Sex robots will replace women
Researcher: "Sexbots are a sign of hatred against women"
At a time when sex robots are presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest electronics trade fair in the world, and when voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and the like are becoming more and more demanding, a reality appears in which sex robots replace interpersonal contact, not far away. For the British ethics and robotics researcher Kathleen Richardson from De Montfort University, such a future is more like a dystopia that must be prevented.
DEFAULT: They are known for opposing the development of sex robots. Why actually?
Richardson: Because products, even if they come in the form of an AI, are not interchangeable with women. There is a movement that normalizes human alienation and loneliness. Then there is the sexual exploitation of women, which leads to violence against them. These issues show that sexbots are a sign of ongoing hatred against women and girls.
DEFAULT: How are sex bots different from sex toys? In your opinion, would they be less of a problem if they were sold as a "regular" masturbation object?
Richardson: It's a common comparison, but it's not the same. Women who buy vibrators are not made to see them as friends or spouses. Or create online profiles telling stories about how they dressed their vibrator.
DEFAULT: Why is that so?
Richardson: Because of patriarchy, women are seen as objects. Your sexual pleasure is considered incidental or irrelevant. In a culture where there is no reciprocity, markets emerge that are focused on egocentric sex practices. A vibrator, on the other hand, is an object that you rub against your body.
DEFAULT: They warn that sex will decline due to sexbots, citing Japan as a case study. In your opinion, what is the problem there?
Richardson: Japan is going through a crisis of human attachment. The development is worrying. There is a large sex industry there that thrives on the inability of men to have relationships with women. Only when a woman is stylized as an object can a significant number of men identify with her.
DEFAULT: Intercourse is already declining due to internet pornography. What is different?
Richardson: Men who own sexbots watch porn as well. Many visit prostitutes. These dolls don't just exist outside of the regular market. Customers buy dolls and position them as they saw it in porn. This creates a culture in which people are equated with property in the form of robots with artificial intelligence (AI). My work is based on an ethic against slavery and against seeing people as property.
DEFAULT: The market is currently very male-dominated. Will women's interest increase in the future?
Richardson: I do not believe that. You would need to be motivated to spend thousands of dollars and forego the ability to empathize.
DEFAULT: In your opinion, is a lack of empathy a male problem? And: with the development of artificial intelligence, won't robots at some point be sophisticated enough to trigger empathy?
Richardson: Robots and AI are not and never will be like humans. It will be possible to develop sophisticated dolls. But even sophisticated dolls are not interchangeable with humans. Empathy is a modern way to be mindful of reciprocity. If one normalizes egocentrism, as is done in a male culture, selfish men emerge. It's about political power in a society, so it's a cultural, political, and legal problem, but not a biological one. It would be better for all of us if we lived in a culture that does not make a person's body a sexual commodity.
DEFAULT: Your "campaign against sex robots" speaks out clearly against the development of sex robots in the form of children. However, supporters of such an idea argue that it can ensure that child pornography will decline and pedophiles will no longer harm real people. How do you see it
Richardson: This argument was developed by men and "ethical" robot groups who have no affiliation whatsoever with organizations against child sexual abuse. All such institutions speak out against it. The question arises why academics oppose it. In addition, this argument is diametrically opposed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
DEFAULT: So, from your point of view, a bad idea.
Richardson: The best way to stop adult men from abusing children is to end male privileges and commercial sex trafficking, and to change the norms surrounding sex and relationships. In addition, the rights of children, not adults, should be promoted.
DEFAULT: Another argument in favor of sex robots is that they could curb prostitution - in the sense that no real, but only artificial women are made objects.
Richardson: That too is nonsense. There is now a market for "sex dolls" popularized in brothels. Prostitution and sexual abuse are based on relationships between people. It's about power and borders - unlike relationships between people and objects in their environment. And the relationship between people is something that must be adjusted by politics and law if society is to change. Have you never wondered why these academics never say that we can end racism by giving racists robots?
DEFAULT: What do you think is the ideal solution? Would you completely ban the robots or limit their use?
Richardson: I think we should hold this culture accountable. First, commercial sex trafficking should be abolished. Complete. Instead, a mutual relationship needs to be established that is not based on illegal or commercial power. Second, human qualities should be enhanced by rejecting the narrative that humans and machines are the same. My work focuses on both.
DEFAULT: In the past you have spoken of being cursed online for your views as "Feminazi". How do you explain that?
Richardson: Critical discussion is very important in a society. People use abbreviated terms for many things. Those people who use this term against feminists do not understand Nazi politics. Verbal abuse is a way for people who do not have political ideas to suppress or belittle the point of view of others. Nevertheless: I am for any kind of communication, even unpleasant ones, because I make a radical distinction between language and actions. Unless language is used to cause harm through violence. (Muzayen Al-Youssef, January 23, 2019)
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