Designing the robot that says "NO": Design and ethical implications of love and sex relations with robots

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The possibility of love and sex relations between humans and robots has been put on the scientific map by David Levy. In his doctoral dissertation Intimate relationships with artificial partners (2007a), he defended the thesis that such relationships will necessarily happen and will improve the lives of the humans involved. Technical developments on emotion and personality simulation and current societal discussions about the use of sex robots call for, respectively, an updated look at the design implications for such robots and for a virtue-ethical critique of Levy’s argument. I develop both in this thesis and do so in three steps. First, I will critically analyze Levy’s argument and use insights from the field of philosophy of technology to argue that Levy’s instrumental view of robots does not correctly capture human–robot interaction. Second, I will connect Levy’s predictions to current developments in artificial intelligence and robotics. This step will answer what the current and near-future possibilities and limitations with respect to our ability to create androids are. Third, I give an ethical analysis of Levy’s view on human–robot interaction, based on the critique I developed in the first part and the updated view on robotics from the second part. For this analysis I use virtue ethics, which is specifically suited to pragmatic, situated interactions between humans and robots. To illustrate how such an ethical analysis helps us to better understand intimate relations between robots and humans, I present a potential case study. iii
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen