People that were told by a robot to touch intimate parts of the robot’s bodies like the robot’s eyes and the region of the robot’s body where the privates would be if the robot had privates displayed the same reactions they would with humans. This first exploration of the mores associated with physical interaction with robots was conducted by Jamy Li, Wendy Ju, and Byron Reeves from Stanford University. The results of the study were presented at the April 5, 2016, session of the annual meeting of the international Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan.
The participants in the study were connected to a sensor that measured the states of arousal experienced by the participants when the Aldebaran Robotics’ NAO human-shaped robot told the participants to touch it. The participants in the study treated the robot with the same level of respect that they would another person. The researchers expect the study to guide future robot development that supports common conventions of touching another being. A video of the experiments can be seen here.
No anatomically complete robots or androids are presently on the market. Hotels, hospitals, and restaurants in Japan and other countries have employed robots that are very human looking in the last few years. The future probably holds the development of anatomically correct and sexually functioning robots or androids of both sexes.
Science fiction has frequently explored the problems and benefits of human and robot sexual relations. One advantage of using robots as sex toys would be the elimination of human prostitution. The rate of transmission of venereal disease and HIV may decrease as robots become the sex object of choice. An advantage of having a robot mate could be returning an unsatisfactory mate to the manufacturer or selling the robot to someone else.
Governments are bound to set limits on dalliance between humans and robots. These laws will only serve to make the practice more attractive and lucrative because it is illegal. One could imagine an international smuggling of robots for amorous purposes replacing other criminal activities.
The continual rapid development of artificial intelligence may very soon produce a near human robot. The question may become more complicated in that if a robot can create something on its own and reproduce itself. Robot souls and robot rights may be the political hot buttons of the near future.
The concepts are not unrealistic. One may expect Ellen, Dr. .Phil, Oprah or others of that ilk to become champions of robot sexual exploitation. Religions would naturally decry robot sex as “inhuman”. The most promising aspect of the study in reference to robots as sexual partners is the fact that most people felt uncomfortable when a robot asked them to touch the robot in what is considered to be a private place.