Artificial Intelligence: a cure or creepy?

When ‘artificial intelligence’ is mentioned to us, we immediately think of the year 3500, and human-like robots walking amongst us, talking and acting as we do, like in movies such as ‘I, Robot’. However, what a lot of us don’t realise is that in our daily lives we’re already using artificial intelligence.

Video games such as Call of Duty make significant use of AI, where characters can analyse their surroundings and use them in order to survive, to challenge us while we’re playing the game. Companies that use online customer support systems – which we all hate talking to – are employing AI in order to do this, as well as Apple who use automation so we can have ‘Siri’ on our iPhones.

“The fact that humans are a very smart species does not always mean we are a morally correct one.”

As humans, we are fixated on improving life wherever possible; we’re naturally a lazy, yet intelligent, species who use our advanced brains to make life as easy as possible for ourselves. However nice and convenient the idea of ‘smart home devices’ and ‘cleaning robots’ sound, where will we draw the line? Is it reaching a point where it’s no longer helpful and harmless, allowing us to avoid doing household chores or Googling something, and is becoming unethical?

In the last 100 years, our planet and species have seen the most dramatic advances in technology in all of human history, not all of which everyone agrees with. The fact that humans are a very smart species does not always mean we are a morally correct one. We have used technology for all kinds of unprincipled things – even using our own intelligence to kill each other in wars. Artificial intelligence has recently been used in a way that a lot of people definitely do not agree with: in the form of child sex dolls.

As if adult sex dolls were not creepy enough, these juvenile equivalents have the anatomical weight and appearance of a human child, and can be bought from eBay and Amazon for prices of £500-£1000. The manufacturing takes place in China, and although it is illegal in the UK to import one, it is not actually illegal to own one.

“It is suggested that the dolls be used alongside talking therapy, mentoring and supervision so that the individual may remain law abiding”

Ever since discovering the surge in popularity amongst people with a sexual attraction to children, a number of psychiatrists, as well as Welsh charity StopSO (Special Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending), have expressed an interest in thaedope dolls. These experts have proposed offering them to paedophiles in a controlled environment, in the hope that it will potentially decrease attacks on actual children.

StopSO have suggested that they be prescribed for free on the NHS, although there is still a long way to go before such a controversial form of therapy is available. However, the idea got a lot of attention and media coverage in August and September this year, and some people have supported it.

In addition, the charity claims that, similar to a mental illness, attraction to minors can be caused by being born with a predisposition towards it (potentially down to genetics), suffering childhood trauma or brain injury. It is suggested that the dolls be used alongside talking therapy, mentoring and supervision so that the individual may remain law abiding and therefore able to live in society as normal.

Unsurprisingly, the idea has caused a lot of controversy and it is a concept many people find obscene. It has been argued that the prescription of these dolls will not suppress these pedophilic urges, but encourage inappropriate thoughts, leading to more real life attacks as opposed to less. The automated toys would begin to normalise sexual behaviour towards minors and make individuals think it is acceptable as, in a way, the NHS would be supporting sex offence.

In other words, they would become desensitised to their own immoral behaviour, seeing as it now would be met with understanding as opposed to severe punishment. As it stands, no action has been taken on the matter as many people are strongly against the notion. The NSPCC and the National Crime Agency are looking to get the dolls completely criminalised.

So perhaps we won’t have to wait until the year 3500 to see technology take a strange turn. Or maybe, in this case, artificial intelligence is not the answer.

Anna Kalganova

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Featured image courtesy of Benan via flickr. License here.


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