BDSM Sex-Bot Ethical?

posted by Pat Mars - 

it's the hot new question in AI

The sex robot community—the people who make the sex robots, and the people who want to have sex with the sex robots—suffered a blow this past week, when the Houston City Council voted to preemptively ban what would’ve been the first sex robot “brothel” in the U.S. But even those council members must know that their gesture was futile. Soon the stigma will fade, and Wal-Mart will sell these things in sixty different flavors. Which of course means that, sometime in the future, you’ll almost certainly be able to buy a BDSM robot.

As repeatedly pondered over Twitter, before you can get yourself sexually trussed, whipped or choked by a large piece of machinery, we as a culture will need to reckon with—among many, many other things—Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. These laws state explicitly, right at the top, that “a robot may not injure a human being.” An originalist interpretation would lead one to conclude that Asimov would not be down with BDSM sex robots—but it’s hard to imagine he had them in mind when he drafted his famous rules.

Asimov’s been dead for a quarter-century, so for this week’s Giz Asks we surveyed lawyers, ethicists, computer scientists and philosophers on whether or not a BDSM robot would violate his first rule. Robots are fairly dumb at the moment to engage in fetishistic nuances of the human psyche, but the question becomes more complicated as technology advances, as technology always does.

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