The morality of sex robots

June 16, 2014, 1:47 PM GMT+0

Americans are closely divided on whether or not sex with a robot is wrong, though only 10% say that they would actually have sex with a robot themselves

The latest attempt to create a realistic 'sex robot' - a robot designed to mimic a human and be used for sex - has hit the market, and any robotically-inclined people with $7,000 or more to spare can pick up 'Roxxxy'. Roxxxy is less a full robot than a large, expensive sex toy but as robotic and computer technology progresses it must only be a matter of time until a realistic sex robot is developed. What are the ethics of having a sex robot if the robot has artificial intelligence? Can a robot consent?

The latest research from YouGov shows that the use of sex robots poses a moral conundrum to most Americans. While few have any problem with masturbation in general (only 17% of Americans say that masturbating is morally wrong), 43% of Americans say that using sex robots is morally wrong. 39% say that using a sex robot is morally acceptable, with men (46%) and Democrats (46%) the most likely to say it's acceptable and over-65s (35%) the least.

When asked whether or not they would actually use a sex robot, however, people become a lot more bashful. Only 10% say that they would use a sex robot, while two-thirds (65%) flat out reject the idea and say that they would not. There is an interesting gender divide, however, as women (76%) are much more likely than men (53%) to say that they would never use a sex robot. Fully 47% of men either say that they would use a sex robot or aren't sure about whether they would, compared to only 24% of women.

This gender divide doesn't stop there, with men and women having different expectations about whether or not sex robots will ever become popular. While most men (57%) think that sex robot use will be common some day, only just over a third (38%) of women agree.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty