The machines may enable pedophilia and sexual violence rather than preventing them.

Red Flags

Once again, scientists are calling for a moratorium on sex robots built to replace human relationships.

Unless authorities impose strong regulations on the budding industry, experts told the BBC they can see a future where robots built to look like children or programmed to play the part of a rape victim could enable sexual violence against real-world victims. It's a disturbing image — the latest in a long line of warnings that lifelike sex robots could be psychologically dangerous.

Who Benefits?

If AI-driven sex robots will exist in the world, Duke University researcher Christine Hendren told the BBC that they ought to at least be built according to rigorous ethical standards.

"Some robots are programmed to protest, to create a rape scenario," Hendren told BBC. "Some are designed to look like children. One developer of these in Japan is a self-confessed pedophile, who says that this device is a prophylactic against him ever hurting a real child. But does that normalize and give people a chance to practice these behaviors that should be treated by just stamping them out?"

Toxic Expectations

Kathleen Richardson, a robotics and AI ethicist at Leicester University, wants sex robot companies to be banned from marketing them as life partners or replacements for actual relationships, a common selling point for the ungodly tech.

"A relationship with a girlfriend is based on intimacy, attachment and reciprocity. These are things that can't be replicated by machines," Richardson told the BBC. "Are we going to move into a future where we keep normalizing the idea of women as sex objects?"

READ MORE: Sex robots may cause psychological damage [BBC]

More on sex robots: We Have No Idea What Having Sex With Robots Might Do to Us

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