Move over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here.
Artificial intelligence is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic "sex tech" designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.
In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of "android love dolls" capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.
They can be customised down to their shape and hair colour and can cost up to US$15,000 ($20,645).
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The increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report says, including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders or for people with disabilities.
Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in Britain, says it is difficult to predict how far or fast the market will grow or what its effect on societies might be. "How would [sex with a robot] equate to a truly human intimate relationship?" he asked.
The report looks at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes. It found "major disagreement" on this question.
On the issue of "meaningful" relationships, the report says that with current AI technology, and even in the foreseeable future, no human-to-robot feelings will ever be mutual.
"The best robots could do is fake it," it said. "Robots cannot feel love."