Sweetie 2.0 has been developed for Terre des Hommes by Dutch companies Tracks Inspector, Motek and e Creation with the assistance of Leiden and Tilburg Universities and financial support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. " scream the tech headlines, as if they're heralding the arrival of the latest artificial intelligence threat to humankind since autonomous killer robots.Aided by technology, society is rethinking sex/gender dualism. Subject to ethical considerations, sex robots could be a valid way of progressing with this approach. Instead of calling for an outright ban, why not use the topic as a base from which to explore new ideas of inclusivity, legality and social change?It is time for new approaches to artificial sexuality, which includes a move away from the machine-as-sex-machine hegemony and all its associated biases. At least, for now – if we've lost control of that then we have a whole other set of problems.For Levy, sex work is a model that can be mirrored in human-robot relations.Carving a new narrative Richardson does not relish this prospect and to an extent I agree with her misgivings; it is a narrative that should be challenged.
Yes, society has enough problems with gender stereotypes, entrenched sexism and sexual objectification.Fear of a branch of AI that is in its infancy is a reason to shape it, not ban it.A campaign to stop killer robots is one thing, but a campaign against sex robots? It's one thing to have a conversation and conclude something about the development of technology; it's another to demand silence before anyone has had the chance to speak.The scope for sex robots goes far beyond Richardson's definition of them as "machines in the form of women or children for use as sex objects, substitutes for human partners or prostitutes".But actual opposition to developing sexual robots that aims for an outright ban?That seems shortsighted, even – pardon the pun – undesirable.Once these chats become sexual in nature, the bots will seek to identify the perpatrators and send them warning messages as a deterrent.To determine the impact of these "early interventions", Terre des Hommes will cooperate with a team of forensic psychologists and statisticians from Tilburg University who will carry out research into their effectiveness in the coming months.Lack of openness about sex and sexual identities has been a source of great mental and social anguish for many people, even entire societies, for centuries.The politics behind this lack of candour is very damaging.