Considering that robots are predicted to be indistinguishable from humans by 2050, there will eventually be humans that prefer having sex with sex dolls and robots — or with technological enhancements like virtual reality goggles and teledildonics — more than with biological humans. In fact, they already exist. People like this have started self-identifying as “digisexual,” and two leading thinkers on digisexuality predict that digisexuals will face societal discrimination for their sexuality.
Digisexuals will face social stigma somewhat like what LGBTQ people face
In a paper recently published in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy, two researchers — Neil McArthur, a professor of philosophy, and Markie Twist, a professor interested in sex therapy and family counseling — say that because sex robots “will do things that human partners cannot or will not do,” some humans will form “an intense connection with their robot companions” that may trump their feelings for humans.
In a recent interview, McArthur said, “The more we studied the emergence of what we call ‘second wave’ digisexual technologies … the more we realized that digisexuals are going to emerge as a real community, and they are going to face resistance from the start.”
The researchers say they want to help the digisexual community realize there’s a name, an identity and a community behind their feelings — things that empower and provide visibility to stigmatized and excluded communities, just as they have to groups like asexuals, bisexuals and kinksters.
In the same interview, Twist said she and McArthur want to explore “how technology impacts sexual-identity formation, and how people with technologically-based sexual identities may face stigma and prejudice.”
She adds, “Whips and chains can cause a lot of harm, too. That doesn’t mean we should make kinky people feel like freaks.”
McArthur says, “We shouldn’t be afraid of [digisexuals]. We should be willing to experiment with them, and to enjoy what they have to offer. People’s anxiety around sex and technology can cause them to miss out on things they might really enjoy.”
Ultimately, McArthur and Twist say that they also want to begin a conversation around the ethics of digisexuality and the discrimination that digisexuals will inevitably face from people who reject their sexuality as unnatural or immoral.
The ethical issues facing digisexuals
One futuristic site predicts that sex with robotic sex workers will help reduce STD risks, end sex trafficking and add years onto our lives as we lessen our stress levels and strengthen our immune systems through back-to-back robo-gasms.
And this raises serious ethical questions. Considering that “robot” comes from a root word meaning “slave,” it’s unclear whether robot sex workers will merely be modern sex slaves. Should we allow people to have sex with robots designed to look like children or animals?
Also, how will companies respond to consumers trying to screw non-sex robots, like robots designed for customer service in banks and hotels?
There’s also the question of how the rise of sex robots will economically benefit (or harm) their human creators and sex worker counterparts.
These are just a few questions pertaining to digisexuality that will eventually need to be addressed.
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