Sex with a robot could be bad for you and society, an editorial published by the British Medical Journal has warned.
Susan Bewley, women's health professor at Kings College London and Chantal Cox-George of St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, expressed their concerns in an editorial published on Monday by BMJ.
Titled "I, Sex Robot: the health implications of the sex robot industry," the doctors warned that there is a "paucity of an evidence base" to backup the claims that sexbots can reduce any criminal or unhealthy behavior.
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"This might falsely reassure clinicians not to concern themselves with changing their current clinical practice," wrote the medical experts.
"However, an absence of evidence does not excuse the medical profession from discussing and debating the issues, as there will inevitably be consequences for physical, mental and social well-being."
The editorial went on to explain both the arguments for and against using sexbots for things like safer sexual intercourse, and therapeutic treatment for pedophiles and rapists by encouraging them to engage their fantasies with a human-looking robot.
Bewley and Cox-George called for more research on the topics, but added that medical professionals and the general public should err on the side of caution regarding claims of benefits from sexbot usage.
"Currently, the 'precautionary principle' should reject the clinical use of sexbots until their postulated benefits, namely 'harm limitation' and 'therapy', have been tested empirically," wrote the doctors.
"The UK General Medical Council and medical defence organisations have not issued any guidance, but doctors might be advised to avoid using sexbots themselves, given police interest, prosecutions, and the potential negative impact on public trust."
As robotic technology has improved over the years, there has been growing effort to create robots meant to simulate sexual activity, with some arguing that this could represent a healthier alternative to other sexual practices.
In a 2017 report, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics concluded that while sexbots could potentially help with sexual healing and therapy, as well as reduce sex crimes, there was no professional consensus.
"On one side, there is a small number who believe that expressing disordered or criminal sexual desires with a sex robot would satiate them to the point where they would not have the desire to harm fellow humans," the report stated.
"On the other side, there are scholars and therapists who believe that this would be an indulgence that could encourage and reinforce illicit sexual practices. This may work for a few but it is a very dangerous path to tread and research could be very difficult ... It may be that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with sex robots could have a pernicious effect on society and societal norms and create more danger for the vulnerable."
Christian ethicists including Tobias Winright, Maeder Endowed Associate Professor of Health Care Ethics in the Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University, take issue with the idea of sexbots.
"I think non-mutual, non-consensual sexual activity is contrary to mutually donative love-making. Thus, sexual activity with a simulacrum seems to me quite a stretch from when two persons, who are made in God's image, sexually express their love for each other, transcending and giving beyond the self with the other, and thereby imaging God who is agape," said Winright in comments given to The Christian Post last year.
"Any sexual activity that treats the other person as merely an object or a thing for only one's gratification is morally problematic, and I worry that sexual activity with an object such as a robot might encourage, through regular practice over a period of time, such an attitude toward an actual human being, whether one's spouse or a future partner."
Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch.com, made a similar point for CP in 2015.
"Sex with a robot is far from the purpose/intent of God's design for sex in the first place," Gross said. While we live "in a world that seemingly overdoses on pleasure," pleasure is a benefit, not the purpose of sex.
"Oneness is the purpose," he continued. "Oneness with another human being. No, let me be even more specific than that: Oneness between a husband and wife (Genesis 2:24-25)."