Expanding intimacy: An institutional exploration of sex robots (2021)
Curator: Annette Masterson | Temple University | 2021
Acquisition Editor: Andrew Iliadis
Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Collection Archivist: Sharon Caldwell
Humanoid sex robots capture the imagination. Since the beginning of cinema, media representations of robots have primed audiences to envision a future with an ideal romantic and sexual partner without fear of emotional turmoil and rejection. In 2017 a robotic partner was revealed to the public signaling a new era of sex technology. Created by Realbotix, the Harmony model is a robotic head connected to an artificial intelligence mobile application via Bluetooth. Harmony’s head and face move mimicking basic emotional expressions and is attached to a RealDoll poseable silicon body. While this technology is in its infancy and continuing to develop, federal, state, and local legislative actors have implemented restrictions and regulations of sex doll models and businesses. This collection presents artifacts related to the developing field of sex robots to signify key issues and oftentimes conflicting viewpoints relevant to their emergence. The collection foregrounds the growing sex industry landscape through three stakeholder groups: corporate, lobbyist, and government. Corporate artifacts form a leading component of the collection due technology innovation. RealDoll and Realbotix patents, terms of service, privacy releases, marketing materials, and publicity press interviews with CEO Matt McMullen illuminate the corporate construction of the technology and indicate further expansions into artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Lobbyist organizations such as the anti-child abuse nonprofit, Prostasia Foundation, lobbies against restriction of child sex dolls and related technology to combat child abuse and incorporate into therapeutic measures. Conversely, governmental responses have currently centered on banning child sex dolls/robots across the United States and Australia and restricting U.S. sex robot brothels. Though sex dolls and robots remain a niche market, the technology has become a cultural phenomenon and may gain popularity. Similarly, narratives of sexual play and robotics reveal broad implications on the future of sexuality, love, and human connection.
Annette Masterson. Designing Love or Sex: A SCOT Analysis of a Sex Robot Creator's Vision.
International Communication Association conference. May 27-31, 2021.