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Technological advancements in robotics have fundamentally changed the way we shop, drive cars and undergo surgery but what happens when robots enter our bedrooms – as intimate partners? The launch of the world’s first commercially available sex robot ‘Harmony’ – a hyperrealistic sex doll with AI-capabilities – has inspired popular, scholarly and media debate about the impact of technology on our interpersonal relationships. Some of that debate is avowedly ‘speculative’ (Danaher and McArthur 2017: 4) because the technology is new, the sex robot market niche and, because most of us have never even seen a sex robot much less had sex with one, we rely on science fiction tropes generated in film and TV shows (Sharkey, Wynsberghe, Robbins and Hancock, 2017: 2). So, does the rise of the sex machine herald a ‘Brave Nude World’ of human sexual experience as one news headline claimed, or will these glamorous cyborgs destroy human relationships altogether? What are the legal and ethical implications of robotic sexual companions?
Join Dr Kate Devlin (author of Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots), Prof Stephen Maddison (author of Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters: Gender Dissent and Heterosocial Bonds in Gay Culture), Dr Rebecca Saunders (author of Bodies of Work: The Labour of Sex in the Digital Age) and Dr Belinda Middleweek (author of Real Sex Films: The New Intimacy and Risk in Cinema) for a discussion hosted by the Interdisciplinary Gender and Sexualities Research Centre about the impact of sex robots on our most intimate sphere – the realm of sex, love and intimacy.