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    This photo taken on February 1, 2018 shows an engineer making some electronic corrections to a robot at a lab of a doll factory of EXDOLL, a firm based in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian

    Samantha's #MeToo: Will Sex Robots Start Rejecting Humans?

    © AFP 2019 / FRED DUFOUR
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    Last year a sex robot named Samantha was “molested” and seriously damaged at a tech industry festival; the incident spurred debate on the need to raise the issue of ethics in relation to machines.

    While the developers of sexbots have claimed that their projects will do anything to indulge their customers’ desires, it seems that they might start rejecting some persistent men. Computer scientists have recently raised the issue of human-robot relations, stressing that people ignore the fact that they may seriously damage the machine, just because it cannot say “no” to their “advances.”

    READ MORE: Gratifying Gadgets: Top 3 Sex Robots (PHOTO, VIDEO)

    For instance, Samantha has “survived” an aggressive encounter: the robot was repaired after several men violently groped it at the Arts Electronica Festival in Austria last year. Inventor Sergi Santos insisted that his creation was programmed with artificial intelligence so that it responded to “gentle seduction,” not “barbarian treatment.”

    Goldsmiths’ senior lecturer Kate Devlin is the one who reflected on the question whether sex robots should have rights and wondered if engineers should insert the notion of consent into the programming. This would mean perceiving the robot as human and taking into account its desires, judging rightness by virtue of what will comply with human desire. But does this mean that machines should be able to give their consent or refusal to sex, as a human being would?

    Researchers such as Lily Frank and Sven Nyholm from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands hypothesized that future humanoid sex robots might be sophisticated enough to “enjoy a certain degree of consciousness” to consent to sexual intercourse, albeit, to their mind, conscious feelings were not necessary components of being able to give or withhold consent. According to them, in legal terms, introduction of the notion of consent into human-robot sexual relationships is vital in a way similar to sexual relations between humans and it will help prevent the creation of a “class of legally incorporated sex-slaves.”

    READ MORE: If You Can't Beat 'Em: Expert Says Sex Robots to Make Great Teaching Tools

    At the same time, feminist theoretician Rosi Braidotti argues that it is essential to introduce ethics, rather than a law, based on an embodied form of accountability in cross-species relationships; such ethics could help people find a sensitive and empathic way of treating robots.


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