Unfortunately, it might be a question that society has to answer a lot sooner rather than later. A company in Japan already creates a sex doll designed to resemble a child, the BBC reports. A court in Canada is currently trying to determine whether owning such a robot is legal, after a man from Newfoundland ordered one that was intercepted at a Canadian airport. The man was charged with possessing child pornography but has pleaded not guilty.
On balance, the report seems to take a stand against allowing such robots to become permissible by society, quoting the director of the ethics and emerging sciences at California Polytechnic State University.
“Treating pedophiles with robot sex-children is both a dubious and repulsive idea," said Patrick Lin. "Imagine treating racism by letting a bigot abuse a brown robot. Would that work? Probably not.”
The report also raised concerns that humans would learn the wrong kind of lessons about consent when interacting with sex robots that they can access whenever they want, and suggested that in order to counterbalance that we would need to teach people to seek consent from robots.
"If robots don't have rights, then they don't require consent for us to treat them in a certain way, whether it's kicking them or having sex with them," they quote in the report.
"But again, we could still be obligated to seek consent, even if they don't have rights. If it's important to society that we teach people that sex requires consent, then it's not absurd to build in those norms in human-robot interaction. We're socially conditioning people to act in better ways. So, consent here isn't about the robot per se, but it's about what our action says to society."