Sex machines should have rights too

End of 2017, at a technical fair in Austria, a sexual robot was " molested " on several occasions and left in a "dirty" state. The robot, named Samantha, received a barrage of male attention, which earned him two broken fingers. This incident confirms the concern that the possibility of fully functioning sex robots raises both enticing opportunities for human desire (by reflecting the man-worker relationship), as well as serious ethical issues .

So, what should you do? The campaign to "outlaw" sex robots, as argued computer scientist Kate Devlin will likely only lead to a lack of discussion. Instead, he assumes that many ways of including sexually and socially could be explored as a result of human-robot relationships.

Certainly, there are certain elements of relationship between humans and sex workers that we do not wish to repeat. But for me, it's the ethical aspects of how we think about human-robot desire that are particularly important.

Why? Because we are not even agreed yet on what is sex . Sex can mean many different things to different bodies – and the types of joys and sufferings that are associated with them are radically different for each individual body. We are only beginning to understand and know these stories. But with the first brothel of the Sexual Robot of Europe opened in Barcelona and the construction of " Harmony ", a sexual robot speaking in California, it is clear that humans are considering already to impose our sexuality barely understood. ethics on machines.

Some claim that the development of sex robots has positive implications, such as "therapeutic" uses . These arguments are mainly focused on male use in relation to problems such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, although there are also mentions of "healing potential" for trauma sexual.

But there are also warnings that the rise of sex robots is a symptom of the "pornification " of sexual culture and the "growing dehumanization of women". Meanwhile, Samantha has recovered and we are assured by the doll's developer, Sergi Santos, that "she can endure many things and get out of it", and that his career seems "promising".

The popular sex doll Samantha finally breaks down after many customers massively massaged …

– Cingey (@FrankTamoufe) September 27, 2017

The desires of Samantha

Santos (with a dose of inhuman humor) asks us to applaud Samantha for overcoming her ordeal – without fully recognizing the violence she's endured. But I think most of us will experience some discomfort hearing the story of Samantha.

And it is important that just because she is a machine, we do not let ourselves be "fired" by making her another victim and heroine who has survived a meeting, only for her to repeat herself. Yes, she is a machine, but does that mean that it is justified to act destructively towards her? Admittedly, the fact that it is in a human form makes it a surface on which is projected the human and symbolic sexuality of a futuristic human sexuality. If this is the case, the case of Samatha is particularly sad.

This is Devlin who asked the crucial question: whether sex robots will have rights. "Should we incorporate the idea of ​​consent?" Does request. In legal terms, this would mean having to recognize the robot as human – that is the limitation of a law made by and for humans.

I have studied how institutions, theories, legal regimes (and in some cases lovers) tend to make assumptions about my (human) sexuality . These assumptions can often lead me to tell me what I need, what I should feel and what I should have. The assumption that we know what the other body wants is often the root of suffering. The inevitable discomfort of reading Samantha once again demonstrates the real – still unknown to human beings – of the violence of these assumptions.

The Ethics of Samantha

Suffering is a way of knowing that you, as a body, have come out of the "wrong" side of an ethical dilemma. This idea of ​​an "embodied" ethic understood through suffering was developed on the basis of the work of the famous philosopher Spinoza and is particularly useful to legal thinkers. It is useful because it allows us to judge the correctness by virtue of the real and personal experience of the body itself, rather than judging by virtue of what we "think" is right in relation to what we assume to be true of their identity.

This helps us in the case of Samantha since she tells us that, in accordance with human desire, it is clear that she would not have wanted what she had. The contact that Samantha received was distinctly human in the sense that this case reflects some of the most violent sexual offenses cases.

While human concepts such as "law" and "ethics" are imperfect, we know that we do not want to hurt others. We make these robot lovers into our image and we should not choose to be nice to our sexual partners, even when we choose to have relationships outside the "norm", or with beings who have a supposedly limited consciousness, or even no (humanly detectable) consciousness.

The Rights of Samantha

The machines are indeed what we manufacture . This means that we have the opportunity to avoid the assumptions and prejudices caused by the way we project human feelings and desires. But does that imply ethically that robots should be able to consent or refuse sex, as human beings would?

Innovative Philosophers and Scientists Frank and Nyholm found many legal reasons to answer both yes and no (lack of human consciousness and legal personality of a robot, principle of " wrong, "for example). Once again, we are trying to apply a very human law. But feelings of suffering outside relationships, or identities accepted as the "norm," are often illegitimized by law [19459].

Thus, a "legal" framework that originates in heteronormative desire does not necessarily build the foundation of consent and sexual rights of robots. Rather, as claimed by the renowned post-human thinker Rosi Braidotti we need an ethic, as opposed to a law, that helps us find a practical and sensible way of deciding , taking into account emerging reports. The kindness and empathy we feel towards Samantha can be a good starting point.

Victoria Brooks Lecturer, University of Westminster

This article was originally published on The Conversation . Read the original article .

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