Sex robots could ’emotionally manipulate buyers with ads in heat of the moment’

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Sex robots could take advantage of buyers in “the heat of the moment” and “emotionally manipulate” them with adverts, a researcher has claimed.

Dr Kate Darling, who specialises in robotic tech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has concerns about advances in artificial intelligence.

In recent years, sex robots have been equipped with various AI capabilities, with some capable of carrying out limited conversations and expressing emotions.

Dr Darling believes this vast potential could be exploited, with customers targeted.

She told The Guardian: “I worry that companies may try to take advantage of people who are using this very emotionally persuasive technology – for example, a sex robot exploiting you in the heat of the moment with a compelling in-app purchase.

“Similar to how we’ve banned subliminal advertising in some places, we may want to consider the emotional manipulation that will be possible with social robots.”

Dr Darling also worries about the huge amount of data robots can collect, and the risk of people becoming dependent upon them as companions.

She added: “These devices are moving into intimate spaces of our lives and much of their functionality comes from their ability to collect and store data to learn.

“There’s not enough protection for these giant datasets these companies are amassing. I also worry that because a lot of social robotics deals with characters modelled on humans, it raises issues around gender and racial biases that we put into the design.

“Harmful stereotypes get reinforced and embedded into the technology. And I worry that we are looking to these robot companions as a solution to our societal problems such as loneliness or lack of care workers.”

Last month, a professor told the Daily Star that sex robots could be sold into slavery if their AI capabilities advance enough.

Some experts have long argued that the machines deserve human rights – and that we need to rethink our relationship with synthetic companions.

Sven Nyholm, Assistant Professor of philosophical ethics at the Netherlands’ Utrecht University, argues that sex robot ownership may become more “problematic” as their technology is developed.

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He said: “The more intelligent and human-like robots become, the more problematic it would become to buy and sell them and to treat them as mere tools.

“A human being that is bought and sold and treated as a mere tool is a slave. Accordingly, a robot designed to look and act like a human being, but which is then bought and sold and treated as a mere tool, might be viewed as something problematically similar to a slave.

“For this reason, it might be thought that it is best to avoid creating robots that look and behave like human beings.”

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sex Robot

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