As I venture more into artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, I will encounter a lot of issues for which there are no clear or right answers. As I learn about them, I will also think about them to formulate an opinion on each issue to form a more complete perspective of it all. I will form an opinion, even if the opinion were it doesn’t matter to me… or at least not yet.
A week ago, I came across an excellent article in the Culture section of the BBC website called Would Sex with a Robot Be Infidelity? Here is my perspective after reading it and some other articles.
First, I realized that infidelity meant very different things to different people. For some, actions that would not even be considered flirting by most people might be considered infidelity. On the other end, with swingers and polyamorous people, sex with multiple partners doesn’t have to be infidelity under the “right” conditions and circumstances, which are usually agreed upon by all parties involved. For the sake of the general population for whom I intend to write article, I will take a general definition of infidelity. I’m not going to define that, though, as I think most of that general population would have a common enough definition of infidelity, a traditional one, that it would not differ too much from one person to the next. Fortunately, I don’t have to define it in terms of my answer. I only have to state for the rest of the argument that this sex is not to the partner’s liking and consent, because if it were, then it’d be no different than the swingers and poly people of sex happening under the right conditions and circumstances. Also, the robots would be similar to humans, in looks and possibly even emotive, to create a situation similar to sex with another human being that most of us would consider infidelity. We’ve had mechanical sex toys otherwise for some time now. They have fewer mechanical controls with time, and nobody seems too concerned about sex with them being infidelity.
I’m a very practical person, so my answer to if sex with human like robots constituted infidelity, is the question of does it matter? If your partner were having sex with a robot, not to your liking and without your consent, you clearly have issues in your relationship! You could call it infidelity if you want, but your partner might not. That might well how they might have justified it were OK to have sex with robots in the first place, and it’d be just one more argument among many you might have in sorting out the issue. It’s not the term that matters.
The more important question for me regarding if sex with robots were infidelity would be can you get over the hump? OK. That was a really bad pun, but true in both senses of the word, the sex and the challenge facing you and your partner on how to fix your relationship. How is s/he still feeling about you? How are you feeling towards him/her? Is it enough on both ends to allow both partners to continue the relationship? The sex act is only symptom of some bigger problem. Using it as the problem to justify your actions is really indicating the problem had hit some threshold that it can no longer be ignored, or at least to the extent as before. It’s not the problem so calling it infidelity or not doesn’t matter. Check on trust, love, emotional satisfaction, enjoyment of time spent together, or possibly lack thereof, among any number of other potential problems.
The ultimate test of answering any question on how people should feel about anything, is to put yourself in that situation. So what if my lover had sex with a human like robot? Fortunately for this article, I don’t currently have one so I can write without offending anybody. If my lover had sex with a human like robot, that would be the end of the relationship for me. I wouldn’t consider it infidelity. I would just see it as she needing enough of whatever it were that led her to sex with the robot, that I couldn’t provide in our relationship, that she should not need to have the robot and myself to get. She should be able to get that from one partner, and obviously, I am not the one. The robot might not be, either, but I can only speak for myself that I am not the one. She might argue otherwise, but I won’t be in a relationship where I can’t provide some threshold for my lover as her partner. That ranges from housework to sex to money to other factors, but her seeking sexual intimacy from another, robot or person, is more than that threshold.
Would that not be infidelity then? No, and the easy explanation for that would be my reaction and actions to those reactions would still be the same if she had approached me to seriously talk about having sex with a robot, before doing it. That’d would just be a matter of politeness in the act, with all the same problems still persisting. Now, if she did not go ahead with it and wanted to work through our problems instead, I’d stop to consider her proposal. Pending the issues, severity and options for effectively solving them, I may give it a chance to fix the relationship. But if she had gone ahead without discussion, then it would be clear to me she had decided there was no point of trying any more.
So easy peasy, right? lol
If you didn’t agree with my point of view, that’s perfectly fine, of course. Hopefully, I gave you enough to think about to formulate your point of view in detail and not just have a gist of an answer. If you want something more scientific, and the public’s point of view on this matter in a survey, try this Smithsonian article that state 9% of people would have sex with a robot, and that 42% would consider it cheating. They also have a simpler conclusion for what people thought would constitute cheating when it comes to robots, and that’s a sex toy with legs, eyes and a face. Interesting, indeed! 🙂