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Foundations of Erobotics (accepted for publication, in press) at the International Journal of Social Robotics
Abstract: Technology is giving rise to artificial erotic agents, which we call erobots (erôs + bot). Erobots, such as virtual or augmented partners, erotic chatbots, and sex robots, increasingly expose humans to the possibility of intimacy and sexuality with artificial agents. Their advent has sparked academic and public debates: some denounce their risks (e.g., promotion of harmful sociosexual norms), while others defend their potential benefits (e.g., health, education, and research applications). Yet, the scientific study of human-machine erotic interaction is limited; no comprehensive theoretical models have been proposed and the empirical literature remains scarce. The current research programs investigating erotic technologies tend to focus on the risks and benefits of erobots, rather than providing solutions to resolve the former and enhance the latter. Moreover, we feel that these programs underestimate how humans and machines unpredictably interact and co-evolve, as well as the influence of sociocultural processes on technological development and meaning attribution. To comprehensively explore human-machine erotic interaction and co-evolution, we argue that we need a new unified transdisciplinary field of research – grounded in sexuality and technology positive frameworks – focusing on human-erobot interaction and co-evolution as well as guiding the development of beneficial erotic machines. We call this field Erobotics. As a first contribution to this new discipline, this article defines Erobotics and its related concepts; proposes a model of human-erobot interaction and co-evolution; and suggests a path to design beneficial erotic machines that could mitigate risks and enhance human well-being.