Presentation 2

21 Oct 2014

Presentation 2

The Call

From the Insitute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Which technologies, especially new ones, are likely to have the greatest impact on human beings and human societies in the 21st century?

What ethical issues do new technologies and their applications raise for humans, our civilization, and our world?

The IEET has opened a request for proposals for art work that explores, investigates, examines the unintended consequences of new, emerging, and future technologies. We are open to all kinds of art work: from painting to conceptual. Please reference the technology in the proposal when you submit.


If sex robots are the future of sex work, what happens to current sex workers? Who will these sex robots marginalize?

We, R——D——J, have designed two marketing campaign posters that critique not only the current style of public health initiatives, but also the belief that humaniod robots would be an overwhelming benefit to people.

We, R——D——J, are using the language of public health propaganda posters and sex trafficking awareness campaigns to reveal the problematic nature of these types of campaigns and of presenting the robot as a solution to human suffering.

The poster on the left is "pro-sex robot"; the right "anti-sex robot".

With these posters, R——D——J portrays the frequent ignorance of humaniod robot speculation.

On Sex, Gender, and Robots

For our research project, R, D, and J decided to create posters in the style of post-WWII public health posters.

Despite being for the "public health", these posters are terribly misogynistic and exclusively directed towards men. The tradition of offensive public health propaganda posters continues; example former Mayor Bloomberg's sex ed campaign. Designed to discourage teenaged girls from becoming pregnant, the campaign's racism and misogyny is just as absurd as the post-war posters but with less style:

Both sets refuse to address the societal structures that create and perpetuate these situations. They also serve as a reflection of how our society places an unequal burden on cis-women to be responsible for sex. As well, we referred to the recent revelation that sex trafficking activist Somaly Mam fabricated much of her life story and how this fraud was used to shape the initiatives that ultimately harmed many sex workers in the name of saving them.

Keeping the theme of Sex, Robots, and Gender in mind, our research led us to speculate on how sex robots would be marketed and positioned within the framework of public health. Many theorists posit that sex cyborgs and sex robots would essentially eliminate the need for women to go into sex work.

Much of the research we discovered describe sex robots as a "solution" for companionship and sex work, tools that would allow unfortunate men to pay for sex without abusing women. The presentation of a robot as a solution to human suffering is problematic. Also, the presumption that sex robots would prevent women from being sex workers reveals a deep ignorance about the choices available to women.

We created a call from the Insitute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies to highlight the unintended negative consequences of a seemingly positive development.


Arkin, R. (2007, Winter). Robot Ethics. Georgia Tech Research News, 14-15.

Dvorsky, G., & Hughes, J. (2008). Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary. IEET Monograph Series, 3.

Gira Grant, M. (2014, May 29). The Price of a Sex-Slave Rescue Fantasy. New York Times. Retrieve October 20, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/opinion/the-price-of-a-sex-slave-rescue-fantasy.html

Harraway, D. (2001). A Cyborg Manifesto. In The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge.

Harris, M. (n.d.). 50 Vintage STD Propaganda Posters. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from http://www.medicalbillingschool.org/blog/50-vintage-std-propaganda-posters/

International Labor Office. ILO Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. 2008 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ednorm/@declaration/documents/publication/wcms090356.pdf

MARANTZ HENIG, R. (2007, December 2). Robo Love. New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/books/review/Henig-t.html?_r=1&

Siino, R., & Hinds, P. (n.d.). Robots, Gender & Sensemaking: Sex Segregation’s Impact On Workers Making Sense Of a Mobile Autonomous Robot. Management Science & Engineering Stanford University.

Direct links to posts related to project are below


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