While much of the talk about robots and robotics these days centers on the utility of the machines for the workplace, there’s another aspect to robots, one much darker, that is beginning to garner a great deal of attention.
As much as technology has often shown itself to be very much a doubled-edged sword, it would be difficult to say that anywhere else is that more apparent than it is with respect to the development of lifelike robots created to be sexual partners for humans.
But that is, stunningly, and sadly enough, where we are, presently. Worse, there is now a company in Japan, Harumi Designs, that actually makes sex robots in the image of children.
This latest example of the breathless descent into the abyss of immorality has captured the attention of a variety of observers, including Christian ethicists, who have very definite thoughts on the use of robots as sexual partners from the perspective of Christianity.
Tobias Winright, associate professor of Theological Ethics at Saint Louis University related his concerns to the The Christian Post in an email, saying, in part, “As a Christian, I think non-mutual, non-consensual sexual activity is contrary to mutually donative love-making. Thus, sexual activity with a simulacrum seems to me quite a stretch from when two persons, who are made in God's image, sexually express their love for each other, transcending and giving beyond the self with the other, and thereby imaging God who is agape.”
For his part, Dennis P. Hollinger, the president and Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, told The Christian Post that sexual relations with robots “is contrary to the very nature of sex, a very personal giving of one’s self to another.”
“From a Christian standpoint sex is a ‘one-flesh’ relationship that is the most intimate, loving, uniting act between two human beings. Robots for sex in general should perhaps not be banned by law, but we must see robotic sex as intrinsically troubling ethically.”
Particularly disconcerting is that there even needs to be a discussion pointing out why sex with robots is “ethically troubling.” Indeed, that may be the most unfortunate thing of all.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large