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Open letter from campaign against sex robots

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The Campaign Against Sex Robots, open letterChallenging the view that the development of adult and child sex robots will be a positive benefit to society.

Over the last decades, an increasing amount of money and effort from both academia and industry has gone into the development of sex robots – that is, machines in the form of women or children for use as sex objects, as substitutes for human partners or prostituted persons.

The Campaign Against Sex Robots (CASR) sees these kinds of robots as potentially harmful and that they will contribute to inequalities in society.

Numerous articles and campaigns now promote the development of sex robots without critically examining their potentially detrimental effect on society.

But as humanoid robots become more widespread it is necessary to develop an engaged ethical response to their development.

The ideas behind the Campaign Against Sex Robots were presented in a paper at Ethicomp 2015, and are, in short:

The Campaign Against Sex Robots believes the development of sex robots further sexually objectifies women and children.

The vision for sex robots is underscored by reference to prostitute-john exchange which relies on recognising only the needs and wants of the buyers of sexual abuse, the persons in prostitution are not attributed subjectivity and reduced to a thing (just like the robot).

The development of sex robots and the ideas to support their production show the immense horrors still present in the world of prostitution which is built on the “perceived” inferiority of women and children and therefore justifies their use as sex objects.

And the development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship.

The Campaign Against Sex Robots challenges the view that the development of adult and child sex robots will have a positive benefit to society, but instead further reinforce power relations of inequality and violence.

And the campaign takes issue with arguments that propose that sex robots could help reduce sexual exploitation and violence towards prostituted persons; all the evidence shows how technology and the sex trade coexist and reinforce each other creating more demand for human bodies.

The Campaign Against Sex Robots have now written an open letter outlining the dangers of normalising sex dolls and sex robots to the European Parliament and the UK government:

‘We are a coalition of humanists, parents, women’s groups, survivors, academics, and activists campaigning against commercial objectification of human beings who are concerned with the normalisation of “sex robots”.

These technologies are developed and backed by academic and business robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) communities who have to date, the loudest voices shaping the policy direction about the benefits of sex robots while largely ignoring the potentially dangerous effects on women, men, and children.

The Campaign Against Sex Robots (CASR) was launched in 2015 to draw attention to the new ways in which the idea of forming ‘relationships’ with machines is becoming increasingly normalised in today’s culture.

Sex robots are animatronic humanoid dolls with penetrable orifices where consumers are encouraged to look upon these dolls as substitutes for women (predominantly), and they are marketed as ‘companions’, ‘girlfriends’ or ‘wives’.

At a time when pornography, prostitution and child exploitation is facilitated and proliferated by digital technology turning it into a global profitable industry; these products further promote the objectification of the female body and as such constitute a further assault on human intimacy.

We are also concerned that childlike dolls and robots are being promoted as ‘therapeutic’ for ‘non-offending paedophiles’ (NOP) and paedophiles.

We reject the naturalisation of paedophilia as a ‘sexual preference’ and reject terms such as ‘pedosexual’ or ‘minor attracted person’ that serve to legitimise adult sexual violence against children.

In 2017-2018, CASR supported a move to ban electronic and artificial representations of children for adult predators in the form of the CREEPER ACT that was successfully passed in the House of Representatives reading in the United States.

We also believe that sex dolls and sex robots in the female form add to the pervasive culture where sexual violence against women and girls is reiterated in new ways.

Despite female political equality, women and girls still face serious threats of sexual violence from domestic abuse and rape to up-skirting and revenge porn.

Two women are murdered each week at the hands of former or existing male partners, and mass grooming gangs have targeted vulnerable young girls for decades.

Studies show that strong ties and relationships are good for people and society and that the weakening of our social ties is a major contributory factor in mental health distress, economic insecurity and human isolation for women, men and children.

It is therefore in the best interests of society to cultivate a culture of mutual support and interdependence and put breaks on those social practices that reinforce a culture of isolation.

We believe robots and AI should be used for the good of humanity and should not be funded or produced in forms that increase human social problems.

Government ministers lag behind technological developments and often respond with constructive policies when it is too late and the damage to human society has been done.

We urge the European Union and the UK Parliament to conduct public consultations ahead of developing legislation in line with European and UK sex discrimination laws and the European Union’s commitment to the UN Rights of the Child.’

This letter has been signed by the following organisations and private individuals:

Campaign Against Sex Robots, Women Against Sexbots, Nordic Model Now!, FiLiA, nia, Critical Sisters, Object!, Not Buying It!, Collective Shout, Resist Porn Culture, Prostitution Research & Education, Ressources Prostitution, Victim Focus, CARE, Culture Reframed, Untameable Shrews, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, Build a Girl Project, Centre for Women’s Justice, The World Youth Alliance, Zero Option for Sheffield, Freedom Programme, L’Agenda delle Donne

and Professor Kathleen Richardson, Nika Mahnič, Kate Davis, Anna Fisher, Professor Katina Michael, Rachel Bell, Lisa-Marie Taylor, Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, Caitlin Roper, Melinda Tankard Reist, Mie Oehlenschläger, Professor Kathleen Stock, Meghan Murphy, Dr Safia Barikzai, Sally Jackson, Jessica Eaton, Kate Hillman, Lise Bouvet, Enrique Benítez, Dr Gabriela Gallegos Garrido, Fiona Broadfoot, Suzzan Blac and Erin Mansell.

To add your name, click here.

If you would like to add your organisation please email campaignagainstsexrobots@gmail.com

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