Post-Human Lovers: How Sex-Bots Degrade and Dehumanise | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Post-Human Lovers: How Sex-Bots Degrade and Dehumanise

Comment Editor Kat Smith argues that far from being harmless fun, sex-bots are perpetuating damaging perceptions of women

Walking into Build-a-Bear as a child was one of the most exciting times of my life. You chose your bear, gave it a voice, dressed it and even had your own birth certificate for your new-found friend. It was then yours to keep and cuddle for £15 (plus the added expense of buying your bear Ugg boots and a Hannah Montana t-shirt).

Now, the technology geniuses of 2017 bring us the adult version: Build-a-Girlfriend. You choose the breasts, genitals and even the colour of the nipples. With 42 colours to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice! You can even detach the ‘parts’ and wash them in the dishwasher. What more could you want? A measly bear now pales in comparison.

Harmony, the artificial intelligence sex robot, promises to be ‘the girl you’ve always dreamed of.’ She remembers your birthday, knows what your favourite film is and, put simply, exists solely for your own pleasure. I absolutely love misogyny; apparently the perfect girl is one that has no backbone, no autonomy and customisable labia. I guess I’d better start working on my attractiveness by ceasing my opinionated contributions to the Comment section of Redbrick. Damn.

Apparently the perfect girl is one that has no backbone, no autonomy and customisable labia

Maybe I’m being too harsh, as customers can dictate their partner’s character so there is some personality in there somewhere. The client can choose from 18 different personality traits such as moody and shy. Still, the character is being chosen based on the preferences of the customer and isn’t representative of a real relationship.

The robots are designed to help the lonely in their quest for companionship, fulfilling not only physical needs but also emotional ones. How can a robot do such a thing? And even if it could, there are detrimental effects attached to portraying women in this way.

Her tiny waist, wide-set hips, and large breasts are features many women desire, and struggle relentlessly to obtain. Perpetuating an ideal body standard doesn’t do wonders for teaching men that women don’t all come with ridiculous proportions and also fails to reassure women that there isn’t a standard body shape we should all be striving for.

The objectification of women has already gone far enough in popular culture, but this is literally degrading the female body to a sex toy. Why would you need a real woman when you can have your customised robot? She won’t question your superiority and has your favourite shade of nipple.

Creator Matt McMullen claims that it isn’t designed to distort reality to the point where people start interacting with humans the way they do with the robot,’ but I can’t see this is a realistic statement. ‘She’ is likened to a ‘girlfriend’ and given human voices and mannerisms. I’ve seen TV reports that show men considering a mannequin or sex doll to be their girlfriend, kissing them on their plastic lips and vowing not to be unfaithful. They dream of the day when they can find a lifeless doll that can actually speak back to them.

The ignorance of creators of the dolls to people like this fail to see that these dolls aren’t going to just be considered a robot to all – in fact, it’s predicted that by 2050 people will be tying the knot with their AI partners. If creators are striving to ensure AI sex robots are seen strictly as objects, why did they include memory of favourite films/music and birthdays? Why does it emulate a human in so many ways if they wanted it to be seen as nothing like one?

It’s predicted that by 2050 people will be tying the knot with their AI partners

Companionship isn’t a robot: it consists of friends, family and pets. It doesn’t need to come in the form of a partner and especially one with no life of its own.

After all, a man’s best friend is a dog and not Harmony the glossy-haired sex robot.

Opinionated second-year Philosophy student and houmous enthusiast. (@katlouiise)


16th May 2017 at 5:04 pm

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