The report also peers into some of the murkier sub-groups of robot sex including robots being used as "prostitutes" in brothels and sex dolls being used as a sexual therapy practice for rapists and pedophiles. Among the handful of companies that make sex robots – Harumi, Sex Bot, True Companion, Lumidolls and True Companion – many have started designing increasingly life-like sex robots. The founder of Trottla, a company that produces child sex dolls, has touted that robots designed to look like children will help prevent people from abusing real-life children. Sharkey said sex doll customers and sex doll manufacturers aren't seeing eye to eye on the reality and effects of owning a sex doll.
The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics' (FRR) report, published on Wednesday, believe they could herald a "revolution" in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships. Sharkey said: "Some people say: 'Well, it's better they rape robots than rape real people.' However, Sharkey is sceptical of the argument that robots can help people get over rape or child sex fantasies, suggesting it is more likely to "encourage paedophilia and make it acceptable to assault children". They could affect human interactions in other ways, suggests van Wynsberghe.
There should be a ban on the import of sex robots designed to look like children, the author of a new report into the phenomenon has said. Prof Noel Sharkey said that society as a whole needed to consider the impact of all types of sex robots. His Foundation for Responsible Robotics has conducted a consultation on the issue. Only a handful of companies were currently making sex robots, said Prof Sharkey. But, he added, the upcoming robot revolution could change that.
Realistic sex robots will bring about a social and technological revolution in Britain, experts predict. While it might seem like science fiction, the machines are becoming increasingly sophisticated – and over the next ten years realistic sex androids will become more common, scientists say. But politicians and the public need to understand and deal with the ethical issues that sex robots will pose to society and relationships. This was the warning from Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, and Dr Aimee van Wynsberghe, assistant professor in ethics and technology at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, as they launched a report on the issue yesterday. Supporters of the use of sex robots say they could be useful for lonely people or those unable to form relationships.