Partner not the best in bed? No worries, sex robots are there and ready to please! Right now, sex robots are dumb. But that doesn't need to be the case: Embedding a smart personal agent like Siri on your sex robot would technologically be relative easy and could spice things up – but at the same time, opens the door to some very borderline questions.
Sure, there are some darker sides to the ethics around sex robots – such as what happens in case of sadistic 'robot abuse', but I think those questions are missing the point. What's considerably more important to think about first is on how sex robots have the potential to impact the average person. And by that I mean questions with wider societal implications.
Some relate to fundamental rights, such as privacy: What happens when the sex robot is turned – knowingly or unknowingly – into a surveillance agent?
Or public safety: Can a sex robot reduce rape frequencies and bring sexual abuse rate down from one in five women in developed countries (even worse in other countries)?
Others relate to demographics: Porn is known to reduce the quality of physical sexual intercourse; how will having a sex robot in the house impact the quality of the partner's sexual experience, and thus desire and ability to procreate?
As well as couple therapy: How will the addition of a sex robot to the bedroom affect partnership stability?
And even the question of personal status: At what point does a robot gain status as a legal person capable of acting and concluding contracts on its own accord?
This last one might actually not be as far away from reality as robots with personality: With smart contracting just around the corner, and the potential legal recognition of automatic software an acceptable form of legal signature, I can imagine a sex robot being set up as a legal signing representative for a company, using smart contracting to sell sexual services for profit.
Why female sex robots are more dangerous than you think
I was going to start this article about robots with a reference to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.