Sex robots offer little evidence of any health benefits, doctors say


David Reid    06 June 2018

  1. Doctors say marketing claims over lifelike robots for sex are misleading.
  2. While use for dysfunction or disability is plausible, the doctors say "sexbots" could worsen a situation.
  3. One company reportedly plans to sell male versions for women later this year.

Doctors are questioning claims that a rise in the use of "sexbots" could have medical benefits such as treating impotence, reducing the spread of disease, or preventing violent sexual behavior.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Monday, Susan Bewley, professor of womens health at Kings College London and Chantal Cox-George from St Georges University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, analyzed the health implications of the $30 billion industry.

The paper said companies, such as True Companion and realbotix.com, currently sell adult sexbots priced between $5,000 and $15,000. They are, so far, only aimed at the male market but the first one designed for woman is set to go on sale next year.

Proponents of the robots claim the dolls offer a safe and therapeutic method for men who encounter difficulty having a sexual relationship with a human partner. Some have suggested sexual crime could even be reduced by the use of a robot.

The study, while citing a lack of empirical evidence, said it had found little to suggest that robots will help reduce inappropriate and violent sexual behavior. It concluded that the use of sex robots could actually desensitize some people to a recognition of sexual exploitation of real humans.

"While many sexbots users may distinguish between fact and fantasy, some buyers may not, leading to concern about potentially exacerbating the risk of sexual assault and rape of actual children and adults," the report said.

The papers authors also interviewed experts on the potential for sex robots to treat pedophiles and sex offenders, noting that one manufacturer has already produced lifelike child sex dolls. The paper concluded that with a lack of any real evidence it would "strongly caution" against medical professionals prescribing the robots as a form of treatment.

In April, Amazon removed child sex dolls from sale following fears they could lead to abuse of real children.

The BMI study added that any suggestion that sexbots might be an option for disabled people could easily be seen as patronising to a section of society perfectly capable of full human sexual activity.

It also said the concept of a robot prostitute using material that prevented the spread of disease was "wildly optimistic" and could open the door to legal action where there was "unclear responsibility for condoms and cleaning products."

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