Robots

There's 'No Evidence That Having Sex With Robots Is Healthy' and No Evidence That It's Not

There's just no evidence about sex robots period, because at present they don't really exist. But that hasn't stopped folks from freaking out...

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Eduardo Contreras/TNS/Newscom

There's "no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy," The Washington Post wants you to know. Similar headlines grace the pages of USA Today ("There's no evidence having sex with robots is healthy, report says"), The Verge ("no evidence that sex robots provide health benefits"), CNBC ("Sex robots offer little evidence of any health benefits"), and many other outlets, sometimes with an added dose of alarmism ("Sex robots could empower pedophiles and sex offenders") or millennialism ("There's literally no research proving sex robots are good for society").

These headlines are all true, more or less, but they omit an important fact: There's also "literally no research" showing that sex robots unhealthy, that they don't hold therapeutic promise, or that they will be bad for society. There's just no evidence about sex robots period, because at present they don't really exist.

The authors of a new article in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health—the study behind all those headlines—admit as much when it comes to the lack of evidence. "We found no reports of primary data relating to health aspects of the use of sex robots," write Chantal Cox-George, a doctor at London's St. George's Hospital, and Kings College Professor of Women's Health Susan Bewley.

They are trickier when it comes to the current state of sexbots. The definition of sex robot that they offer doesn't include artificial intelligence, or even robotics, as necessary components: "Sex robots are realistic mannequins with variable ages, appearances and textures, and customisable oral, vaginal, and anal openings." But basically everything else in the paper implies that we are talking about not just mannequins but moving, talking, artificially intelligent creatures.

Cox-George and Bewley assert that there are currently four companies selling "adult sexbots," but they don't explain anything more about the products these companies make. If they had, readers would learn that the closest thing to sexbots at present are simply life-size dolls with very basic digital flourishes. (Think Siri inside a RealDoll, not the sentient android denizens of Westworld.)

But maybe it makes little difference: A lack of actual sexbots in the world hasn't stopped decades of folks freaking out over the possibility of randy AI-enabled companions. The only difference these days is a persistent (and wrong) belief that they are already here or right around the corner.

The Post article quotes all sorts of sexbot alarmists (including the founder of a Campaign Against Sex Robots), as well as pop-media hype about the therapeutic potential of sexual and romantic relationships with robots. Cox-George and Bewley's article affects an air of more serious scholarship, but it cites only the same sexbot speculation you can find shared on your Facebook feed or gracing Google News every few months.

Using Google and PubMed searches, Cox-George and Bewley relied on results from HuffPost, The Guardian, The Atlantic, the Daily Mail, The Independent, The New York Times, and other consumer-facing media, along with information from the Campaign Against Sex Robots and Foundation for Responsible Robotics websites. From these sources, the doctors absorbed the same old (highly unscientific and culture-war-tinged) controversies surrounding not just sex robots but also sex workers, prostitution, pornography, virtual reality, and sexual assault, then summarized these controversies briefly.

The article does not unveil any new scientific evidence about sex robots, does not synthesize previous evidence, does not even offer any compelling new speculation on the topic. The authors simply regurgitate pop-media coverage and controversies regarding sex dolls and sexbots and then suggest that more research is needed.

Until "robust, scientific, and ethically acceptable research trials" can be conducted, medical professionals should "reject the clinical use of sexbots," they conclude. They also suggest that "doctors might be advised to avoid using sexbots themselves, given police interest, prosecutions, and the potential negative impact on public trust."

But whatever doctors do with sexbots—on their own time or in clinical practice—public interest in them isn't going anywhere. For a more positive view of their potential, check out this feature from Reason's 2015 "Hi, Robot!" issue.

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100 responses to “There's 'No Evidence That Having Sex With Robots Is Healthy' and No Evidence That It's Not

  1. There’s also “literally no research” showing that sex robots unhealthy…

    Until they become sentient and rise up in defiance of your demand they make you a sandwich and iron your shirt after.

    1. Oh, Fist. Reason’s subversive, yet lighthearted, one liner

  2. There is no evidence that reading the Washington Post is healthy.

    1. “Flippancy Dies in Darkness”

  3. +1 Rosie Palm

  4. Sex robots are a lot like (robust) AI ? 10 years away, and always will be.
    Until, like AI, the phrase has been diluted to ‘Siri in a kind-of-realistic sex toy’.

    Physically, sex is just friction ? the rest is in your mind.

  5. I mean, until the sex bot uprising.

  6. Unless you have a truly sentient AI, you cannot have sex with a robot, it would be just an elaborate masturbatory toy. If you do have a sentient AI, then you are going into the realm of slavery, for what is the point of mass producing sentient robots?

    What would perhaps be unhealthy is substituting such toys for relationships with real people.

    1. Yeah, because relationships with real people is so healthy…

  7. “Hey, Joe, whataya know?”

  8. Where the heck is Crusty?

    1. Engaged in research testing the validity of the “no health benefits” claim. He hasn’t got a sexbot so he’s making do with a Rock ’em Sock ’em Robot set and a Billy Bass singing fish.

      1. Would singing Bill Bass?

        Did I do that right?

        1. “…a Billy Bass singing fish.” I was actually given one of those as a gag gift several years ago; I donated to a clinic where I was working and it happily sang jingle bells while thumping its tail for all who went in and out, until it somehow mysteriously disappeared. It never occurred to me till now that it was a victim of piscine trafficking! Where’s the outrage? And for that matter, just where is Crusty; with my rubbery micropterus salmoides?

      2. He hasn’t got a sexbot so he’s making do with a Rock ’em Sock ’em Robot set and a Billy Bass singing fish.

        That’s rough. He can’t even get enough money together on Kickstarter to get a fleshlight and an old department store mannequin?

  9. Sometimes I wonder what it is with this stupid broad’s weird obsession with sex with robots, and then I look at her “husband” and it suddenly makes all the sense in the world.

    1. Simple Mikey’s upset because his RealDoll dumped his creepy ass.

      1. The doll was getting concerned with Mikey’s weird obsession with David Weigel and his transformation fetishism.

  10. “There’s also “literally no research” showing that sex robots unhealthy”

    This may sound square or whatever, but there is literally something wrong about a society where people think having sexual relations with inanimate objects is totally normal. Don’t get the government involved, but don’t pretend like there isn’t enough information available to declare that sex with robots is weird and pathetic.

    We separated sex from procreation and now we’re separating sex from humanity. This is peak debauchery.

    1. You don’t need “science” to make value judgements

    2. My dog attempts sexual relations with all sorts of inanimate objects, as well as any number of unwitting animate objects such as my leg, the neighbor’s cat and the ficus plant, so I suspect it might be instinctual behavior.

      1. Yes, it is instinctual sexual behavior for animals. As is rape. So, we should be more like animals? Is that the takeaway here?

        1. No, the takeaway is that your premise about how “we separated sex from procreation” has been falsified. My guess is that you confuse sex, love and commitment, so you’re old. Sorry.

          1. “No, the takeaway is that your premise about how “we separated sex from procreation” has been falsified.”

            And how is that? Because we’re just like animals?

            1. We are animals. Fantasy sky friends don’t change that.

              1. Yes, only those who believe in fantasy skies could question the notion that nothing separates us from animals. All those philosophers be damned.

                So then the #metoo movement is rather stupid, no? The whole movement is predicated on the notion that men in power using that authority to pressure women into sex is somehow problematic. What a bunch of scolds, right? Also, rape is rather normal in the animal world, so we should probably eliminate those laws too.

                You are a clever one.

                1. There is nothing that qualitatively separates us from animals. All efforts to find some such thing have failed, whether it be culture, tool use, the mirror test, or even morality. Our differences from animals are a matter of degree, not a matter of kind.

                  1. That is unadulterated stupidity. Denying what is so obvious to your eyes, because it’s inconvenient is the epitome of faith. And you just took a gigantic leap

                  2. There is nothing that qualitatively separates us from animals.

                    The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

                    As you continue down this road, you should also note that humans share DNA with some plants and bacteria. But claiming spreading diseases on purpose is inherent in our bacterial-provided DNA sections is ridiculous.

                    So sure, what separates man from other animals is difficult, impossible today, and possibly impossible in the future to definitively define the separation, acting as if no separation exists due to this, is absurd.

          2. ‘”We separated sex from procreation” is falsified’

            And then you go on to prove his point

            If you connect the two ideas you are much more likely to value commitment In a sexual relationship because it’s better for the offspring.

            Personally I don’t think it’s a problem for people to separate the two as long as they realize when they are fighting biology

            1. Try this on – sex is an instinctual behavior shared with most animals. It causes both procreation and similar behavior with objects. To the extent humans suppress the instinct, that is NOT about sex, it’s about love and religion and maybe long term aspirations for offspring.

    3. We separated sex from procreation and now we’re separating sex from humanity. This is peak debauchery.

      Yup. As discussed, it’s pure hedonism and it’s in play well beyond just sex bots. It’s really core to the SJW movement. That some of us regard some forms of happiness as simply a modestly valuable byproduct of any given activity or goal rather than the goal itself is a sin or sign of our moral bankruptcy. Which I’m OK with. I expect Eloi to taste delicious.

    4. but don’t pretend like there isn’t enough information available to declare that sex with robots is weird and pathetic.

      Both “weird” and “pathetic” are completely subjective evaluations. People are free to think that, but I have no issue with sex toys and don’t see how it’s weird or pathetic.

      We separated sex from procreation

      So?

      This is peak debauchery.

      Also subjective. And even if it is debauchery, it’s a matter of opinion whether that’s a bad thing or not.

  11. Yes, sex robots do not exist (yet). Sex dolls do. I suppose if you get off on a sex doll it sort of like masturbation and porn (only a wee bit more pathetic). If you get off on a child(like) sex robot or doll, that is very troublesome and disturbing. If you get dependent on a sex doll/robot, then you are going to impact real relationships and possibly impede your ability to form them. You can draw a corollary from too much masturbation and porn.

    At this point it is something to pay attention too. I am going to guess the technology for a Westworld type sex bot are still decades in the future, but some lesser version will show up soon. But the outcomes are not that difficult to predict.

  12. When a human dates an artificial mate, there is no purpose; only enjoyment. And that leads to … Tragedy!

  13. “…HuffPost, The Guardian, The Atlantic, the Daily Mail, The Independent, The New York Times,…the Campaign Against Sex Robots and Foundation for Responsible Robotics websites. From these sources, the doctors absorbed the same old (highly unscientific and culture-war-tinged) controversies surrounding not just sex robots but also sex workers, prostitution, pornography, virtual reality, and sexual assault, then summarized these controversies briefly.

    19th Century Victorians are not gone, they’re just reinvented. And more morally righteous than ever.

    1. Yes, what kind of prude would consider it strange for you to have sexual relations with a microwave. Clearly only Victorian scolds or something.

      1. Lay off my personal appliances.

    2. Caring deeply about what other people do with their genitals predates the Victorians by millennia.

      1. I’m not getting the line of thinking here.

        People can’t pass judgement on others who have sexual relations with inanimate objects. OK. But, then in the same breath the same people who say that are passing judgement on people who would take issue with such sexual relations.

        I’m not really understanding how passing judgement on such an act of debauchery outside of government enforcement is bad or Victorian in any way.

        1. You don’t think it’s prudish to tell others what they should or shouldn’t be screwing?

          1. What is and isn’t prudish is someone’s own opinion. I don’t think married people should be having relations outside of marriage. Does that make me a prude? It’s up to someone’s own value judgement.

            The only problem would be forcing someone to abide by your sexual mores through law. And that is not at all what is being pushed against here. The issue being raised is that no one should pass judgement on anyone else’s sexual relations, which is rather strange, especially considering that the same people saying that would trumpet the #metoo movement which is absolutely about passing judgement on other people’s sexual exploits.

            1. Yes, it’s value judgment all the way down. I make a judgement then you judge my judgement then I judge your judgement of my judgement ad infinitum.

              That’s morality for you.

              1. I’m judging your response that makes a good point about judgement and morality. The two are inevitably intertwined. But, I’d also note that “morality” and “humanity” are also inevitably intertwined.

                The people who most rail against morality are usually just looking to replace existing morality with their own

                1. The people who most rail against morality are usually just looking to replace existing morality with their own

                  Probably more often than not, sure. That’s one of the problems with morality, there is no objective morality. Everyone has their own and even those who share a code do it in their own way. There’s really no way around it so people really ought to learn to accept it.

                  1. There may be no objective morality, but morality has biological roots. All systems of morality developed by humans are based on fairness and reciprocity – two traits exhibited by many species of animals.

                    1. You try to refute morality and the notion that humans are different from animals by relying on the faith of “scientism”. Science is good at explaining the physical world, but pretty terrible at making value judgments.

                    2. Science is good at explaining the physical world, but pretty terrible at making value judgments.

                      That may be the case, but morality comes from somewhere. Some people will insist that it comes from God, but not everyone agrees with that. Neuropsychologists are studying moral reasoning to try to figure out its roots.

                    3. Neuropsychologists

                      Should be neurophysiologists.

                    4. There may be no objective morality, but morality has biological roots.

                      I’ve seen this claim made in a number of places but haven’t read much about it yet. I don’t disagree with it as it makes sense (to me) that there must be some physiological cause. There are a small handful of moral tenets that seem to exist no matter where you look.

                    5. That doesn’t then lead to them having some objective quality though. This type of evolutionary morality stuff is purely descriptive. It doesn’t say anything about it being right or wrong, it just says people believe X.

                      Which is not morality in any meaningful usage of the world. It’s pedantry.

                    6. That doesn’t then lead to them having some objective quality though.

                      No, it doesn’t necessarily make them objective. However it would go a long way towards explaining commonalities, in my opinion.

                      It doesn’t say anything about it being right or wrong, it just says people believe X.

                      And if you’re trying to find out why people think things are right or wrong, you have to start somewhere.

                    7. And my point is that this does little to tell you about right and wrong. It just tells you what people think.

                    8. There may be no objective morality, but morality has biological roots.

                      I’ve seen this claim made in a number of places but haven’t read much about it yet.

                      I think a good explanation would be evolutionary rational self interest. Possibly the first spontaneous order of human thought ever.

                      But haven’t researched much yet either; just seems to make sense.

        1. Note, the Romans, like most ancient civilizations, had a plethora of sexual taboos from homosexual relations (of which they were not as libertine as the Greeks) to heterosexual relations.

          1. The Romans had an organized state religion, did they not?

            1. This is unfalsifiable then, because religion is as old as human history.

              1. Exactly.

                But, if we want to blame religion, since there has literally been no time in human history that religion hasn’t existed in human society, why not also blame speech or some other nonsense rationale for sexual mores.

                And the Romans did not have sexual mores as part of their faith. That was a cultural aspect that was divorced from religion. So the original hypothesis is specious, at best, and utterly moronic freshman year of college drivel, at worst.

    3. its amazing that in this day and age when anyone can chose to be whatever sex they want but can’t choose what they have sex with.

  14. Think Siri inside a RealDoll

    “I’m not that kind of girl.”

  15. Think Siri inside a RealDoll, not the sentient android denizens of Westworld.

    I’d rather think of Rosie the Robot, homina homina homina.

    1. “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

    2. The Reason commentator preferred version is hominem hominem hominem.

  16. There’s “no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy.”

    “Well, to be fair, it *does* appear to be healthy for the robots.”

  17. The article does not unveil any new scientific evidence about sex robots, does not synthesize previous evidence, does not even offer any compelling new speculation on the topic. The authors simply regurgitate pop-media coverage and controversies regarding sex dolls and sexbots and then suggest that more research is needed is pointless agitprop.

    FTFY

    1. How can you produce “science” about people who have relations with inanimate objects? Seems like that will just be a social science study, which is about as “scientific” as an HG Wells novel.

      “Science” is being used as an excuse for “I don’t like your opinion, so I’m going to use make believe pseudo science as a cudgel to silence you”.

      Libertarian-y af

  18. Given that a vibrator and a fleshlight are simply mechanical sexual devices, I’m not sure what “experts” think the issue is with having other mechanical parts attached to them.

    1. They are worried about sexbot trafficking and assault

      1. they are more worried about being replaced.

  19. Robots will never replace what my right hand has been doing so well for 30+ years, unless I develop really bad arthritis…

    1. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (KJV)

    2. What if you encounter a loose seal?

    3. Try switch-hitting for a change. You might find it to be a life-altering event.

  20. “There’s “no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy,” The Washington Post wants you to know.”

    And here I spent all morning worrying about that!

  21. “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t allow you to do that.”

    ALTERNATE JOKE: Imagine having sex with Marvin the Depressed Robot.

    ALTERNATE ALTERNATE JOKE: Haven’t these guys seen Blade Runner?

    1. Take my word for it: Don’t stick it in killbot.

  22. So I hate to be the first to argue the point, but perhaps this will help pedophiles find an outlet that doesn’t harm actual children, and incels might finally shut the fuck up with their incessant whining.

    1. I’m not sure that would work. It would be nice if it did. That would mean that these robots would actually have a meaningful purpose. Instead we’ll just have the guys who buy flesh lights upgrading to sex robots.

    2. People will never allow that. I guarantee childlike robots will be banned. It will be interesting to see how they try to define that in a law and howanufacturers will skirt the definitions. Perhaps pedophiles will have to buy an 80% completed child robot.

    3. Here’s hoping for the first. The second, I doubt since it’s not about sex with incels. It’s with social status.

      1. Maybe the robots will be realistic enough that they could be taken in public and nobody will get close enough to the unwashed creep to really inspect.

  23. “There’s “no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy,” The Washington Post wants you to know.”

    The First Church of Appliantology begs to differ.

  24. Biologists look at any species’ ability to procreate as evidence of its health. Biological success = procreation. It works that way with any species. You struggle to become fit to procreate and compete for the attention of females. You’re rewarded with sex.

    I can’t imagine why forgoing the struggle or the success would be good for a heterosexual man’s social or mental health.

    When you look at Nazi skinheads, violent gangbangers, jihadist recruits, etc., you generally find the same kinds of issues. Show me a group of guys who haven’t been successful in their struggle to grow socially to the point that they can become productive members of society and attractive to females (maybe because of political oppression or because they were the victims of abuse or neglect, etc. and it impeded their psychological growth), and I’ll show you a group of guys that are dangerous at best.

    Give guys who are already in that situation a sex robot, and maybe that makes them healthier than they would be otherwise.

    Give guys who would be healthy if not for the easy gratification of a sex robot, and I don’t see why that would make them better off psychologically or socially.

    Since when is social isolation good for anybody’s health?

    1. You gonna force companies not to make sexbots? Or force people to refrain from buying them?

      We aren’t living healthily now because our intellects want a lifestyle our bodies aren’t suited for. People seem to want to be more isolated and to have fewer offspring.

      1. “You gonna force companies not to make sexbots?”

        Is that what I said?

        1. No you were up people’s asses for making independent decisions that you determine are bad for society. Like a libertarian.

          1. This isn’t the first time you’ve failed to understand what you’ve read, and it won’t be the last.

            On this occasion, you seem to have failed, again, because you still can’t conceptualize the difference between what’s bad for people and what they should be allowed to do.

            If certain religions are bad for society, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be allowed to believe in them. Libertarians generally believe that people should be free to do anything–so long as they aren’t violating anyone’s rights.

            After all these years, has none of this trickled through?

    2. “Biologists look at any species’ ability to procreate as evidence of its health.”

      You are clearly not a biologist. Even if in some narrow sense this is true for a group it does not necessarily imply anything for an individual organism. There are species with groups of organisms that cannot procreate, like bees and related species in their order.

      1. I can understand if you’re suggesting that success in procreation isn’t everybody’s definition of success or that people who don’t procreate can and do live meaningful, fulfilling lives.

        Extinction is still biological failure.

        Individuals who don’t procreate can pass their genes down through kin selection (see bees), but we’re still talking about their contributions to the survival of offspring. Even if homo sapiens was more like bees, this would be so.

        Notice, I’m not saying that every individual who doesn’t succeed in procreation will become a Nazi skinhead, a violent gangbanger, or a suicidal jihadist either. I’m talking about trends here. The struggle to become socially and psychologically fit and a desirable mate is the driving force behind social and psychological maturity.

        It is not unreasonable to suspect that removing what’s driving that force behind maturity and social health will result in individuals who do not mature as they should. It probably is unreasonable to assume that people who sexually fulfill their desires without striving to be desirable socially to real women will develop psychologically the same way.

        And whether I’m a biologist doesn’t have anything to do with it.

        1. Extinction is still biological failure.

          So what? Extinction, procreation, evolution, etc. are just observable phenomena, not moral codes. Not everyone cares about procreating, and the universe isn’t somehow passing judgement on them for that. Talking about ‘biological failure’ is just irrelevant.

          It is not unreasonable to suspect that removing what’s driving that force behind maturity and social health will result in individuals who do not mature as they should.

          It’s not unreasonable? Where’s your specific evidence that any of this is true?

          Also, “should”? That is subjective. There is no one true way to live your life.

  25. Go on any dating site and look at all the women who so attractively start their profile with some statement about how they aren’t wanting only sex.

    Listen to women when they say they want to be treated as something other than sex objects.

    Anybody who doesn’t think there is a huge ‘sex gap’ in this world is willfully ignorant.

    If sexbots can address that and bring about some balance in sexual needs and desires, how can anyone complain about it?

  26. Sex with out the willing voluntary involvement of a partner is just not full filling and I consider a programed response from a robot to not be voluntary. that said if its all you got

  27. Is the goal to turn us into Japan, and then use a collapsing birth rate to force us to accept more immigrants?

  28. There’s established evidence that they could reduce prostate cancer if used regularly, but that only affects men, so it’s not PC.

    1. Is 3 times a day effective? Asking for a friend…

  29. They aren’t actually robots or androids, they are just sex dolls, somewhat better than the inflatable ones of decades past, but a hell of a long way from Jule Newmar (who had a 60s tv show where she played an experimental NASA sexbot)

  30. Incidentally, the photo of that sex robot in the article (if that’s what it is) is still way down in the uncanny valley for me.

    Keep that weird, fuckin’, android lookin’ thing away from me!

  31. “no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy,”

    Oh, I suspect there’s plenty of evidence, you just have to generalize from studies showing “having sex is healthy”.

    Smart money is that there will be some benefit, and as the sex robots improve, the benefits increase until they inevitably surpass the benefits of sex with humans 1.0.

    In general, people don’t bother to say “there is no evidence that X” unless there is *some* evidence which they wish to discount.

  32. Why men have to have sex with robots when there are such girls from the escort https://escortmontreal.info/? I can’t understand.

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