Dienstag, 24. April 2012

Robotic Prostitutes

A paper on how robotic prostitutes may change the sex tourism industry. It argues that they could replace human sex workers and so prevent forced prostitution and the spread of STI's .

This paper completely misses what prostitution is about and what the real issues are. If one only needs a roboter, one could just as well buy a fleshlight, blow-up-doll or masturbate to porn. Prostitution is about having sex with another human being, INTERACTING with them, not just ejaculating. Maybe the robots could replace sex workers who offer 10-Minute quickies, because there is not much communication there (although even here, there is!). But clients don't only want to jerk off, they want entertainment, the flirtation that may or may not be included in the price they pay, conversation, compliments, reassurance of their masculinity, human warmth, tenderness, sometimes dominance, and for clients of street prostitutes, the thrill of chasing around with the car in search. These are things that no robot can provide. The authors of this paper reduce prostitution to a mechanical act of sex. A robot that could satisfy what clients want would need to be capable of all the human interaction that gets ignored here.

A question in the article: "Would sex robots, I wonder, diminish the demand for human sex tourism enough to negatively impact the economies of certain regions?"

As showed above, Robots cannot replace human sex workers. But if we assume they could, then the answer is yes, definitely. For many women in third-world countries, prostitution is the only way to feed themselves and their children. This is of course terrible, but one doesn't help these women by taking away the only or one of the few choices they have. Human trafficking is a problem of poverty. The case where women are actually kidnapped is extremely rare- but especially in the lower-price sector, some are working under pressure of their families. Migration happens because of unequally distributed wealth across the nations- women (and some men) from poorer countries try to make the best of their position by being work-tourists in countries where they can earn more. Migrant sex workers "traffick" themselves in hope of a higher standard of life. Because they sometimes do it under high financial pressure, they have less bargaining power- this, and other factors like stigmatization of sex workers, leads to exploitation. Again, taking away jobs by introducing robots would not help anyone, on the contrary: Since there would be more competition, the women and men who do sex work to survive would have even less bargaining power.

About STI: Prostitutes use condoms, more so than the general population, if they are available. Under high pressure, some may start to do it without- this is the case now in Switzerland, where we simply have too many women from eastern europe doing street prostitution, so they have less and less bargaining power and have to risk their health to earn anything. But in general, one can't claim that sex workers contribute to the spread of STIs, at least in industrial nations where condoms are available. For preventing STI, it would be a much cheaper option to make condoms and education about safer sex more easily available in third world countries than to introduce expensive robots (which no poor country, as sex tourism destinations usually are, could afford anyway)

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