If we had sex with robot sex dolls and if they could talk like they do in Westworld, would we still think of them as mere objects? Would a married man be charged with adultery when a smart sex doll is in full swing? First of all, the theologian and ethicist Véronique Margron has to define the term. “We do not love each other to be faithful, we are faithful because this faithfulness serves our love”. You are not just a sex doll for pleasure.
“Honey, I need to talk to you about……. I cheated on you with a robot.” Fiction you say? The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the intimate relationship between artificial intelligence described in Joaquin Phoenix’s and Spike Jonze’s film Her and could become reality. As Japanese gamers fall in love with video game heroines (LovePlus on Nintendo DS) and consumers are attracted to inflatable dolls by Lars and real-life girls, intelligent sex robots that look like two drops of water to humans are about to knock on our doors.
The author of Fidelity-infidelity (Editions du Cerf) insists that “infidelity jeopardizes the betrayal of the given word”. She is breaking the contract of trust. Masturbation fantasies — and sex robots — don’t have much to do with any of this. “Fantasy tends to be non-consensual and eludes people,” says Margron. Inflatable sex dolls, intelligent or not, have an improved sex toy that we can influence. A good hand job, that’s all.
Laurence Devillers, a professor and researcher at the CNRS Laboratory of Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering and author of the book Robots and People: Myth, Fantasy and Reality (Plon), seems to share the same view. “Falling in love with a robot is falling in love with an object. The machine caters to the one-sided needs of a person who is struggling to relate to another person. The interesting thing about such a relationship is the reciprocity. Sex is characterized by pleasure and frustration.
Sleeping with a machine that looks like us, that interacts with us, that we feel love for, sounds a lot like adultery, doesn’t it? “It’s a betrayal of one’s humanity,” says Margron. But for now it’s all science fiction.