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How Should we Regulate Child Sex Robots: Restriction or Experimentation?

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[This is a cross-post from the BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health blog. It is a short precis of my paper "Regulating Child Sex Robots: Restriction or Experimentation?"]In 2017, the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) decided to clamp down on the importation of child sex dolls into the UK. In doing so, they faced a problem. There was no established legal rule that explicitly banned the purchase and sale of these items. Consequently, the CPS had to get creative. They turned to an old 1876 law – the Customs Consolidation Act – that banned the importation of “obscene” items into the UK. Arguing that child sex dolls were obscene items, the CPS successfully prosecuted several individuals for purchasing them online and having them shipped to the UK.In doing this, the CPS argued that they were acting in the interests of child protection. They argued that the purchase of child sex dolls was not an isolated phenomenon. Individuals who purchased them were likely to engage with other forms of child pornography, which could, in turn, lead to or encourage offences against children in the real world.Child sex dolls are inanimate, human-like artifacts used for the purposes of sexual stimulation and gratification. But, given current technological trends, it is quite likely that people will create animate and robotized forms of these dolls in the near future. They are already doing this with adult forms of sex dolls. This raises the obvious question: what should the legal system do about these devices? Should we follow the lead of the CPS and look to ban their development, sale and use? Or should we permit them to be created on the grounds that, unlike other forms of child pornography, the creation of a child sex robot or doll does not involve any direct harm to real children?In my article, ‘Regulating Child Sex Robots: Restriction or Experimentation?’, I survey the possible answers to this question and make a specific case for pessimism about our capacity to adequately answer them.. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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