Child Sex Robots: The Panacea for Pedophilia?
Child sex bots (CSB’s) are the next big thing within the adult entertainment industry. Although life-like adult sex dolls have been in existence for a while, what is relatively new are life like CSBs with state-of-the-art fabrication techniques, artificial intelligence (AI) and programming applications, which takes the sophistication of these dolls to another level (Chatterje, 2017).
As sex dolls become increasingly realistic, an important question to ask is how the law should respond when these specific devices are made for, and used by pedophiles?
Unfortunately, CSBs are being sold on various websites such as eBay, and Amazon according to The National Crime Agency (NCA). Activists have encouraged government officials to outlaw the trade. There have also been calls to ban the import of sex robots designed to look like children (Evans, 2017).
These specific child-like dolls, which are manufactured overseas, are now starting to catch the attention of law makers from attempts to import them. For example, U.S. Representative Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced legislation in 2017, that would ban the importation and distribution of child sex dolls and child sexbots (Cox, 2018). This proposed bill is called the “CREEPER Act”, Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots.
Would Child Sex Robots Stop Pedophilia?
How to deal with such dolls and their robot counterparts is an unfamiliar question for the law. There are arguments to be made that these contrivances may be used as therapeutic devices keeping pedophiles from offending. During the Forbidden Research conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Ron Arkin, a robotics engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, argued people should not only legally be permitted to have sex dolls that resemble children, but perhaps some should be given prescriptions for them. Dr. Arkin further states:
“Virtual Reality (VR) and sex robots might function as an outlet for people to express their urges, redirecting dark desires toward machines and away from real children. If it works, it could help past offenders reintegrate harmlessly into society as well as helping prevent those who have never offended from doing so.” (Rutkin, 2016)
Another researcher, Michael C. Seto, the director of the Forensic Research Unit at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada, echoed Arkin’s suggestion regarding virtual reality and child sex dolls. He believes it is possible that virtual child pornography content or other simulations such as child sex robots might be a safer outlet for at least certain individuals who are sexually attracted to minors (McCrum, 2016).
Conversely, Dr. Kathleen Richardson, a professor of ethics and culture of robots at De Montfort University in Leicester, England and director of the U.K.-based nonprofit Campaign Against Sex Robots isn’t convinced that these provocative machines will curb the depraved sexual appetite of a pedophile (Cox, 2018).
Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and the Law
According to Murphy (2015), virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional picture or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way. As technology has progressed, we are quickly approaching a point, if not already there, where virtual images and videos are nearly indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts. In the same vein, recent research has shown that when CSBs and robots have a “voice”, whether pre-recorded or recordable, or in the case of (A.I.), programmed to stroke the user’s ego; they provide positive reinforcement by telling the user how much they enjoy all acts performed on them, including violence and forced sex with one or multiple adults. This is problematic because for a pedophile who is already convinced that a human child enjoys sexual contact, the doll or robot is confirming this sadistic belief through verbal statements, such as “I like it when you touch me there.” (Shapiro & Mara, 2015; Bandura, 1986; Paul & Linz, 2008; Scheutz & Arnold, 2017).
Ultimately, crime is evolving alongside technology. The law needs to keep up and think ahead to meet the challenges of the future. There must be a realization that new technology and (A.I.) specifically, are a double edge sword. While there are good uses of technology that will/has made society and humanity better, there are more nefarious uses of this same technology.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice HallChatterjee, B.B. (2017, August 3). Child sex dolls and robots: exploring the legal challenges. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/child-sex-dolls-and-robots-exploring-the-legal-challenges-81912
Cox, D. (2018, January 4). Would Child Sex Robots Stop Pedophilia — or Promote it? Some say the devices could provide a safe outlet for individuals who are sexually attracted to children. Mach. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/would-child-sex-robots-stop-pedophilia-or-promote-it-ncna834576
Evans, M. (2017, July 31). Child-like sex dolls are being sold on websites such as eBay and Amazon, crime agency warns as churchwarden is convicted. The Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/31/child-like-sex-dolls-sold-websites-ebay-amazon-crime-agency/
McCrum, K. (2016, August 3). Sex robots and virtual reality could stop paedophiles offending against real-life children say experts. The Mirror. Retrieved from https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/sex-robots-virtual-reality-could-8550082
Murphy B.J. (2015, April 9). The Legal Dilemma of Age Play in Virtual and Augmented Play. Retrieved from https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/more/murphy20150409Paul,
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Scheutz, M. & Arnold, T. (2017). Intimacy, Bonding and Sex Robots: Examining Empirical Results and Exploring Ethical Ramifications. Unpublished Manuscript
Shapiro, L.R. & Maras, H.M. (2017). Child Sex Dolls and Robots: More Than Just an Uncanny Valley. Journal of Internet Law