Special Issue "Love and Sex with Robot"

A special issue of Robotics (ISSN 2218-6581).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Chamari Edirisinghe

Research Fellow, Imagineering Institute, Iskandar Puteri, Malaysia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social and cultural computing; smart urban environments; social robotics
Guest Editor
Prof. Adrian David Cheok

Director of the Imagineering Institute, Iskandar Malaysia and Chair Professor of Pervasive Computing at City, University of London, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: mixed reality; multisensory telepresence; sensors; pervasive computing
Guest Editor
Dr. David Levy

Intelligent Toys Ltd. London UK
E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since more and more robots are being developed with the ability to perform tasks independent of assistance, the perception of them as “mere machines” is being re-evaluated. Research and development all around the world is rapidly experimenting and commercializing robots that perform everyday services. The major challenge for humans will be how to deal with the close proximity of social robots, and the juxtaposition of new interactions. Social robots will play major roles in care giving, education, information and communication, etc., and when social robots are created with faultless physical dexterity and social skills, humans will naturally create new relationships with them. These connections will be diverse, and will compel society to redefine the prevailing definitions of human relations and bonds.

Close, everyday proximity to social robots is inevitable in the near future, and appreciation of their services will develop into them being part of human teams. Since robotic technology and artificial intelligence are moving at a great speed, in the future, one’s robot teammate will possibly be the friend that one shares secrets and dreams with. As a scenario, this might sound unimaginable in reality, but, in the next decade, humans will encounter robotic personalities that are remarkably similar to those of humans, and these robots will certainly be highly competent. With time, these entities will, not only answer us accurately, logically, and knowledgeably, but also laugh at our humor and reciprocate our feelings. The robots will develop into personas that one confides in, become partners with, falls in love with, wants to be intimate with, and bonds with in a legal union. 

Considering that these environments of contestation of the status quo will create challenging spaces, with media escalating the aspects of sensationalism in each new development, it is vital to build a scholastic dialogue on the different facets of these topics. Our intentions are, not only to discuss issues of robotics and artificial intelligence, but to also expand the conversation on human–robot interactions in addressing various nuances of human–robot relationships, their moral and ethical underpinnings, socio-cultural implications, and also to create a platform to discuss the challenges of informed decisions on regulatory measures for future HRI.

Dr. Chamari Edirisinghe
Prof. Adrian David Cheok
Dr. David Levy
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Robotics is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Robot Emotions
  • Humanoid Robots
  • Clone Robots
  • Entertainment Robots
  • Robot Personalities
  • Teledildonics
  • Intelligent electronic sex hardware
  • Gender Approaches
  • Affective Approaches
  • Psychological Approaches
  • Sociological Approaches
  • Roboethics
  • Philosophical Approaches
  • Moral & ethical Approaches

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Sexbots: Customizing Them to Suit Us versus an Ethical Duty to Created Sentient Beings to Minimize Suffering
Received: 15 August 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 6 November 2018 / Published: 11 November 2018
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Abstract
Sex robot scholarship typically focuses on customizable simulacra, lacking sentience and self-awareness but able to simulate and stimulate human affection. This paper argues that future humans will want more: sex robots customized to possess sentience and self-awareness [henceforth, sexbots], capable of mutuality in [...] Read more.
Sex robot scholarship typically focuses on customizable simulacra, lacking sentience and self-awareness but able to simulate and stimulate human affection. This paper argues that future humans will want more: sex robots customized to possess sentience and self-awareness [henceforth, sexbots], capable of mutuality in sexual and intimate relationships. Adopting a transdisciplinary critical methodology focused on the legal, ethical and design implications of sexbots, it assesses implications of sexbots’ non-mammalian subjectivity, balancing designed-in autonomy and control, decision-making capacity and consent, sexual preferences and desire, legal and moral status, vulnerability and contrasts between mammalian and non-mammalian moral decision-making. It explores theoretical, ethical, and pragmatic aspects of the tensions involved in creating sentient beings for utilitarian purposes, concluding that sexbots, customized manufactured humanlike entities with the capacity for thought and suffering, have a consequent claim to be considered moral and legal persons, and may become the first conscious robots. Customizing sexbots thus exemplifies many profound ethical, legal and design issues. The contradictions inherent in their inconsistent ethical and legal status as both manufactured things and sentient, self-aware entities who are customized to be our intimate partners augments existing human/animal scholars’ call for a new theoretical framework which supersedes current person/thing dichotomies governing human responsibilities to other sentient beings. The paper concludes that the ethical limits and legal implications of customizable humanlike robots must be addressed urgently, proposing a duty on humans as creators to safeguard the interests and minimize the suffering of created sentient beings before technological advances pre-empt this possibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Love and Sex with Robot)
Open AccessArticle
Beyond the Sex Doll: Post-Human Companionship and the Rise of the ‘Allodoll’
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 13 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 8 October 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (505 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The increasing market for realistic sex dolls has led to heated debate about future relationships with these entities and whether they could lead to an increasing objectification of women or possibly encourage abuse. However, limited academic research has been carried out on the [...] Read more.
The increasing market for realistic sex dolls has led to heated debate about future relationships with these entities and whether they could lead to an increasing objectification of women or possibly encourage abuse. However, limited academic research has been carried out on the topic, and little is known about the motivations and experiences of those who purchase and use sex dolls. Therefore, we conducted a mixed methods study of 83 participants, accessed through online doll forums, who completed a 22-item, semi-structured questionnaire. The majority were heterosexual, white, employed, middle-aged males; just over half were not in a current relationship, and approximately half lived alone. A thematic analysis revealed a high prevalence of non-sexual, post-human companionship dynamics between dolls and their owners, as well as reservations by doll owners about future robotic developments. In light of these findings, we suggest a new term, ‘allodoll’, which more accurately reflects the broader, non-sexual relationships of these doll owners, and could broaden the scope of future research. Although sex doll forums may be biased towards certain types of doll users, our findings may allay some of the fears of the more detrimental consequences of sex doll use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Love and Sex with Robot)
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Open AccessArticle
She’s Electric—The Influence of Body Proportions on Perceived Gender of Robots across Cultures
Received: 15 August 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
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Abstract
The assignment of gender to robots is a debatable topic. Subtle aspects related to gender, in a robot’s appearance, may create biased expectations of the robot’s abilities and influence user acceptance. The present research is a cross-cultural study involving more than 150 participants [...] Read more.
The assignment of gender to robots is a debatable topic. Subtle aspects related to gender, in a robot’s appearance, may create biased expectations of the robot’s abilities and influence user acceptance. The present research is a cross-cultural study involving more than 150 participants to investigate the perception of gender in robot design by manipulating body proportions. We are focusing specifically on the contrast between two extremely different cultures: Peruvian and Japanese. From the survey based on stimuli varying in the proportion between chest, waist, and hips, the results indicate the importance of chest-to-hip ratio and waist-to-hip ratio in the attribution of gender to robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Love and Sex with Robot)
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Open AccessArticle
User Evaluation of the Neurodildo: A Mind-Controlled Sex Toy for People with Disabilities and an Exploration of Its Applications to Sex Robots
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 20 August 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we present the Neurodildo, a sex toy remotely controlled by brain waves, which is pressure sensitive and has electrical stimulation (e-stim) feedback. The Neurodildo was originally presented as a conference paper at the 3rd International Congress on Love and Sex [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present the Neurodildo, a sex toy remotely controlled by brain waves, which is pressure sensitive and has electrical stimulation (e-stim) feedback. The Neurodildo was originally presented as a conference paper at the 3rd International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots (2017). We designed and explored the application of a mind-controlled sex toy for the people with mobility disabilities, for example with spinal cord injury (SCI), who have difficulty handling a commercial toy and that might experience difficulties in a sexual encounter. The system consists of the sex toy with Bluetooth and sensors, the brain-computer interface (BCI) headset, the e-stim device, and a computer for running the necessary software. The first user wears the headset and the e-stim device, and by focusing in trained patterns, he/she can control the vibration of the sex toy. The pressure applied to the sex toy by the second user is measured by sensors and transmitted and converted to the first user, who feels muscle contractions. We discuss the design process, the limitations of the prototype and how evaluating the user requirements is necessary for a better product. We also included a background and discussion on the application of sex robots for assisting disabled people and how the Neurodildo could be integrated with this futuristic technology. The goal of this project is to design a sex toy that might help people with disabilities and people in long-distance relationships (LDR), trying to fill the gap of sex toys designed for people with disabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Love and Sex with Robot)
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Open AccessArticle
Me, My Bot and His Other (Robot) Woman? Keeping Your Robot Satisfied in the Age of Artificial Emotion
Received: 14 June 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 15 August 2018
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Abstract
With a backdrop of action and science fiction movie horrors of the dystopian relationship between humans and robots, surprisingly to date-with the exception of ethical discussions-the relationship aspect of humans and sex robots has seemed relatively unproblematic. The attraction to sex robots perhaps [...] Read more.
With a backdrop of action and science fiction movie horrors of the dystopian relationship between humans and robots, surprisingly to date-with the exception of ethical discussions-the relationship aspect of humans and sex robots has seemed relatively unproblematic. The attraction to sex robots perhaps is the promise of unproblematic affectionate and sexual interactions, without the need to consider the other’s (the robot’s) emotions and indeed preference of sexual partners. Yet, with rapid advancements in information technology and robotics, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence and indeed, artificial emotions, there almost seems the likelihood, that sometime in the future, robots too, may love others in return. Who those others are-whether human or robot-is to be speculated. As with the laws of emotion, and particularly that of the cognitive-emotional theory on Appraisal, a reality in which robots experience their own emotions, may not be as rosy as would be expected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Love and Sex with Robot)
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