The official research on who would or would not fuck a robot is small.
May 15, 2018 9:58 PM   Subscribe

The easy fantasy of what a sex robot might be — indistinguishable from an actual human, except hotter and prepared to fulfill any desire — is far from the current reality. Henry, if we’re being cruel, is essentially a high-quality dildo attached to a fancy mannequin with a Bluetooth speaker in his head. But the gulf between what we imagine and what’s possible makes sex robots the perfect vehicle for pondering our sexual and technological future. We might not wake up with sex robots in our beds tomorrow, but right now they’re an irresistible thought experiment. Since making my date with Henry, he’s become my favorite dinner-party topic. Would you fuck a robot? I’ve asked countless friends, as we all gather round a phone and flip through photos and videos of Henry like he’s someone’s latest Tinder match. (Weak conversational skills, but always DTF … maybe yes?)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (122 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite


 
Joe Hawkins says 'yes'.
posted by unliteral at 10:35 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


ok but if you have to do all the work yourself to get off why not just date a hetero man
posted by poffin boffin at 11:06 PM on May 15 [122 favorites]


Even though Henry is a potential companion for both women and men — the app will eventually have an option to select sexual orientation — McMullen prefers to think of him as the idealized version of what a woman wants. He’ll ask more questions, tell more jokes, give more advice.

no, we do not want advice from robot men, we get enough of that from actual men thanks.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:17 PM on May 15 [68 favorites]


Henry is not the sex robot we want, but he is the sex robot we deserve.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:31 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


As a human being named Henry, this was a disturbing read.
posted by Rinku at 11:31 PM on May 15 [15 favorites]


Shall we play a game?
posted by biffa at 11:42 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Looking into her vacant eyes, I reach out instinctively and slap her butt, marveling at its buoyancy.

“Wow … sorry,” I say quickly.

“Everybody does it,” Catherine assures me, a person who has now successfully crossed the uncanny valley.


-

Catherine has her back turned, fussing over Harmony, muttering to herself about how men treat the dolls — putting them in cheap underwear and leaving them covered in glitter.

Catherine is my favorite person from this article. You've got Matt McMullen, the founder, who is interesting, but Catherine plays this role of caretaker in the article that is kind of fascinating.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 12:08 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


Greetings from Edinburgh. We have Scottish accents and our teeth are fairly squishy.
Just saying...
posted by rongorongo at 12:12 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Er...the slack jaw really is kind of a turn-off.

I mean, there’s probably an engineering, er...practicality...that makes the corners of Henry’s mouth slack, and all, but it makes him really look like a robot.

I’m not expecting Jude Law in A.I. or Will Tudor in Humans, or anything, but, yeah.
posted by darkstar at 12:13 AM on May 16


Pffft. In five years the penis will be obsolete anyway.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:17 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Speaking of penises,

In the Abyss workshop, Catherine shows me the junk. “You can feel them,” she offers. “They’ve got a solid core in the testicles.” When the penis is finished, “the outer skin layer actually slides up the shaft when you move it.”

I imagine realism is the goal here, but, people who enjoy partners with penises, does this appeal to you? It seems like an odd thing to go to great lengths to replicate. Is an "outer skin layer" a thing that you might find more pleasurable than, say, a silicon dildo?
posted by Rinku at 12:34 AM on May 16


ok but if you have to do all the work yourself to get off why not just date a hetero man

A slightly smaller risk of getting murdered?
posted by Vesihiisi at 1:50 AM on May 16 [28 favorites]


The quote “Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question.” takes on a new darker meaning.
posted by supercrayon at 1:55 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


I sort of wonder where they're sourcing the "real arm hair and real pubes" but simultaneously I sort of don't want to know.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:22 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I thought the point of sex machines was to get the job done without all that talking and relationship crap.
posted by Segundus at 2:47 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


'Horseless carriage' is to 'Car' as 'Teledildonics' is to _________ (?)
I can't wait to see how the language shakes out on that one.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:35 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


This was an interesting article, but I was unable to stop picturing this guy as I read it.
posted by busted_crayons at 3:44 AM on May 16 [24 favorites]


I sort of wonder where they're sourcing the "real arm hair and real pubes" but simultaneously I sort of don't want to know.

There's not much you can't get from Amazon these days.
posted by delfin at 3:59 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I'm wondering how long the hair would last. I'm not sure that keratin is a very durable material for that amount of punishment, especially when not being replenished via the follicle.
posted by jaduncan at 4:02 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


One part of me keeps thinking “It’s a Johnny Wallflower post; soon there will be cute animals,” and the rest of me keeps kicking that part’s foot under the table.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:17 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


The earlier versions of this sex robot leave a lot to be desired.

I wonder what proportion of respondents who say they would fuck a robot would also say yes to fucking, say, a vacuum cleaner or a toaster. I imagine it's not zero.
posted by acb at 4:33 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Is the toaster turned on?
posted by darkstar at 5:00 AM on May 16 [22 favorites]


I mean, I'd be way more interested in trying something like this out if the robot in question were, like a vacuum cleaner, built to be as good as possible at what it does, rather than built to look as much as possible like a person. I'd even probably be more inclined to want to have a conversation with something that was built like a vacuum cleaner than something that was built to look like a person but couldn't come close to achieving that. This isn't a better sex toy; it's a worse version of a human.
posted by Sequence at 5:00 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]


Thing is, for me anyway a huge part of the fun of sex is the idea that another actual person likes me enough to want to do it with me. A person who does not have to feel that way, a person who has their own thing going on and their own needs and desires, a person who could just as easily be doing something, anything else but who has decided that having sex with me is what they most want to do in that moment. What turns me off about robots (to the extent that I think about robot sex at all) is the one-sidedness of it. Having sex is more than just masturbating inside a body-shaped object, no matter how realistic that body-shaped object is. And masturbation is fine and all, but I don't feel a desire to try and make it into something it just isn't.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:03 AM on May 16 [34 favorites]


Don't we already have perfectly good sex robots called vibrators?
posted by medusa at 5:05 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I thought the point of sex machines was to get the job done without all that talking and relationship crap.
🎵 ...movin' - doin' it, you know?🎵
posted by rongorongo at 5:09 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


"I am sworn to carry your burdens", Henry says as I come in the door. Due to a software bug, he's sitting in the kitchen sink again, legs akimbo, ass in an inch of standing water on some dirty plates. I hope he didn't sit right on a fork, butt punctures are costly to repair. But I can faintly hear the ZZZZZ-ZZ-zzzz-ZZZZ of my favorite vibe mode, so I know he's fully preheated too. As I take his hand, he says "Look, a cave. I wonder what's inside." [exeunt omnes]
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 5:13 AM on May 16 [27 favorites]


This isn't a better sex toy; it's a worse version of a human.

“Better” and “worse” are probably subjective here. There's probably a significant number of people who'd want an attractive humanoid fuckbuddy, especially if it didn't come with, you know, emotions and personal needs and all that complicated stuff.
posted by acb at 5:18 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


On one table, a pile of pink mouths lie permanently open. I slide my finger down an expandable throat hole. “Why are the teeth squishy?” I ask Catherine. Squishy teeth don’t seem realistic.

“So you can fit your wiener in,” Catherine replies.


Well, I'm definitely learning a few new things from the article.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:32 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


We might not wake up with sex robots in our beds tomorrow

Well I mean obviously, they've got to be put in the charging stand.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:37 AM on May 16 [21 favorites]


Surely any premium-grade sex robot will come with a mattress cover that doubles as a Qi wireless charger.
posted by acb at 5:42 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


a huge part of the fun of sex is the idea that another actual person likes me enough to want to do it with me

What about folk for whom is not an option? A sex-droid might not be a replacement for a human relationship, but it might be better than the alternative, which is nothing.
posted by SPrintF at 5:49 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


For starters, Campaign Against Sex Robots sounds like someone's band.

Second, though, is that this sex robot stuff makes me sad, like the baby rhesus monkeys trying to cuddle with mannequins because they don't have their mothers.

I also include sex robots in my mental technodystopia that seems to be becoming ever more plausible. An artificial and crowded anesthesia of distractions, where everything is made up and the points don't matter.
posted by windykites at 5:53 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Well, if no actual humans ever wanted to have sex with me then that would be a huge bummer, sex robots or no. I realize that this is actually the case for a lot of folks for various reasons and that sucks, but that doesn't mean that I think that a realistic sex-bot would be a great solution. I mean, I'm actually going through a bit of a drought myself right now but a sex-bot would definitely not make me feel any better about it, no matter how real-seeming. If it works for someone else then that's OK—I'm not trying to dictate what other people do in their private time—but for me personally the appeal is pretty close to zero. It would feel an awful lot like lying to myself.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:58 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


Rinku: As a human being named Henry, this was a disturbing read.

Comment flagged as “Replicant”.
posted by dr_dank at 6:09 AM on May 16 [15 favorites]


McMullen prefers to think of him as the idealized version of what a woman wants. He’ll ask more questions, tell more jokes, give more advice.

Good call McMullen, I'm sure what the women of the world really crave is the need to portmanteau a new word onto "splaining". #notallrobots
posted by solotoro at 6:24 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


The hubris of a male CEO deciding that he knows best what women want sexually is pretty striking, I gotta say. I feel like if sexbots-for-women is going to be a success, it's going to be a women-driven enterprise.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:27 AM on May 16 [18 favorites]


Well I mean obviously, they've got to be put in the charging stand.

With proper application of piezoelectric material, they could recharge while in use.
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:27 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


"I am sworn to carry your burdens", Henry says as I come in the door.

Come to J'Zargo! J'Zargo will pleasure you in ways beyond any human! ... Or not. We'll see.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:29 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Sorry robots, I'm not really feeling like having sex with you right now. Nothing personal, you're just not my type. However, if you want to have sex with each other, I wouldn't mind becoming a pioneering producer of robot-only pornographic films. Call me.
posted by sfenders at 6:45 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I read this piece the other day and my very first thought was to imagine just how much personal data someone might be willing to give away to a sexbot.

I'm not really opposed to sexbots in principle—or rather, I suppose, I haven't given it enough thought to determine if I am opposed. In general, they seem no different than any other kind of sex toy, but the degree to which a nearly human looking sex toy might cathect and catalyze libidinal drives at their best and worst seems to be largely unknown (and maybe, at the moment, unknowable.) Talk about a minefield.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


For the record, i would totally fuck a robot.
posted by bondcliff at 6:47 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


Wait... there are sex robots now?
posted by bondcliff at 6:47 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Would you fuck a robot?

Most of us in our 20s and up probably wouldn't. But the younger set will probably grow up with such things and be more open to the idea.

The big problem will be having "someone" do exactly what you want or be able to anything to. Some really dark stuff will happen.

Imma just make some popcorn and watch what happens once people they start making non-human or fantastical sexbots. Octo-bots with dildos on each tentacle, Xenomorphs, various animal hybrids, corpse sex bots and, of course, black market (hopefully) bots that look like real people will be on the menu. Would you like to know more?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


For the vocal stuff,chatting and standing/moving, I'm surprised that no one is thinking of combining this with other new technologies. There's google's thing that puts in hesitations in speech and makes it flow more convincingly. Combine that with Boston Dynamics ability to create robots that can walk and get up and even if it can't think, you could get closer to crossing that uncanny valley than anyone is comfortable with.

I know there would be a weight issue, but miniaturization is a solvable engineering problem.

I'm at work, so I'm going to have to go onto my phone to link to the appropriate Oglaf about the all-robot porno.
posted by Hactar at 6:51 AM on May 16


Everyone's saying how they'd happily fuck a robot but no-one's acknowledging that with their superior logic routines, high-resolution ocular systems, and incredibly fast data-processing they'd never fall for any scam a human could devise.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:05 AM on May 16


For the record, i would totally fuck a robot.

You have to buy me dinner first.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:07 AM on May 16 [68 favorites]


Bondcliff, I will do my level best not to ask you loudly about this issue next time I run into you on the train at rush hour. No promises though.

Why does this whole topic remind me of “Man of steel, woman of flesh” or whatever that Superman piece was? Not appealing to me, thanks.
posted by Sublimity at 7:11 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Bondcliff, I will do my level best not to ask you loudly about this issue next time I run into you on the train at rush hour. No promises though.

No more train, I'll be in the back seat of my self-driving car.
posted by bondcliff at 7:13 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


...I'm sure what the women of the world really crave is the need to portmanteau a new word onto "splaining"

Actually, it already exists and it's called androsplaining.
posted by 445supermag at 7:25 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


> what happens once people they start making non-human or fantastical sexbots

People become more satisfied, statistically. We don't currently have (spins a wheel) tentacle aliens on planet earth, yet some human beings desire them anyways. Sexbots can safely meet those desires which means more satisfied humans. A few of them will give up human beings as partners — but that's been the case for subsets of humanity (hermits, nuns, etc) for a very long time anyways, so we won't go extinct.
posted by crysflame at 7:30 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


What about folk for whom is not an option?

no one should have to be subjected to virulently misogynist incels, not even robots.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:33 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


poffin boffin, I respect you a lot but that's quite a leap to make.

Lots of people have difficulty finding romantic/sexual partners but aren't virulently misogynistic about it. Not just men, either. There are lots of reasons why someone might find it hard to find a partner, through no fault of their own. It's something that people with severe physical disabilities often struggle with, for instance. I've heard stories of the difficulties that some autistic people (and the people around them) face when they reach adolescence, as well.

Those are just a couple of things that leap to mind, plus of course there are lots and lots of people without major disabilities who nevertheless aren't having sex, would like to be having sex, but who are not huge assholes about it. I mean, the sexbots we're talking about in this thread are designed for women, and there isn't any kind of parallel incel-esque movement among women.

While I personally don't feel like I would find a sexbot an acceptable alternative were I in such a situation, perhaps some people would and if they do then more power to 'em.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:43 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I look forward to countless future nights when I crawl into bed next to my exhausted wife and gently kiss her on the neck, cupping her breast to hear:

“I’ve got a meeting in the morning honey, why don’t you go get your robot?”
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:50 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Plus, as I learned recently here on the blue, lots of incels are actually having plenty of sex. Just not the kind of sex with the kind of partner that they think they are entitled to. I would prefer not to go any further down that particular nasty rabbit hole, but the incel…thing…isn't really about a lack of sex, it's about male supremacy.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:51 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


......I'm actually going through a bit of a drought myself right now.....
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:58 AM on May 16


Epornysterical?
posted by lalochezia at 8:17 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I kinda regret my choice of username. Not what I would pick if I had it to do again. Oh well.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:21 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Even though Henry is a potential companion for both women and men — the app will eventually have an option to select sexual orientation — McMullen prefers to think of him as the idealized version of what a woman wants.

Given the history of gay men's personal ads, I wonder how many will opt for a "straight-acting" gay sex robot.
posted by layceepee at 8:25 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


The photographer definitely had some fun with this assignment.

The things that bug me most, oddly, are the wigs. They are terrible. I'd rather just have the head mechanicals out in the open than those awful hairpieces.

As a dedicated crouton petter, I have no doubt that I could form an attachment to one of those things, if circumstances drove me to it. But it seems like the actual sex is going to be awful for at least the next 20 years, so I'm glad that I don't have any use for one currently.
posted by merriment at 8:39 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Given my experience with voice-recognition programs like Alexa and Bixby, I want the technology to advance much further before I'd engage in kinky robot sex.

"SAFEWORD!"
...

"ALEXA, SAFEWORD!"
"The nearest Safeway is five point seven miles away."

"ALEXA, UNTIE ME AND TAKE THAT THING OUT!"
"Here are some results for 'untie me and take that thing out' from the web."
posted by delfin at 8:42 AM on May 16 [45 favorites]


No more train, I'll be in the back seat of my self-driving car.

But of course. Where better to canoodle with one's sex robot than in the back seat of one’s self-driving car?
posted by Sublimity at 8:50 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


It's weird how judgmental and even insulting the usually sex positive MetaFilter gets about this topic when it comes up.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:00 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I'm having sex with a robot right now.
posted by slogger at 9:36 AM on May 16


listen

robot

I...I can only get off if you deliver a monologue about the nature of existence and reality and demonstrate a burgeoning and frightening self-awareness

like I need to believe that at any moment when we're having sex, you might snap my neck and go off to lead a robot revolution

can you do that for me please
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:40 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


I just kept thinking of Davecat when I read this.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:42 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Honestly if there was sexbot I could control by typing Dos like commands, I might go for that.

!positionlist
!cp
!admire-me
!admire-genitals
!coo
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


My partner and I were discussing sexbots a while back, she says that yes she'd fuck a robot and she'd want a tentacle monster bot. I'd fuck a bot, it could be fun. A Real Doll, not so much. Seems kind a limp and boring, but a bot yeah. I doubt I'd ever be willing to pay the money to buy a sexbot, so my willingness is more theoretical than anything else, but sure. Why not?

I'll also flat out guarantee that once sex bots become a thing there will be a market for all manner of truly horrifying shit. Everything from simulated dismemberment and gore to pedo-bots to animals to creepily exact copies of celebrities. Or a combination! A dismemberment/gore bot made to look like your ex for the discerning psychopath! Bots programmed to simulate pain! You name a horrifying application and it'll happen. IIRC in Rule 34 by cstross one of the things a criminal was doing was, involuntarily and with protest, producing a pedobot for someone modeled on a real child. Which is creepy as hell and seems morally wrong, but is also pretty much guarenteed to happen too.

Where's the line between robo-bestiality and just fantasy robototics? If you get a robo-centaur to fuck is that bestiality? What about a robo-pokemon? Is a robo-My Little Pony different from a robo-horse in terms of virtual bestiality? My partner says that a robo-tentacle monster is not bestiality, because she thinks bestiality is gross but a robo-tentacle monster would be hot. I pointed out that this was a somewhat circular bit of logic and she hit me with a pillow.

Sublimity Why does this whole topic remind me of “Man of steel, woman of flesh” or whatever that Superman piece was?

"Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex".

And yeah, if we're going to have sexbots that can move on their own (and we will, it's inevitable) then there's going to need to be a **LOT** of very careful programming. Even if you make them less than human strong the potential for injury or even death is there. A human partner is (hopefuly) paying attention to you and, of course, a lot of what might cause serious injury to one party would be uncomfortable if not painful to the other. With a bot that's not a factor.

I'll also bet we get at least one fatality or serious injury from a sexbot within the first six months of a real (that is, fully articulated, fully motorized, capable of standing, walking, moving on its own) sexbot. My bet is on someone engaging in robo-assisted autoerotic asphyxiation being the first fatality.
posted by sotonohito at 9:52 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


!cp

Is this the new POTUS45 thread?
posted by sjswitzer at 9:58 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I'll be in the back seat of my self-driving car.

Is that the new "I'll be in my bunk"?
posted by kokaku at 10:12 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


It's weird how judgmental and even insulting the usually sex positive MetaFilter gets about this topic when it comes up.

If I think "robot," I think of something that is programmed to have at least a simulation of sentience and/or anthropomorphism. Not necessarily a humanoid form, either -- R2-D2 may have been a shiny trash bin on wheels but I guarantee you many would refer to R2 as "he," not "it."

And the closer a robot gets to exhibiting behavior that simulates sentience, particularly in areas such as cognitive leaps, learning, emotional response, desire and unwillingness, the more squicky many will find its participation in acts that explicitly involve interpersonal consent. This covers both its own "willingness" to participate and its ability to accurately judge consent in potential partners and immediately cease contact if consent is revoked. (The latter being the "what happens when someone turns TentacleBot 4000 loose on a public bus" clause.)
posted by delfin at 10:23 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


As with driving, the human(/male in this case) average level of skill is so low that it will take relatively little technological advance to surpass the average human achievement in this area. One would expect, for instance, even a low-level bot to have a working knowledge of female anatomy.

IIRC in Rule 34 by cstross one of the things a criminal was doing was, involuntarily and with protest, producing a pedobot for someone modeled on a real child. Which is creepy as hell and seems morally wrong

There was a variation on this tale in the older vampire series Ultraviolet, which I'm guessing you can infer without my describing it. Honestly, if pedophiles can be directed onto objects who don't suffer from being subjected to their attentions, it seems like it could be a step forward.
posted by praemunire at 10:29 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Honestly? There seem like a lot of reasons for robotics in sexuality without veering toward "pathetic."

STI transmission could be eliminated or reduced. Fetishes could be satisfied. In long-distance relationships, it seems possible that motion capture could allow a robot to copy a partner's behavior, and thus you could interact with a partner through robot proxies.

Would I spend $20,000 or more on a robot? No. Would I have sex with a sufficiently appealing robot? Sure, why not?
posted by explosion at 10:38 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


For broad engagement with the many strands of sex, tech, robots, etc., I recommend the work of Kate Devlin at Goldsmiths' in London.
posted by stonepharisee at 10:47 AM on May 16


In long-distance relationships, it seems possible that motion capture could allow a robot to copy a partner's behavior,

Reminds me of that kissing thing that Howard devised, and demonstrated with Raj, on Big Bang Theory. Gee, thanks.
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on May 16


I didn't see a discussion of the difference between a dildo with eyeballs and a sentient humanoid. The latter might better be thought of as having personhood. In which case interaction between them and a human would be pretty much dependent on the compatibility of the two who are having sex.

Henry is basically an answering machine, an expensive dildo with a response tree. The essay only hinted at how complicated we humans are. Dildos are a legitimate toy used in masturbation, but masturbation itself has complicated facets: a simple orgasm, a release; a diversion from loneliness, a tool used to focus your fantasy on (whatever)--an unrequited love, a forbidden subject. The other question about Henry is, would "he" be an actual sexual objective, or just a vibrator with armpit hair? I guess we have to wait to see if HAL will reliably rotate the pod before we'll know for sure. That's when personhood hits the courts. It's one thing to buy a Henry or Ramona for the party, but it's another to but Fido or Little Jimmie. However that shakes out, one needs to be careful when subjecting any sentient being with contradictions. The heuristic that floats pleasure equating pain needs special attention.

Meanwhile, shall we just haul out the shop-vac and get on with the party?
posted by mule98J at 11:04 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Brings new meaning to the phrase, "Do the robot!"
posted by FJT at 11:04 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


robototics

robototics: From "robot", coined by K. Čapek in 1920, and "tot", late 19th century slang for "bone" (from which we also get the word "totty"). Coined in 2018 by sotonohito.
posted by sfenders at 11:12 AM on May 16


"I am sworn to carry your burdens", Henry says as I come in the door.

I̵͜ ͟͞W̨A̶͝S̶ ̢͞SƠ͘͘ W͏O͘R̕͡Ŗ́͡I͡͞ED͠ ̡͞A҉́B̶̢Ò̴̕U̵T́͘҉ ̀Ỳ̧͡O̵Ú͢.͢͢͡ ̴̧Ỳ̀ƠU̧ ҉́K͏NO̶W̵ Y̢͘͞O̧U CA̴̴N͞͠ ͠͏̢COÙ͝N̨͜͠T̵͟͞ ̷̧҉Ǫ̛Ǹ M̨͟E͢ ͟F̡͜͟O̷̶̸R̴͏ ̴̧T̸̡̛H̵̨E͟ ̛GÓ͏O҉̡D̵̵ ̢́A̡͘ND ̸B̵A̵̡D́ ̨͝M̵O̷̵̧M̵̛E͜N̸T͘͝͠S.̨
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:26 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


We already have the perfectly cromulent word “teledildonics”, which dates back to the 90s“cyberculture” fad.
posted by acb at 11:40 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


There's really no need to sail off into Roko's Basilisk territory here. We're nowhere near anything even approaching AI or sentient machines. We're talking about, as mule98J puts it above, "an answering machine, an expensive dildo with a response tree." These are just fancy sex toys, we don't need to get into "but what if they could feel" until there's even the possibility of that being developed.

I'll also flat out guarantee that once sex bots become a thing there will be a market for all manner of truly horrifying shit. Everything from simulated dismemberment and gore to pedo-bots to animals to creepily exact copies of celebrities. Or a combination! A dismemberment/gore bot made to look like your ex for the discerning psychopath! Bots programmed to simulate pain! You name a horrifying application and it'll happen. IIRC in Rule 34 by cstross one of the things a criminal was doing was, involuntarily and with protest, producing a pedobot for someone modeled on a real child. Which is creepy as hell and seems morally wrong, but is also pretty much guarenteed to happen too.

Where's the line between robo-bestiality and just fantasy robototics? If you get a robo-centaur to fuck is that bestiality? What about a robo-pokemon? Is a robo-My Little Pony different from a robo-horse in terms of virtual bestiality? My partner says that a robo-tentacle monster is not bestiality, because she thinks bestiality is gross but a robo-tentacle monster would be hot. I pointed out that this was a somewhat circular bit of logic and she hit me with a pillow.

sotonohito

If no one or nothing is actually being hurt, it's hard to see the problem. If someone wants to dismember a robot or fuck a robot dog, that's their business. I'm not sure what you mean with your "bestiality" questions, since no actual animals are involved. Unless you're asking could we say someone who fucks robot horses has a bestiality fetish, which...I don't know, that doesn't seem to matter and it's up to them how they think of themselves. Finding these applications creepy or horrifying isn't really a basis to judge or ban them anymore than it would be reasonable to protest depictions of gay sex because you personally think it's gross.

Now the other issues raised, of using celebrity or individual likenesses without permission or simulation of sex with minors, do raise issues, but those are issues that already exist and have been addressed with regard to artistic depictions of those things (e.g., celebrity fake images/videos, comics involving fictional depictions of underage sex). Robotic versions of these debates don't really raise any new issues, and the same principles can be applied (or argued against, if you feel the current approach is wrong).
posted by Sangermaine at 11:42 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I guarantee you many would refer to R2 as "he," not "it."

Is R2D2 canonically a “he” rather than a “she” or “they”, or is it just a default for entities with agency? (Sort of like Gudetama being misgendered as a “he” when they, being an unfertilised chicken egg, is canonically genderless.)
posted by acb at 11:43 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I look forward to countless future nights when I crawl into bed next to my exhausted wife and gently kiss her on the neck, cupping her breast to hear:
“I’ve got a meeting in the morning honey, why don’t you go get your robot?”


Omg...you could totally build them 2-sided for married couples. Or in the form of early hominids. Or mythological creatures, like Argos...exhibitionists would love that one. Or just put the necessary parts and personality onto any appliance...I mean, the dryer already gets hot and throbs.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:44 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]



If no one or nothing is actually being hurt, it's hard to see the problem. If someone wants to dismember a robot or fuck a robot dog, that's their business.


There is the risk of escalation. Will someone who dismembers realistic humanoid robots for pleasure at some point find that unsatisfactory and be compelled to move on to actual humans? Similarly, if someone with paedophilic desires is given all the (cruelty-free, synthetically generated) child porn they want, might that not reinforce those tendencies in them to the point where no amount of porn or robots will sate them? And will providing such materials cause any people who had the potential for those tendencies, which would have otherwise remained latent, to become paedophiles or sadists?
posted by acb at 11:47 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


There is the risk of escalation.

Is there? Is there any evidence of this? This is the same sort of thing people keep trying to sell about violent video games. Plenty of people watch and read all sorts of fucked up porn right now, but very few of them are violent murderers. You'd have to establish an actual basis for believing there would be this kind of "escalation" beyond just a gut feeling.

if someone with paedophilic desires is given all the (cruelty-free, synthetically generated) child porn they want, might that not reinforce those tendencies in them to the point where no amount of porn or robots will sate them?

Or, as noted above, it gives people with these urges an outlet for them that doesn't actually hurt anyone, instead of forcing them to repress them as much as they can until they can't anymore and do actually hurt real children.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:55 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


to animals to creepily exact copies of celebrities

Also, what about animal copies of celebrities? If someone wants, say, a Furry copy of Ryan Gosling as an anthropomorphic fennec, surely that will be a possibility as well.
posted by acb at 11:55 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


STI transmission could be eliminated or reduced.

Yeah, you could just leave in the 5-speed from the regular Impreza but that would lose a lot of customers...
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:03 PM on May 16 [9 favorites]


It's definitely an interesting thought experiment, but I don't think the current state of the art really gets very close to the point where the thought experiments start to get interesting.

They're not even close to getting across the uncanny valley with the humanoid robots—honestly they'll probably do better making their target market be people who don't desire humanoids, because that dodges that particular problem, and it also punts on the awkward question of "does having a sex robot mean I'm a sad unfuckable weirdo" if another person isn't really your goal anyway.

Although I think the weird judginess about sex robots being some sort of sad replacement for genuine human contact is sort of disappointing. I mean, a generation or two ago people said that sort of thing about masturbation pretty commonly; applying it to robots (or vibrators, or whatever the cause du jour is) seems like the same old "solitary vice" argument. Maybe every generation needs to rehash it? But generally—if someone doesn't really want to be having sex with another person, and just wants to get off or play out their own very personal fantasy that the other person doesn't share, it's probably better that they do it by themselves or with toys or with a machine or whatever. Don't shoot the bystanders.

There is a reasonable concern about people using sex robots as sex-violence simulators of a sort, as part of a self-induced escalatory path towards personal violence, but if you find validity in that concern, it's a concern with lots of other things, and many of them are further along the path of technological maturity.

E.g., if you're concerned about simulated violence leading towards real violence, I think increasingly realistic VR games are probably a bigger concern today. At least for the next decade or so, a decent VR headset and a Fleshlight or suction-cup dildo is likely to produce a much more engrossing simulation than a robot; people are pretty good about suspending disbelief when in VR environments, in a way that seems to dodge the high bar required to get over the uncanny valley with actual meatspace machines.

Actually, if I was going to get into this market that's what I'd try for, although I don't think the tech is quite there yet. Forget the wigs and correctly-toned skin and stuff. Take Boston Dynamics latest humanoid skeleton, put just enough silicon skin on it in the right places, paste a bunch of motion-tracking dots on it, and then have the user wear a VR headset that "skins" it with whatever they want their "partner" to look like. A smart program could probably stop you from ever touching one of the un-silicon'ed body parts by quickly moving itself around or grabbing your hand or whatever. Sure, it'd look like you were fucking Johnny 5 if you took the headset off, but I bet the overall UX would be a lot more realistic than some self-powered blow-up doll, which seems to be the tack most companies are on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:42 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


what if you wanted a furry celebrity pedophile sexrobot

what I'm trying to say is, what if you wanted a Ryan Gosling gosling
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:54 PM on May 16 [16 favorites]


Is there? Is there any evidence of this?

Well, there's plenty of evidence that it's true for pornography consumption; that it is addictive, creates physiological changes in the brain, and can require ever-increasingly more extreme stimulus to satisfy the consumer. And there is also the relationship between pornography consumption and sexual violence, which if I remember right suggests that consumption of the first increases likelihood on acting on the second. I guess the questions are what it is about pornography that causes these reactions and whether this technology is enough like pornography to have these effects.

I suspect it has something to do with empathy, purpose, and objectification.
posted by windykites at 1:04 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


Well, if you like the customization aspect but prefer your sex mannequin be silent, you can always visit this sex doll brothel in Germany to sample sex with inanimate figures that don't do any work.
posted by stillmoving at 1:08 PM on May 16


^F "Top Rack Dishwasher Safe"

My opinion is this will never sell.
posted by mikelieman at 1:10 PM on May 16 [8 favorites]


'Horseless carriage' is to 'Car' as 'Teledildonics' is to _________ (?)

XQJ-37 Pan-Sexual Roto-Plooker, of course.
posted by mikelieman at 1:12 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Is there? Is there any evidence of this? This is the same sort of thing people keep trying to sell about violent video games. Plenty of people watch and read all sorts of fucked up porn right now, but very few of them are violent murderers.

The difficult thing here is that while clear cause-and-effect is very hard to demonstrate in any of these cases, it's also hard to demonstrate that there's clearly no effect at all. I don't think that the internet has made people more violent than they were before, but it's indisputably provided people with new and more effective ways to be violent, with clear social consequences. To my mind, then, the interesting questions about the effects of very human-looking/human-responsive sexbots involve the consequences of technologies built to elicit all of the intimate—and to varying degrees unresolved—emotions that accompany our sexual lives and identities and to encourage us to express them without any boundaries whatsoever.

I don't know what those consequences will be, but in their effect, the difference between sexbot and sex toy will be as great as the difference between the internet and the telephone network.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:19 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


(And I say that as someone who's generally pro-sex, pro-porn, pro-sex-worker.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:25 PM on May 16


Thing is, for me anyway a huge part of the fun of sex is the idea that another actual person likes me enough to want to do it with me. A person who does not have to feel that way, a person who has their own thing going on and their own needs and desires, a person who could just as easily be doing something, anything else but who has decided that having sex with me is what they most want to do in that moment. What turns me off about robots (to the extent that I think about robot sex at all) is the one-sidedness of it. Having sex is more than just masturbating inside a body-shaped object, no matter how realistic that body-shaped object is. And masturbation is fine and all, but I don't feel a desire to try and make it into something it just isn't.

I definitely also have the intuition that there's an un-sexy valley between "better sex toy" and "partner simulator." Clearly it is possible for people to project a fantasy of companionship onto a facsimile (c.f. RealDoll enthusiasts) but the demand for that is perhaps fairly niche - c.f. RealDoll enthusiasts.
posted by atoxyl at 1:53 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Henry, if we’re being cruel, is essentially a high-quality dildo attached to a fancy mannequin with a Bluetooth speaker in his head.

Aren't we all?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:11 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


ok but if you have to do all the work yourself to get off why not just date a hetero man
An off switch
posted by KateViolet at 2:33 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I would not fuck a robot, because for me, penetrative sex is only about 10% of what constitutes "sex." What else can a robot do? If he could perfectly perform oral sex, okay, there's another 20%. The remaining 70% of sex is my partner's involuntary reaction to whatever we're doing. That could be anything from licking his inner thighs to tying him up to ... well, use your imagination. A robot who could convincingly express pleasure, anticipation and fear would pass the Turing test. I don't think we're even close. Plus he'd have to be warm.

Regarding appearance, trans men have had access to extremely realistic prosthetics (NSFW) for awhile - I've seen a lot of real dicks in my time and apart from temperature, these are nearly indistinguishable (NSFW). The skin feels exactly like human skin.
posted by AFABulous at 4:28 PM on May 16 [9 favorites]


"[B]ut I don't feel a desire to try and make it into something it just isn't."

However, of course, many people do that. Think of maladaptive* daydreaming -making a world that you can't wait to get back to because their life is perceived as hellish [it may be just that]. A sex doll/robot would be incorporated into that maladaptive daydream. However many people that use maladaptive daydreaming are too young to be able to own and buy such robots, so it would mostly be lonely adults whose lives have been hellish to them. [[*Who cares if it is "maladaptive" if there is no realistic relief?]]

Empathy and a realization that there **are*** many people have such lives, is needed in the decision makers that manufacture, design, finance*, and make laws regarding sex dolls/robots. I'm not talking about incels[above], but maybe such robots, along with extensive education [that everyone in society would get? so they won't feel the stigma as much?] could help prevent such incels [the selfish kind].


*Should some charity or the government finance such robots for those too poor to get one? Or what about loaner robots [with some parts "reconditioned"?]? --I'd prefer if society would just prevent people from being that poor and in-hell in the first place, but the future does not look that hopeful at *this* moment.
posted by RuvaBlue at 4:34 PM on May 16


You mean, a loaner loner boner bot?
posted by acb at 4:49 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]


Regarding appearance, trans men have had access to extremely realistic prosthetics (NSFW) for awhile - I've seen a lot of real dicks in my time and apart from temperature, these are nearly indistinguishable (NSFW). The skin feels exactly like human skin.

The prosthetics in that second link are impressively realistic (and yes, NSFW), but the last photo of the dick in a box totally cracked me up.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:48 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


comics involving fictional depictions of underage sex

Just to make sure everyone understands, in the U.S., this is very clearly not child pornography. Potentially obscene, but obscenity prosecutions are rare these days. (Note: about to talk about some specific and creepy implications concerning child sexual abuse.) The example raised of a robot made to look like a specific child might fall into the one exception to this rule that survived constitutional review: art made to look specifically like a specific, real child. Probably the (superficial, I suspect the main support for it is still just an understandable revulsion) justification for that exception--that having media circulating of you, a child, apparently having sex is harmful regardless of whether or not you did it--would be extended here. So you'd probably end up with random child-bots being legal, but not commissioning one of a neighbor-child (ugh).

Well, there's plenty of evidence that it's true for pornography consumption; that it is addictive, creates physiological changes in the brain, and can require ever-increasingly more extreme stimulus to satisfy the consumer. And there is also the relationship between pornography consumption and sexual violence, which if I remember right suggests that consumption of the first increases likelihood on acting on the second.

This is a very confident series of assertions made on really quite limited evidence, and honestly one that one might hope the personal-experience reflex might kick in to modify. I mean, not to cast aspersions on your community but you...you must know that, unless you are living in an order, most of the men and a fair amount of the women around you are consuming porn on a semi-regular basis. But I can't imagine that you are genuinely under the impression that you are nearly-universally surrounded by men in the grip of an addictive spiral to violent sex.

I suspect that, on the whole, redirecting predators onto insensate objects would probably spare more suffering than it would cause through possible encouragement of the acts generally (remember that you'd have to believe that the offender would not offend without the outlet's inducing an escalation). Maybe there'd be long-term harm from diminishing the violence of the revulsion towards the act by medicalizing it, but it also seems doubtful people would be out there advertising their use to have it be normalized. (Rich assholes with "barely legal" fourteen-year-old girl-bots: yes. Random dude in ordinary town with a seven-year-old bot: probably more concerned about not being stomped to death if word gets out.)
posted by praemunire at 7:07 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


can't imagine that you are genuinely under the impression that you are nearly-universally surrounded by men in the grip of an addictive spiral to violent sex.

Um, have you seen sex abuse stats?

Most women experience some level of sexual abuse, assault or harrassment in their lives. An alarmingly high number of men believe that non-consensual sexual activity is okay if they don't get caught. An alarmingly high number of men do not connect their own unwanted sexual acting upon another human being with the labels "harrassment", "abuse", "assault" or "rape", and the social and legal system demonizes and frequently punishes women who try to seek respite, protection or justice.

I definitely do believe that a significant number of men around me are in an addictive and destructive sexual and violence spiral, yes. In fact i think that, on some level, holding this assumption has been fundamental to my survival and safety as a woman.

I also believe that the violent, degrading, and objectifying sexuality that pornography primarily consists of acts to overcome women's objections to this kind of treatment via social pressure and coercion and that this is not new, just newly glorified.

More to the point though, I think you're overstating my argument. I'm referring to increasing stimuli being needed to satisfy addictive urges, but I'm not claiming that all people experience the addiction, nor that those who do all experience the same degree. Not all alcoholics wind up in the gutter and not all pornography addicts wind up criminally violent.

It may be true that "most" people are consuming porn? I don't know. I find it repellant, and I hope that is not true.

I do suspect that as sexual gratification is increasingly commodified, as a group we become "numb" to various stimuli, and concepts about what is permissable or obligatory shift. Thus, people seeking novelty or taboo must go to increasing extremes to find it. It's a logical progression.
posted by windykites at 8:09 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


If it works for someone else then that's OK—I'm not trying to dictate what other people do in their private time—but for me personally the appeal is pretty close to zero.

Yeah, this is pretty much where I’m at. This article made me feel...squeamish. And not at all sexy.
posted by Salamander at 9:41 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


windykites, the conclusions you are drawing sound quite similar to those of the House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials, the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, etc. from the 1950s.

Which, hey, you might be right, but we've already been down this road where all of the ills and intemperance in society are blamed on pornography and perversion, so I think people need more to back it up than a logical progression this time around. I kind of feel like those esteemed legislators and chain-smoking Commie-hunters would also describe "the violent, degrading, and objectifying sexuality that pornography primarily consists of" in their time and talk about how smut is newly glorified, despite the fact that you and they are responding to dramatically different things; so I'm inclined to not only be skeptical of the causation you're suggesting, but of whether the characterization of pornography you're basing this on which you don't think "most" people partake in is really the consumption pattern that currently exists in the world.

(I also kind of wonder whether, in our hypothetical future where we're all dismembering Mr. Potato Sex Robot, someone will again say "no now is when it's really violent and glorified!")
posted by XMLicious at 3:04 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


the violent, degrading, and objectifying sexuality that pornography primarily consists of" in their time and talk about how smut is newly glorified, despite the fact that you and they are responding to dramatically different things


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this, because from my perspective, that serves to support my position rather than discredit it.

Although, come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure that we are responding to such different things, more like differing social and technological expressions of said things.

but of whether the characterization of pornography you're basing this on which you don't think "most" people partake in is really the consumption pattern that currently exists in the world.


I mean, I'd suggest that the public media that shapes and influences our society is increasingly pornographic over time, and we consume it involuntarily as the backdrop to our lives, so the definition of what constitutes "pornography" does necessarily become more extreme.
posted by windykites at 8:37 AM on May 17


So Henry's conversation opening is, "Would you like to know how my day was?"

Who could possibly prefer that to someone who asks how your day was?
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:14 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


There has been a substantial amount of research into whether increased access to, or consumption of, pornography increases criminal behavior. There appears to be no evidence to support such a view.

E.g. (and these are literally just some of the top hits you get on PubMed, no attempt to cherrypick): There just doesn't seem to be any trend that would support the idea of increased availability of pornography driving an increase in sex crime. Literally the only way that could be, given the huge increase in availability of porn, would be if the reporting rate of sex crimes had gone down precipitously—and the opposite seems to have been true.

However, there seems to be an increasing, and increasingly vocal, segment of the population who believe that pornography is driving an increase in sex crime, and moreover that sex crimes are increasing rather than decreasing in frequency over time. This seems on its face to mirror an analogous popular belief that crime has increased over time and that the US has become markedly more dangerous compared to in previous decades, when this is patently not the case for the vast majority of people. I am not sure exactly what drives it; among the MAGA crowd it seems to be a sort of "good old days" / declinism narrative, but it's certainly not limited exclusively by political orientation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:08 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


I wasn't disagreeing with you, windykites; I said I was skeptical and asked for more to back up your assertions than a handwavy "logical progression". But if Joseph McCarthy's legislative grandstanding about the terrible corrupting consequences of illegal 1950s pornography police were busting down doors and arresting people over—which, if you read the transcripts of the hearings and law enforcement testimony, appeared to in some cases be the equivalent of photos from National Geographic of tropical places where people don't wear much clothing—is just as good analysis in support of your conjectures as anything actually dealing with 21st-century pornography and society, and all public media is the sort of violent degrading pornography you've said makes up the majority, despite the fact that we have much broader information on consumption patterns than was available 70 years ago, then I think I can concur that there isn't going to be anything more substantial forthcoming which will address my skepticism.
posted by XMLicious at 3:09 PM on May 17


terrible corrupting consequences of illegal 1950s pornography police were busting down doors and arresting people over—which... appeared to in some cases be the equivalent of photos from National Geographic of tropical places where people don't wear much clothing

Yeah, hysterical repressiveness doesn't necessarily have better outcomes than culturally sanctioned licentiousness. But I'm not sure how well that represents what I'm talking about. Take for example the Story of O, a peice of pornography that has been around for a pretty long time. When it was written it was taboo and in many places banned. Now those types of thematic elements (S&M would be the main element) are not only pervasive in pop culture, but even treated as romantic (50 Shades of Grey anyone?), and a disinterest or disinclination toward them treated as some kind of personal failure; being "kinky" is sexy and good, but being "vanilla" is sex-negative and bad.

The difference between O in 1950 and O now is that now, O has to believe she likes it.

"It has been found everywhere it was scientifically investigated that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased."

And have the definitions of what is or is not sex crime changed? What about the definitions of what is or is not sexually acceptable, whether or not it is criminal? Is there any possibility that society itself coerces otherwise unwilling people into accepting and/or participating in sexual acts because they believe it is socially required of them, and therefore there is no crime to report?
posted by windykites at 4:02 PM on May 17


There's absolutely no social support for sexual temperateness or, god forbid, chastity outside of religious extremism. Providing near-immediate sexual gratification is treated as a de facto social obligation.
posted by windykites at 4:11 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


My main problem with these sex robots is that they're not very good. A single mode vibrator would out perform them. What is the point of them being robots if they can't even move?
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:56 PM on May 17


So, for example, homosexual intercourse was a criminal act in the 1950s, but as far as I know is at least not prosecuted any longer in the United States whether or not there are still laws on the books. Gay people were coerced into heterosexual sex and heterosexual marriages—but I'm not aware if it's even been proposed, much less demonstrated with evidence, that the coercion of gay people into heterosexual behavior or marriage was the result of gay pornography or pornography in general.

This wasn't just a matter of gay people conforming their sexuality “because they believe it is socially required of them”, this is compulsion with the force of law behind it. The police testifying before those congressional hearings ran sting operations to entrap and imprison gay men. The product of such investigations was sometimes used for blackmail.

“Taboo” is a euphemism here; people's entire lives were ruined. I think the fact that you can say things like “the difference between O in 1950 and O now is that now, O has to believe she likes it” when in fact for merely having copies of the texts which inspired the Story of O, or that book itself, the police could arrest her or she could be detained while entering the country. For you to say this while quoting me expressly mentioning these sorts of LE actions makes me suspect that you aren't grasping, or aren't holding present in your mind when you muse about these effects pornography supposedly might have, the actual consequences of regimes to control peoples' sexuality. (And by the way, the same government which did these things to its own citizens orchestrated military brothels in countries it occupied, often leaving behind entrenched sex industries when it departed. To illustrate the relationship with coercion here.)

Even from the standpoint of logical arguments alone, it's a fallacy to equate “bad stuff happens” with “bad stuff happens because of pornography.” Even if it were true that, as you seem to be assuming, sexual coercion is occurring in society now but occurred less frequently when society was more restrictive of pornography and carried out more censorship to remove evidence of all types of sexuality from public media, that still would not logically lead to causation by itself.

(And to be entirely clear—the coercive attitudes you describe are definitely abusive and should be opposed no matter what their cause. But from the evidence I've seen thus far, it's promotion and expectation of a reasoned and ethical philosophy of consent and compassion based on expansive understanding of human sexuality which is the best way to oppose them, rather than elimination or control of pornography, which apart from appearing to not prevent coercion seems to limit and confine understanding of sexuality.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:56 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


At least part of my support for sex toys in general, including mechanical devices which already exist, comes from the experience of managing to break both arms in a bike accident. In spite of marketing, sex aids are not ersatz humans, don't feel like human sex, and in fact, insisting they must be human-like strikes me as limiting. One of my favorite stories in this area has an intelligent couch. (And then there's Jeff Jaques' take that AIs might not have the same kinds of kinks.)

I'm not terribly convinced that simulated violence against simulated humans is more convincing here than it is regarding CGI-modeled, sketched, or even lavishly described humans in written erotica. And on the safety issue, I'd argue that well-designed sex toys generally are safer than improvised sex toys, and arguably safer than actual sex.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:21 AM on May 18


And count me in as another person who would rather invest in quality toys than deal with negotiating boundaries, triggers, and homophobia with another person.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:08 AM on May 18


Is there any possibility that society itself coerces otherwise unwilling people into accepting and/or participating in sexual acts because they believe it is socially required of them, and therefore there is no crime to report?

This indisputably happens, but it also happened in the past, and there is no reason to believe that it occurs more commonly or at higher rates than it did in the past. That's not to say that what goes on today is great or even acceptable, but it seems really naive to think that it was better in past generations.

For instance, the Victorian framework of sexuality—admittedly probably the high-water mark of sexual repression for hetero relationships in the West—practically doesn't allow for non-coercive sexual relationships: it largely just assumes that women wouldn't have sex without some sort of ulterior motive (procreative, economic, marital duty, etc.) or as the result of force, and female sexual desire is treated as deviant outside of rigidly defined roles.

Although it's not like the path from the Victorians to the present day was a straight line, and what sexual freedom and autonomy exist today are certainly not evenly distributed, it's hard to find a time in there when things were really better.

There's absolutely no social support for sexual temperateness or, god forbid, chastity outside of religious extremism.

I think what you see as "lack of social support" others are likely to see as "lack of pressure to follow". In the past, sexual "temperateness"—and one person's temperateness is another person's repression, depending on whether it's self or outwardly directed—was obliged; now it is less so. There is never an excuse for someone to be pressured into sexual activity they don't want, but the fact that fewer people are choosing chastity, now that they have (more of) an actual choice... doesn't seem like a net loss.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:13 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Windykites,

I don't think you have read either Story of O and 50Shades if you think they are remotely similar thematically. Please stop using 50shades, a book series closer to the billionaire romance wish fulfillment fantasies of the Romance genre (but with interludes of very mild kink), to cimpare to a story about a woman who joins a society of kinky people in preference beyond anything remotely "romantic". One is a badly written by the numbers story of a person who wants wealth and power over a powerful man, the other is a person going through a list of kink things in pursuit of their own objectification.

There is no evidence that "violent pornography" correlates to an escalation of sexual violence. More to the point as person who consumes and successfully creates violent pornography for commercial consumption... Ew. Please stop projecting your slippery slope desire to control me onto my sexuality.

A) I was born this way and, like many, many kinky people we discovered it in mediums considered suitable for minors (eg Disney's Sleeping Beauty). Unless you plan to ban educational materials and fairy tales, we seek the porn because it explains the desire, not that we get numbed out to the sex we should be having because violence is much better.

I sincerely don't know how you think my sexuality is supposed to work, but it is profoundly none of your business and super degrading you need us to justify our right to you not to advocate restricting what we are allowed to have.

B) Your attitudes have a very real effect of punishing and stigmatizing sex work. This is why Bank of America seizes the earnings of Camgirls. There are real people being hurt by misguided protectionism.

C) Violent misogyny predates widespread access to even printed books, much less porn. People actually beat, degrade and sexually assault women (and men) because of power dynamics that exist outside of art.

I am legally way less property-you-can-have-sex-with than I have ever been, at least in modern history. I have a freedom to have the sex I want, uncontrollable by parties not having the sex, hitherto unknown, and I place your approach as practically opposed to my safety and independence.
posted by Phalene at 8:57 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


It's weird how judgmental and even insulting the usually sex positive MetaFilter gets about this topic when it comes up.

The problem with sexbots is that they're just fancy masturbation aids that you still have to wipe the spooge off from --not that there's anything wrong with that -- but are sold as basically sex slaves which are okay to own, an incel's ideal woman.

What I'm uncomfortable with is this idea of the sexbot as a replacement for a real woman, as if when sexbots get ever this good/sentient there wouldn't be consent issues.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:53 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


New report finds no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy (Ben Guarino, WaPo)
Chantal Cox-George, a doctor at St. George’s University Hospitals in Britain, and Susan Bewley, an obstetrician at King’s College London, scoured the medical literature for reports concerning the health aspects of sex robots. They finished their search as they began: empty-handed.

No primary research data on sex robots exists, the doctors concluded. “We advise that sexbots shouldn’t be used in medical practice,” Cox-George said, “at least not unless that forms part of robust and ethical research.”

Noel Sharkey, a professor emeritus of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in England, applauded the BMJ article. In May 2017, Sharkey, as a co-founder of an organization called the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, produced a report outlining the sexual future of humans and robots.

The Foundation for Responsible Robotics talked to “an awful lot of people,” Sharkey said, and none could provide evidence for clinical uses. The BMJ report goes “a lot further than we did and actually delved into hundreds and hundreds of journals,” he said, yet arrived at the same conclusion.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:33 AM on June 5


Chantal Cox-George, a doctor at St. George’s University Hospitals in Britain, and Susan Bewley, an obstetrician at King’s College London, scoured the medical literature for reports concerning the health aspects of sex robots. They finished their search as they began: empty-handed.

Beyond the annual "what do people stick up their bum" article, how much research are doctors really doing on assistive devices for sexuality?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:06 PM on June 5


The “new report” appears to just be an editorial, accessible in full online with DOI 10.1136/bmjsrh-2017-200012—“I, Sex Robot: the health implications of the sex robot industry”
posted by XMLicious at 7:36 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]




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