but have been traumatised, in some ways this could be a beneficial instrument, if you will, to help them in their [sexual] healing process.
There are absolutely some benefits to the technology but, like everything else, there is a balance. You have to strike a balance between lack of regulation so we have all different uses and personifications of children and women as sexual objects or you have overregulation and you stifle the technology. You have to find the way to balance so you really can harness the good.
Among the people it is proposed could benefit from interaction with sex robots are elderly people in care homes, people of both sexes who have had a traumatic sexual experience and men who suffer from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.