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Sex robots or sexbots are anthropomorphic robot sex dolls. As of 2018, no functioning sex robots exist. There is controversy as to whether developing them would be morally justifiable. In 2014, David Levy, the chess champion and author of Love and Sex with Robots said in an interview with Newsweek that “I believe that loving sex robots will be a great boon to society … There are millions of people out there who, for one reason or another, cannot establish good relationships.” He estimates that this will take place by the mid-21st century. There are ongoing attempts to make sex dolls socially interactive. In 2010, a sex doll called Roxxxy that had the capacity to play back pre-recorded speech cues was demonstrated at a trade show. In 2015, Matt McMullen, the creator of the RealDoll stated that he intended to create sex dolls with the capacity to hold conversations. Sexbots with a male design may be referred to as malebots or manbots.
Barcelona based Dr. Sergi Santos developed sex robot Samantha; the robot can switch between a sex setting (which can include Samantha simulating an orgasm) and a family mode. It can also can tell jokes and discuss philosophy. In September 2015, Kathleen Richardson of De Montfort University and Erik Billing of the University of Skövde created the Campaign Against Sex Robots, calling for a ban on the creation of anthropomorphic sex robots. In a journal article Richardson is critical of Levy and argues that the introduction of such devices would be socially harmful, and demeaning to women and children. In September 2015, the Japanese company SoftBank, the makers of the Pepper robot, included a ban on robot sex. The robots user agreement states: “The policy owner must not perform any sexual act or other indecent behaviour”. Noel Sharkey and Aimee van Wynsberghe of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics released a consultation report presenting a summary of the issues and various opinions about what could be society’s intimate association with robots. The report includes an examination of how such robots could be employed as a sexual therapy tool for rapists or paedophiles. Sharkey warns that this could be “problematic” in terms of sex dolls resembling children.
The First International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots was held in Funchal, Madeira in November 2014. In October 2015 a second conference scheduled for November 2015 in Malaysia was declared illegal by the Malaysian Inspector-General of Police. The second conference was eventually held in December 2016 chaired by Dr. Kate Devlin at Goldsmiths, University of London in the United Kingdom. Devlin also founded the UK’s first ever sex tech hackathon, also held in 2016 at Goldsmiths. In 2016, a discussion of these issues was held at the 12th IFIP TC9 Human Choice & Computers Conference, entitled “Technology and Intimacy: Choice or Coercion?”.