David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands tells MSNBC’s Live Science that we’ll be having sex with robots within five years. Without wanting to reflect too much on whether long-married partners would consider sex with robots to be much of an innovation, I think the issue raises important ethical questions. Will robots be unionised, and if so will the be allowed to join the same unions as others who provide sexual services? Will there be a price differential in the sex trade, and if so, will robots be priced higher or lower than humans? Is it possible there may be a danger of client-to-client HIV transmission, with a robot acting as a reservoir for infected body fluids? (we worried about this a lot when the female condom first crackled into life).
Finally, a question of concern to policy-makers in Washington: will organisations working to secure safety for robots and their clients be allowed to accept funding from the US government, or will they, too, have to sign the “loyalty oath” that prevents us from improving working conditions in the sex industry?