Sexbots could ‘over-exert’ their human lovers, academic warns

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Joe Fay – The Register

Ethics expert has built ladybird-sparing vacuum cleaner


The possibility of sex robots over-exerting their human lovers to the point of collapse is just one of the ethical conundrums academics and society need to get their head round, a Swiss academic told a conference on sex robots today.

Oliver Bendel, of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland, told the Love and Sex and Robots Conference at Goldsmith’s University, that the full range of machine ethics questions can – and should – be applied to sex robots.

Machine ethics sees machines – whether self-driving cars, chatbots, military drones, and presumably, your basic pleasure model – as potential moral agents in their own right, he said.

This raised the question of whether sex robots should have moral skills, in addition to their other more tangible skills, and “if so, which ones?” If they did, he continued, should these be simple “duty ethics” or should they also be mindful of the consequences of their decisions. Could robots enter into contracts?

Certain questions were particularly pertinent, he continued.

These included whether sex robots should be able to “entice” users. This is not just a question or applying some hair gel and a happy-go-lucky expression. Just imagine all the wiles of Google, or mobile games makers, applied to enticing you to keep pressing that button…or whatever.

Another key issue, he said, was whether robots should have the capability of “refusal” in “extreme” circumstance. Similarly, he continued, should robots be compelled to reveal they are, indeed, robots.

Other, arguably less elevated questions, included whether the sex robot should be “available” to a human at all times – something unlikely with most human lovers. At the same time, he asked, how should issues of shame on the part of the human partner be considered – and indeed where would the use of sex robots be considered unacceptable.

The proliferation of sex-robots – presumably able to incorporate data and feedback to constantly up their game – could have a physical effect on their human lovers, and beyond, he warned.

Human sexuality has certain “physical limits” he said, particularly in the male of the species. Robots, on the other hand, were potentially tireless. This could have a knock-on effect for a robot’s human partner, and indeed the partner’s partner. “If the machine over-exerts the human, it reduces the possibility of human sex,” Bendel warned.

Beyond that, Bendel said, what about the effect on those who are supplanted by dedicated machines, or those who are unable to afford such gadgets.

Ethicists and developers could go some way to answering these questions, he said, though ultimately the whole of society had to make a call. AI and robotics are both advancing at a rapid clip, the conference was told, and a number of speakers suggested it should not be left to the traditional porn industry to make these decisions for us.

Even the most dedicated researcher will need a break from grappling with them from time to time. Indeed, Bendel revealed that his most recent project was a ladybird-friendly vacuum cleaner. The device will clean your floors, but if it detects ladybirds and other little critters, it will stop and shoo them away to safety. However, he added, the team had included a kill button for arachnophobes. ®

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Ultra-realistic ‘digital sex headsets’ will allow you to enjoy a virtual reality romp with your favourite celebrity crush

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BY JOSHUA TAYLOR | 17:51, 20 DEC 2016 | UPDATED 11:09, 22 DEC 2016 | Mirror


You could soon have ultra-realistic sex with your favourite celebrity crush using virtual reality headsets, a technology expert said.

New equipment coming on to the market in the gaming industry could be utilised for the most realistic porn ever.

Prof Lynne Hall, from the University of Sunderland’s computing, engineering and technology department, said virtual reality headsets are becoming cheaper and more sophisticated.

She said: “If you want to be Kate Winslet standing in front of Leonardo DiCaprio, that can happen.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Users could have sex with Leonardo DiCaprio in virtual reality, the expert says (Photo: Getty)



“The porn sector will do this if there’s a lot of money in it and there will be a lot of money in it.”

Prof Hall added: “Leisure sex is increasingly socially acceptable and pornography is very widely accessed.

“We live very small lives dominated by smartphones. This fits very well into that lifestyle.”

Woman trying virtual reality headset
The porn sector would be interested if money was involved – and there would be, Prof Hall said

Prof Hall was speaking at the Love and Sex with Robots second international congress at Goldsmiths, University of London, as she presented a research paper called ‘sex with robots for love-free encounters’.

The paper explores the “technological advances for pornography and their relevance for such fantasy sex robots… through the integration of virtual reality, tele-dildonics, soft and wearable robots”.

It says robotics could “support love-free sexual pleasure… across a range of domains”.


Study reveals who is most likely to have sex with a ROBOT – and it’s exactly who you’d expect

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BY MIRROR .CO.UK | 15:45, 20 DEC 2016 | UPDATED15:44, 20 DEC 2016


The sex robot industry is thriving, with some academics predicting that humans will be having more sex with robots that with each other by 2050.

But while many people find the idea of sex with a mechanical object abhorrent, academics are keen to find out who is most willing to embrace (literally) this new technology.

Speaking at the Love and Sex with Robots conference at Goldsmiths, University of London, Jessica M. Szczuka from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany took on the preconceptions of lonely men shacking up with cyber-lovers.

“I wanted to see what kind of characteristics influence the use of sex robots,” she told an audience at the conference.

“We react towards computers and machines as we do with human beings. This involves showing empathy and keeping an interpersonal distance with robots.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Szczuka’s research found that “anthropomorphic tendency” (ascribe human attributes to) was a positive predictor of intention to buy a sex robot and “negative attitude toward robots” was a negative predictor of intention to buy a sex robot.

Remarkable ‘Kissenger’ gadget lets you smooch a long-distance lover over the internet

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BY MIRROR .CO.UK | 08:31, 20 DEC 2016 | UPDATED 08:31, 20 DEC 2016


Lovers separated by distance can see and talk to each other using the internet – but what about sharing a smooch?

The Kissenger is a gadget that’s been knocking around university research labs for the last few years and aims to let couple kiss each other through the internet.

It’s a brightly-coloured smartphone holster with an inviting plastic pad attached to the bottom. You lock lips with the pad and it transmits the sensation through to an identical holster and an identical pad that’s nestling your partner’s phone wherever that may be.

“Kissing is the most direct and universal expression of intimacy and affection,” explained Emma Yann Zhang, who worked on the prototype.

“It’s a way for us to bond and maintain intimacy in our relationships,” she told an audience at the Love and Sex with Robots congress as Goldsmiths, University of London.

“Also, it’s stress reducing; when we engage in this kind of intimate physical touch, we have a lower level of blood pressure.”

The Kissenger works with pressure sensors and actuators that record and transmit the your kiss to the receiving device, which recreates it for the person on the other end through an app that also features videocalling.

The creators admit that there’s still a way to go when it comes to accurately creating a long-distance makeout session. For starters, the pad isn’t mouth-shaped (although the actuators are lined like lips) and there’s no simulation for a tongue.

But the creators insist that it’s already helping to get people accustomed to machine-based touching. And, moreover, that it’s not being used in an overtly sexual way.

“Parents can also use Kissenger to give their children a kiss on the cheek when they are away at work,” say its creators.

Zhang explained that the next stage of the Kissenger is to build scent into the prototype. So you can get the authentic smell of the person you want to kiss.


Sex robots ‘could reveal your deepest perversions to complete strangers’

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BY MIRROR .CO.UK | 13:45, 19 DEC 2016 | UPDATED 13:45, 19 DEC 2016


You may think that what goes on between you and your sex robot in the privacy of your own home is nobody’s business but your own.

But experts have warned that – like fitness trackers and smart TVs – many of these futuristic sex toys will record and store personal data about how people use and store them.

Unless questions are asked about how and why this data is being used, things could go badly wrong, according to Dr Kate Devlin, a senior lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“Right now my big concern is about data,” explained Dr Kate Devlin, during a keynote session at the Second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots in London this week.

The "True Companion" sex robot, Roxxxy
The “True Companion” sex robot, Roxxxy (Photo: Getty)

“We tick the box of the terms and conditions without checking them.”

Dr. Devlin cited the case of Standard Innovation, a US-based tech company that makes internet-connected sex toys under the We-Vibe branding, which is currently being sued.

The company is being accused of recording incredibly personal data – including things like vaginal temperature and preferred intensity setting – without the user’s consent.

The woman’s lawyer, Eve-Lynn Rapp, said: “This is one of the more incredible invasions of privacy we’ve ever dealt with.”

WeVibe sex toy hacked
Teh We-Vibe sex toy (Photo: WeVibe)

“We do collect certain limited data to help us improve our products and for diagnostic purposes,” Standard Innovation said in a statement.

“As a matter of practice, we use this data in an aggregate, non-identifiable form.”

Dr Devlin said that, in some cases, collecting personal data can be useful.

“For example, if it is fed back into the product to make it better,” she says, highlighting a thermometer gadget called Daysy that offers menstrual cycle tracking.

Various components of the sex dolls
Various components of the sex dolls (Photo: Getty)

User feedback has also been proven to improve the product’s accuracy.

“But do we want people to know when we have sex and how we have sex?” she asked.

The argument is that if data collection is not monitored it could very easily turn into a slippery slope of personal data collection which is then open to hackers.

Despite raising concerns about both the data collection and the objectification of women that are by-products of sex robots, Dr Devlin argues that they are a positive development.

Jude Law, as male sex robot Gigolo Joe in AI, was programmed to have sex with women (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

“There are a lot of heath benefits. You can be attached to something that’s not human and we’re already providing a lot of health and therapeutic technology to help older people in care homes. Why can we not provide sex tech as well?”

“The other thing that concerns me is the sexism. Women are massively underrepresented in the technology world and we see that reflected in the products.”

Back in 2007, artificial intelligence researcher David Levy from the University of Maastricht told LiveScience that people could be marrying robots – and consummating their vows – by 2050.

Intelligent Sex Dolls

Although it might not appeal at first, he said, “once you have a story like ‘I had sex with a robot, and it was great!’ appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I’d expect many people to jump on the bandwagon.”

In his PhD thesis, “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners”, Levy stated that the more human-like robots become in terms of personality, function and appearance, the more likely they are to form romantic partners for real people.

“It may sound a little weird, but it isn’t,” he said.

The Love and Sex with Robots congress is running at Goldsmiths, University of London from December 19-20.

Kissenger: This bizarre new gadget helps you kiss your partner, wherever they are

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By Sarah Young –



Long-distance relationships can be difficult and, while apps like FaceTime, Snapchat and Skype mean lovers can see and talk to each other – what about real physical intimacy? Enter: the Kissenger.

A gadget that enables couples to kiss each other through the internet, the Kissenger –  derived from the words kiss and messenger – has been the subject of university lab tests for the last couple of years.

So how does it work?

Essentially, it’s a brightly-coloured holster that attaches to your smartphone with an inviting plastic pad attached at the bottom.

When you lock lips with it, the pad senses pressure points and transmits the sensation through to an identical holster on your partner’s phone, wherever they may be.

“Kissing is the most direct and universal expression of intimacy and affection,” Emma Yann Zhang, who worked on the prototype, told an audience at the Love and Sex with Robots congress at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“It’s a way for us to bond and maintain intimacy in our relationships.”

The creators of the device say it has also helped users get on-board with machine-based touching and while it is aimed at couples, it can be used outside of romantic relationships. “Parents can also use Kissenger to give their children a kiss on the cheek when they are away at work,” its creators said.

While they admit that a lot more work is needed to create a more lifelike make out experience the next stages of development are already underway.

Subsequently, the team are now looking to build scent into the Kissenger, so the user can get the authentic smell of the person that they want to kiss.

50% of men ‘could purchase’ sex robots in five years

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BY SAMINU MACHUNGA – The Cable Lifestyle


While many people are of the opinion that sex robots are for the lonesome, a new survey suggests otherwise.

The survey revealed that almost half of the male population, single or in a relationship, could buy a sex robot within the next five years.

At the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, Jessica Szczuka, co-authored a study which focused on what is likely to influence men as to whether or not to buy a sex robot.

A whopping 40.3 percent of the 263 straight males that were surveyed for Ms. Szczuka’s research said that they could imagine using a sex robot within the next five years.

According to Szczuka, the responses didn’t vary between those that were single and those in relationships.

She also suggested that the number may be higher in the real world as participants may have lied in the survey.

Speaking at the Love and Sex With Robots congress at Goldsmiths University in London, she said, “If people have the guts to say ‘yeah I could imagine that’, that’s a good sign”.

She also believes that as people grow familiar to the robots, the number “will double over time”.

While just under half of men could imagine buying a sex robot within five years, more than two-thirds of males could imagine using them.

Although, the most likely people to use one will be socially anxious people.

“Someone with a fear of rejection could control the robot because the robot would never reject them.”

Machines that are built like women for sexual purposes are becoming more and more popular. In countries like Japan, it has already caused a decrease in traditional sexual encounters between human beings.

In countries like Japan, it has already caused a decrease in traditional sexual encounters between human beings.

Virtual Reality Sex Cinemas Will Soon Make Sex Obsolete

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By on December 20, 2016 – The Blemish

Virtual Reality Sex Cinemas Will Soon Make Sex Obsolete


Awesome. I hope so. I hope more people dump their seed all over movie theater chairs or in robots. The planet is overpopulated enough.

Spanish researchers are currently developing virtual reality porn theaters where the audience will be able to take part in virtual orgies with the actors. Via touch screen, 3D glasses, surround sound, and vibrating seats, up to twelve people at a time will be able to engage in virtual gangbangs with stars. In the future, this may even involve sex robots to make the shows interactive.

The Daily Mail reports that Christina Portales of the University of Valencia told experts at a recent Love and Sex with Robots conference (yeah, that’s totally real) in London:

All senses have been integrated. People will see, people will smell, people will touch. They will feel the movement. It is not an individual activity. It is a group.

Inventors say this will be more addictive than porn. I’ll bet you ten dollars it makes sex obsolete.

Why female sex robots are more dangerous than you think

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By Tabi Jackson Gee – The Telegraph



I was going to start this article about robots with a not-so-clever reference to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But then I spoke to Blay Whitby, a philosopher concerned with the social impact of emerging technologies and the trivialisation of robots in the media – and I decided otherwise.

Because when it comes to robots, it’s simply no use discussing them through the lens of our favourite film or science fiction book. Cliched as it may be, the future is here; we can and should talk about reality. Within a matter of decades we’ve become entirely reliant on technology and robots are increasingly part of our everyday lives.

The latest chapter comes courtesy of Dr Trudy Barber, a pioneer in the impact of technology on sexual intercourse. Speaking at the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robotics, Dr Barber said people’s growing immersion in technology means it’s only a matter of time before it takes a mainstream role in sex.

Put simply: sex between couples will increasingly be saved for special occasions as  robots step in to satisfy our everyday needs. Dr Barber predicted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) devices in the bedroom will be socially normal within 25 years and that the machines would enable people to appreciate ‘the real thing’.

“I think what will happen is that they will make real-time relationships more valuable and exciting”, she added.

Devices such as Rocky or Roxxxy True Companion can currently be bought for around £7,000, but advances in the field are predicted to make sex robots increasingly lifelike and affordable.

Indeed, in April this year, a man figured out a way to make a robot in his own home that resembled a woman they don’t know.

Ricky Ma, 42, a Hong Kong-based man with no formal training in  robots, spent £35,000 to create a robotic woman who looks exactly like Scarlett Johannson. And there’s absolutely nothing she can do about it.

Unlike the vivacious and intelligent actress, his robotic counterpart was programmed to respond to questions like ‘you are very beautiful’ and ‘you’re so cute’ with little more than a coquettish smile and a wink.

It’s an utterly disappointing reflection of the way women are portrayed in society – Ma’s clever three dimensional creation is about as one dimensional as you can get.

The 'Mark 1' robot that looks like Scarlett Johansson
The ‘Mark 1’ robot that looks like Scarlett Johansson CREDIT: BOBBY YIP / REUTERS

Is all this cause for concern? Of course. Because right now more money is being spent on making these things than thinking about the ethical and societal ramifications. We already know porn provides a terrifying reflection on how society views women, which can manifest itself in real life.

But what happens when machines start contributing to the objectification of women too?

There’s also a real worry that people will abuse robots assigned human traits – whether it be in a sexual or physical way. Whitby thinks it’s a legitimate concern: “Will people mistreat robots? Oh yes, I’m sure. The reason I’m sure is because they already do. The way people first meet artificial intelligence is in a character in a video game that they’re shooting at.”

As we are yet to truly understand the effect that playing violent video games has on young minds, it will be years before we even begin to comprehend the knock-on effects that the mistreatment of human-like robots has on our behaviour towards each other.

Dr Kathleen Richardson, a Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, has done extensive research into this area – especially in regards to women. She says: “A machine, like the portrayal of women in pornography, prostitution and the media are entirely objects for male gratification. But women aren’t like what males see in pornography or in prostitution or in popular media.

“In these areas women are coerced or told how to be have act or behave with a threat of money or violence. In real life, women really have their own thoughts and feelings and preferences and desires. It seems logical that if this extreme control can’t be experienced by men with real women, the only next step is to create artificial objects.”

The people creating these robots are also partly to blame. A 2014 Nesta study titled ‘Our Work Here Is Done: Visions of a Robot Economy’ examined how gender is assigned to machines in the workplace. Researchers found that ‘male’ robots are thought to be better at repairing technical devices while ‘female’ robots are thought to be more suited to domestic and caring services.

In other words: people with gendered ideas make robots that conform to gender norms, which then perpetuates existing stereotypes.

As long as these norms go unchallenged, and robots are designed to fulfil perceived gender roles (has anyone yet talked about a male ‘sex robot’?) this vicious cycle will continue.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if the people programming and designing these robots didn’t have such stereotypical views? What if they used this amazing new platform to defy gender stereotypes, and rather than serving as a poor reflection on society, instead inspired us to look at ourselves in new ways?

It’s a nice thought. But as long as manufacturers stand to make a profit from robotics, and see these types of characterisations as a means to creating more humanised, relatable machines that sell better, not much is going to change.

Inventor Douglas Hines with his True Companion sex robot 
Inventor Douglas Hines with his True Companion sex robot, Roxxy CREDIT: ROBYN BECK

At the 2016 AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science – the world’s largest scientific society) annual meeting, Yale ethicist Wendell Wallach spoke of his concerns about AI. He said: “There’s a need for more concerted action to keep technology a good servant – and not let it become a dangerous monster.”

While codes exist to guide the creation of machines, the lack of law in place means that time and effort is being ploughed into manufacturing and programming, and no one is thinking twice about the effects this will have on living and breathing humans. Being cautious isn’t sexy in the business of technology – and it rarely comes with financial rewards.

Whitby urged us to act now, before it’s too late. “We need to have these discussions instead of waking up one day when robot companions are normal and question whether it was a good idea or not,” he says.

And as this kind of technology is rolled out around the world, he had a stark warning about where the democratisation of technology is taking us: “How would you feel about your ex boyfriend getting a robot that looked exactly like you, just in order to beat it up every night?”

It’s a shocking idea, isn’t it? On the one hand, it’s a machine – it isn’t you. But then, it is you, because it stands for you, and who you are.

Whitby added: “I mean, it might be alright, it might mean he can be calmer and more normal with you – think about Aristotle’s theory of catharsis. But we really haven’t discussed this as a society. We’re drifting towards it and the technology is very close to being available, but we just aren’t talking about it.”

It’s time we started having these conversations, before those oft quoted science fiction dystopias become a nightmarish reality.


Sex will be just for special occasions in the future as robots will satisfy everyday needs

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By Henry Bodkin – The Telegraph



Robots will becoming more and more life like

ex between married couples will increasingly be saved for special occasions as robots step in to satisfy everyday needs, experts have predicted.

Use of artificial intelligence (AI) devices in the bedroom will be socially normal within 25 years, an international  robotics conference has heard.

Comparing sex robots to the rise of the ebook, Dr Trudy Barber, a pioneer in the impact of technology on sexual intercourse, said the machines would enable people to greater appreciate “the real thing”.

Devices such as Rocky or Roxxxy True Companion can currently be bought for around £7,000, but advances in the field are predicted to make sex robots increasingly lifelike and affordable.

Speaking yesterday at the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robotics, Dr Barber said people’s growing immersion in technology means it was only a matter of time before it takes a mainstream role in sex.

“It could be that we are so busy with our lives, we are so embedded in our technological narrative that the idea of engaging in long-distance sex and robot sex is actually a natural process in our evolutionary cycle,” she said.

“I think what will happen is that they will make real-time relationships more valuable and exciting.”

However, AI experts have been warning that a generation of adolescents risk “losing their virginity” to humanoid devices and growing up with an unrealistic conception of sex.

In June leading scientist Dr Noel Sharkey, a former advisor to the UN, called on governments to prevent robotics being hijacked by the sex industry.

“I think what will happen is that they will make real-time relationships more valuable and exciting” – Dr Trudy Barber
Inventor Douglas Hines with his True Companion sex robot CREDIT: ROBYN BECK

But Dr Barber said the robots would effectively become an “extra human race”.

“The question is not “when will it become acceptable” but “when will we integrate”.”

“We are able to have so many colours on our sexual pallet now; I think we’d be daft not explore them.”

Questions that will face regulators involve how much data to allow robots to collect about their human partners and send back to their manufacturers.

Others include whether to legislate for purely passive robots, or to allow devices which entice humans to have sex, and whether robots would have to make clear that they are machines rather than humans.

Kate Devlin, computing expert at Goldsmiths, University of London, said it was probable future sex robots would be designed to learn their human partner’s sexual preferences to improve performance.

“Companion” devices such as the Pepper robot are being increasingly used to provide stimulation to elderly people, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan.

Created two years ago, the humanoid robot is designed with the ability to read certain emotions from analysing expressions and voice tones.

Scientists have said there is evidence the devices are being used by parents to keep their children company.

Professor Sharkey yesterday challenged the prediction that sex robots would become mainstream.

“Sex robots will be used within the next decade but it is doubtful if they will become a societal norm although surveys show that around 10% would be prepared to use them.

“They are more likely to be viewed as tools for masturbation although having a humanoid body may make a difference to the fantasy.

“Would you leave  your sex robot out if your mum came to visit?

“Prostitution has been around for thousands of years and yet has never been socially normalised.

“The problem is the same for both.

“With sex robots and prostitution, you are having a one way relationship with an object or a person that does not return your love except by pretence.”

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