Would 'Deviant' Sex Robots Violate Asimov's Law of Robotics?

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
October 15, 2018

Like it or not, sex robots are already here, and someday they might hurt you, if you ask nicely.  As they cater to an ever-increasing range of tastes, some folks predict BDSM types (bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism) in the future bedroom.

But, wait, you might ask: wouldn’t these “deviant” or non-normative types violate the basic robot-ethics principle to not hurt people?

Sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov gave us the First Law of Robotics is: a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  But sex-bots that spank, whip, and tie people up would seem to do exactly that.

Though it might seem silly, this discussion is actually relevant to AI and robotics in many other industries.  What constitutes harm will be important for, say, medical and caretaking robots that may be instructed to “do no harm.”

Here, we’ll go deeper into the question, suspending our disbelief that Asimov’s Laws are mostly a plot device and not a serious proposal.  The first thing we need to do is to make sure that the Law in question is conceptually clear, especially its key terms of “harm” and “injury” (which we’ll take as synonymous enough).

Read the full piece at Forbes