Panel discussion raises important questions about the sex robots and the future.
Sexologist Nikki Goldstein, while in China paid a visit to a sex toys trade show where she typically came across some sex dolls but one of them particularly caught her attention and made her very uncomfortable because of its appearance. Goldstein explained her experience at the show to a panelist on the show Q&A on Monday night explained that because sex dolls are generally unable to move about on their own, manufacturers tend to make them smaller to make it easy to move them around.
However, while at the show, Goldstein said she saw some dolls that looked particularly smaller in size that it got her concerned about whether those dolls were pedo-bots. Ms. Goldstein explained that the dolls had a cute look and although she was told they were made for Asian cultures, they still had a childlike look to them. Seeing the dolls made her alarmed, and she had to ask one of the sellers if they weren’t child dolls.
But she was told by the sellers that the dolls weren’t child dolls. They had small breasts which clearly showed that that they were adult. It just wasn’t so large sized, but the idea still scared her all the same. According to Ms. Goldstein, the use of sex dolls is still more of fetish, since technology wasn’t developed enough to make them appear completely life-like yet.
You can consider the use of these dolls as something bordering techno-sexuality. Goldstein also noted that a desire to own a sex doll might be born out of a desire to be in control since such robots are completely for the pleasure of users.
“I know a lot of people freak out about that and think ‘what are we teaching people?’. Are we teaching them not to engage in consent?” She said.
Can Sex robots be a real remedy for those struggling with isolation?
She explained that even if the robots are programmed to say “no,” it doesn’t mean anything since it isn’t as if a gate is going to come down if they do. However, Goldstein believes that as technology gets even more improved, those that are most likely going to benefit from it are people who want the dolls for more intimate needs but don’t want to visit a brothel.
But Van Badham, a social commentator thinks providing people with sex robot might deepen the problem of isolation and loneliness rather than solve it. She cited an example of Japan, where more people are getting older without being able to form families or partnership or engaging in a real sexual relationship because most of them are preoccupied with work. Since most people’s work are getting more individualized by the day, there might even be less human-human contact in coming days and providing someone with sex robots might increase the loneliness and isolation further rather than help to eradicate it.
Some panelists on the show also wondered if it would be possible to have robots that could help educate people on issues of sex. Chuck Klosterman who is a pop culture critic think this is “optimistic.” He explained that while some people might say pornography is meant to teach young people about sex before experiencing it, everybody knows this isn’t the primary reason why young people watch pornography.
There discussion also raised questions about privacy and who would have control over the data a sex robot can gather from its interaction with its owners. Ms. Goldstein cited an example of tech giants like Facebook or porn companies buying such data and using it to learn about people and their sexual behaviors.
The panel discussion which featured different speakers drawn from the Festival of Dangerous ideas also touched briefly on some questions about where sex dolls will be stored. Many of those who have viewed the show described it as spooky and inane.
Meanwhile, Sex clown and performer Betty Gumble thinks the way the society has been educating kids about the issue of sex isn’t right given the amount of panic and shame associated with the subject. She said, discussion about sex, like death, has become quite sanitized and only discussed in hushed tones in the society.
Ms. Gumble thinks this shouldn’t be so. She explained that sex is beautiful and considering our diversities and uniqueness it only becomes a problem when it harms other. She believes people should learn to confront their shame and stand up for themselves despite their weirdness.
Ms. Goldstein noted that Australians are still struggling with the notion of women being outside sexual monogamy. She feels the country still operates on a linear system that has been widely influenced by religion and aimed towards procreation.
The panel discussion also broached on issues relating to the social credit system that is now being practiced in China which awards people point or removes their point based on their activities or behavior such as their actions on social media and when they engage in things like buying cigarettes or alcohol.
Artificial intelligence expert Tony Welsh thinks it is a terrifying subject. He mentioned that China has been able to develop a system known as Skynet that has facial recognition capabilities and can scan up to one billion faces in just a second. Welsh said the technology is currently being used in suppressing religious minorities in the country already.
While many might feel unconcerned because they are in Australia, they should consider the fact that the Australian government just recently decided to also build a database with everyone’s license photographs and passport as well as other biometric details for the purpose of national security.