Delve into danger
PANEL // Does the arrival of sex robots mean moral panic, the end of intimacy or the next sex revolution?
Sex robots are suddenly here, realistic-looking human-sized dolls that can provide both simulated intimacy and real physical gratification. What does this mean for sex, and what does it mean for relationships? If robots can deliver sex without feelings and intimacy without commitment, what happens to relationships? Will sex robots make sex safer for everybody, and particularly for vulnerable people, by satisfying unmet demand? Will child-like robots or robots with a ‘resistance’ setting only normalise sexual predation and paedophilia?
Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution, Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, and Academic Lead of the Grand Challenges Program at UNSW Sydney. He studies sexual reproduction and how it shapes the behaviour, diet, lifespan and ageing of animals, including human animals. He has won prizes both for his research and his popular writing, including the Eureka Prize and, for his first book – Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World (2011, NewSouth Books), the 2012 Queensland Literary Prize for Science Writing. He is currently fascinated by how interactions between evolutionary history and contemporary economics and culture shape human lives, societies and ideological beliefs.
Dr Nikki Goldstein is an educator, media commentator and expert on the topics of love, sex, dating, romance and relationships. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling from Bond University, and a Doctorate of Human Sexuality from San Francisco’s esteemed Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Dr Nikki is the author of #singlebutdating, a contributing writer to publications including news.com.au and Body&Soul, and the host of Podcast One's Sex and Life. She appears regularly on television shows House of Wellness, Studio 10 and The Last Resort, and has been twice voted Australia’s Best Sex Educator.
Dr Xanthe Mallett is a senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Newcastle, as well as a TV presenter and social commentator (on all things crime-related). She has been involved in a number of true crime programs in Britain, Australia, and the US, and her criminological work often focusses on re-analysing evidence in cold cases – most notably the recent re-investigation of the disappearance of the three Beaumont children in Adelaide on Australia Day in 1966. Author of Mothers Who Murder: And infamous miscarriages of justice (Penguin Random House, 2014), her current interests include using DNA to identify persons of interest in police investigations and long-term unidentified deceased persons and the patterns of sexual predation against children, by both male and female perpetrators.