Concerns Arise as Sex Dolls Become Popular

Concerns Arise as Sex Dolls Become Popular

Whether people like it or not, the fact that sex dolls are here to stay cannot be dodged. In fact, sex robots are increasingly becoming a part of the conversation regarding what sex and relationships would be in the future.

Several companies are starting to develop robots that are designed to be companions of humans as well as provide sexual gratification. Few of these so-called sex robots are now available in the market. 

Different from sex toys and sex dolls that are typically hidden in closets and sold in off-the-radar shops, sex robots carry the possibility to become mainstream. According to a survey in the year 2017, approximately half of the Americans think that it will become a common practice to have sex with robots within 50 years.

But the question lies whether there is any legal policy that encapsulates the production and use of sex robots. Questions regarding its safety is also one thing that must be answered. 

What Exactly is a Sex Robot?

A universally accepted definition of what a sex robot does not exist. And although this does not seem important, it will become a serious problem for any proposal that tries to govern or ban them. 

Concerns Arise as Sex Dolls Become Popular

The main dilemma is how people can exactly distinguish what a sex doll is from what a sexy doll is. Should a sexy robot be considered as a sex robot just because humans find it attractive and it can bring sexual gratification? 

Defining a sex robot the same way that legislatures define sex toys primarily by how they are used is a tempting thing to do. For instance, Alabama, the only state in the U.S. where there is an outright ban on the sale of sex toys, the government focuses on devices that are “primarily for the stimulation of the human genital organs.”

While the same definition can be used to tell what a sex robot is, it can be a problem as a sex robot can provide much more than sex. Sex robots are more than just silicone dolls integrated with a microchip. Rather, they are created to use self-learning algorithms that allow them to engage with the emotions of their partners. 

The “Mark 1” robot is the best example of a robot that uses self-learning algorithms. Mark 1, which resembles the face of the actress Scarlett Johansson is labeled by people as a sex robot. However, its creator Ricky Ma Tsz Hang clarified that Mark 1 is never intended as a sex robot. Rather, it is a robot that aims to aid its owner with all sorts of tasks such as preparing lunch for a child and being a companion to an elderly relative. 

Of course, humans can adeptly differentiate both sexual and non-sexual contexts. However, conceptualizing and governing a robot that can do both household tasks and “adult tasks” can be a little difficult to do. 

Sex Robots and Its Legal Issues

Lawrence v. Texas, in a landmark 2003 case, the Supreme Court decided to established a law described by some scholars as a right to sexual privacy in exchange for Texas’ sodomy law. 

Concerns Arise as Sex Dolls Become Popular

Currently, a split among circuit courts is happening as they try to decide how they will apply Lawrence to state restrictions on sex toy sales. Alabama’s ban is has been upheld and it seems like the bans on sex toys will be put down eventually. If this happens, states will be able to wholesale the restrict sales of sex robots in general. 

The Safety and Security of Sex Robots

Perhaps, sex robots will become a part of the everyday lives of humans someday. Yet for now, they are nothing but mere products to satisfy the sexual desires of a person. 

Another question that is almost overlooked is how the hazards associated with sex robots will be regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The existing products related to sex are not regulated very well. This causes concern considering that there are a lot of ways in which sex robots could harm their users. 

For instance, there is a danger when a person kisses and holds hands with a sex doll. Although it may be a seemingly innocent act, the danger lies if the sex robot was manufactured using lead paint and some other toxic chemicals? Also, what if a human accidentally hurt her owner while trying to display some passion?

Apart from physical harm, sex robots can possibly harm the security of a person. A sex robot is created in such a way that they could learn the things that a human does. For example, they could remember the words that soothe their owner, as well as what type of touch is comforting. If they could remember such information, then there is a huge possibility that they can store and process their owner’s private information. Could this mean that sex dolls can be vulnerable to hacking? Could sex robots be used by the state as a surveillance device for sex offenders?

Sex Robots and the Government 

Perhaps, the way that the government will regulate sex robots will largely depend on the effects of these sex robots on people and society. 

Back in the year 2018, the Houston City Council enacted an ordinance that bans the operation of what was supposed to be the first robot brothel in the U.S. One attendee at a community meeting warned that sex robots can and would destroy homes, finances, families, and neighbors. The attendee also said that sex robots could cause a major conflict in the community. 

Concerns Arise as Sex Dolls Become Popular

However, such predictions are nothing but pure speculations. There is currently no evidence that the introduction of sex robots to people could affect either them or society. There are so many unanswered questions regarding the prevalence of sex robots. And although it is pretty hard to conduct empirical studies about sex robots unless they become even more prevalent, researchers are required to urgently explore this topic for more informed governance.

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