Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Should Congress Regulate the Sexbot Industry?

Are sexbots bad or are they just made that way?

In a sexually complicated society, it is actually a question for debate. One law professor wants Congress to regulate the developing sexbot industry because it could cause people to act out rape and other sex crimes.

"The obvious first step would be to have hearings and do studies to determine just how serious the threat is, whether there are any real benefits to having sexbots programmed to simulate being raped, and then what if any new laws, regulations, etc. might be appropriate," says John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington Law School.

Robots With Real Issues

Banzhaf says men can use sexbots to simulate rape, which may significantly increase the chance of rape to real women. The law should "no longer stand by and blindly ignore a major potential problem by doing nothing," he told the College Fix.

Sexualized robots are not just the stuff of science fiction, like the "Stepford Wives," "Westworld," and "Her." Animatronic sexbots today are being sold in the United States, Europe and Asia, and can sell for thousands of dollars each.

While Americans generally want the government to stay out of their bedrooms, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics raises ethical concerns. For example, some robots are programmed to resist sexual advances from their owners.

"The idea is robots would resist your sexual advances so that you could rape them," he said. "Some people say it's better they rape robots than rape real people. There are other people saying this would just encourage rapists more."

The Frigid Farrah Problem

Writing for the New York Times, Laura Bates cites the case of Frigid Farrah. She is a sexbot that sells for $9,995, and is programmable to resist being touched in her "private area."

Bates warns that robots like Farrah add to the risk of "normalizing rape by giving it a publicly acceptable face." Whether it's a female or a child sexbot, it promotes criminal conduct.

In a $30 billion sex-tech industry, manufacturers see the issue differently. They say sex aids have long existed to indulge human sexuality and sexbots are just the next thing.

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