Sex

Malaysia Bans International Sex Robot Symposium

"Intercourse with robots-don't try to be ridiculous," say Malaysian police.

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Malaysian authorities are saying thanks but no thanks to an international "Love and Sex with Robots" symposium that was scheduled to be held there. "It's not our culture," said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar about the event, which was to take place in the metropolitan area of Iskandar Malaysia in November.

"It's already an offense in Malaysia to have anal sex," Bakar said at the press conference, according to the English-language Malaysian newspaper The Star. "Intercourse with robots. Don't try to be ridiculous."

The event's organizers had been warned and the police would "take action…if they choose to hold the event," Bakar said.

But as racy as the robot event might sound, this gathering was to be more academic than erotic. The love- and sex-robots symposium was one several sessions taking place as part of an "Advances in Computer Entertainment Conference" co-chaired by Adrian David Cheok, a professor of pervasive computing at City University London, and chess-master turned toy developer and author (his book is Love + Sex With Robots) David Levy.

Cheok said the event was not meant to promote sexual and romantic relationships between humans and robots.

At the moment, such relationships aren't really possible anyway, since artificially intelligent sexbots don't yet exist. (For more on the once- and -future pursuit of human-like machines for people to have sex with, see my feature from Reason's April 2015 issue.) But some people are already plenty worried about the possibility. For instance, the Campaign Against Sex Robots was recently launched by two academics to promulgate the idea that sex robots would be "harmful and contribute to inequalities in society." The Campaign called Malaysia's decision to ban the sex robots symposium "welcome news considering the significance of the sex trade in Malaysia."