Are sex and intimacy intrinsically related? The proliferation of virtual relationships is changing traditional perceptions of desire worldwide. In Japan, a low birth rate is raising serious concerns over whether virtual partners are replacing relationships between humans altogether and, in Barcelona, a sex doll brothel has recently opened.
The ability to separate emotional pleasure from physical pleasure in virtual relationships is an ethical minefield. On one hand, sex robots could potentially reduce crimes such as rape and human trafficking, but, on the other, they could lead to the further objectification of human beings or skewed attitudes towards consent.
Our panel of specialists, digital culture expert, Trudy Barber, and Reader in Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI, Kathleen Richardson, will examine the possibility that virtual and human relationships could exist side-by-side in modern society, or whether the rise of the sex bot will change the face of human sexual relationships forever.