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.”
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.”
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.”
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.