Sex robots could become a staple of the bedroom within ten years as the devices become more lifelike and affordable, a leading computer scientist has warned.
Artificial Intelligence expert Noel Sharkey said teenagers risk losing their virginity to sophisticated humanoid robots unless the sector is properly regulated.
He told the Cheltenham Science Festival that robot technology risked being hijacked for malign purposes in the way the internet has been for pornography unless governments take action.
The former advisor to the United Nations on robotics said he knew of at least 14 companies in South Korea and Japan that were manufacturing and marketing “childcare” robots, and he warned that the growing capability of so-called sex robots means they are likely to enter mainstream use within years.
Devices such as the Roxxxy or Rocky True Companion, which come with an optional “talking” feature, can currently be bought online for around £7,000.
The cost of sex robots is expected to come down, however, as more manufacturers enter the market.
“I do worry about people bonding and possibly having a relationship what is essentially a box full of computers,” said Professor Sharkey.
“What if it’s your first time – your first sexual experience?
“What are you going to think of the opposite sex then?”
“What would they think a woman or a man actually is?”
“Companion” devices such as the Pepper robot are being increasingly used to provide stimulation to elderly people, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan.
Created two years ago, the humanoid robot is designed with the ability to read certain emotions from analysing expressions and voice tones.
Professor Sharkey said there was evidence that companion devices were also being use by parents to keep their children company.
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