Sexbots: Sex Slaves, Vulnerable Others or Perfect Partners?

Sexbots: Sex Slaves, Vulnerable Others or Perfect Partners?

Robin Mackenzie (Law School, Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.2018010101

Abstract

This article describes how sexbots: sentient, self-aware, feeling artificial moral agents created soon as customised potential sexual/intimate partners provoke crucial questions for technoethics. Coeckelbergh's model of human/robotic relations as co-evolving to their mutual benefit through mutual vulnerability is applied to sexbots. As sexbots have a sustainable claim to moral standing, benefits and vulnerabilities inherent in human/sexbots relations must be identified and addressed for both parties. Humans' and sexbots' vulnerabilities are explored, drawing on the philosophy and social science of dehumanisation and inclusion/exclusion. This article argues humans as creators owe a duty of care to sentient beings they create. Responsible innovation practices involving stakeholders debating ethicolegal conundrums pertaining to human duties to sexbots, and sexbots' putative interests, rights and responsibilities are essential. These validate the legal recognition of sexbots, the protection of their interests through regulatory oversight and ethical limitations on customisation which must be put in place.
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Background: Technoethics Robotics, Social Robots & A Potential Role For Sexbots In Moving Beyond The Master/Slave Dynamic

Technoethics fosters iterative relations between technology and ethics, benefiting both and hence enhancing social flourishing. Its interdisciplinary focus on actual and potential technological impacts in real world contexts leverages ethical analysis, risk analysis and technology evaluation, delineating underlying ethical complexities to raise novel, challenging questions (Luppicini, 2012 2013). Technoethical inquiry into social robots encourages thinking about how we can theorise the moral standing of non-humans (Gunkel, 2017), aids the critical integration of affective elements into robots (Stahl et al, 2014), enriched by the feminist-inspired, contextually-oriented ethics of care (Johansson, 2013; Van Wyberghe, 2016 2013). TR also feeds into responsible research and innovation practices: social robots in caring contexts, like carebots for the elderly, require negotiated ethical deliberation from all stakeholders on their appropriate form, function, role and relationship capabilities if they are to benefit all parties rather than diminish social flourishing (Stahl & Coeckelbergh 2016; Stahl et al, 2014; Van Wynsberghe, 2016 2013).

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