Next Monday, April 24, at 10am, FRC member Carlotta Rigotti will publicly defend her PhD titled "Rethinking gender and sexuality in the robotic era: A proposal for the legitimate regulation of sex robotics."
The defence will take place at VUB in aula D.2.01, but can also be followed online.
This PhD thesis seeks to define a proposal for the legitimate regulation of sex robotics. It is divided into three parts, which respectively theorise, comparatively validate, and formulate our proposition.
Part I critically assesses the legitimacy of the said claims for a general and pre-emptive prohibition on women-like sex robots. The PhD thesis looks at the harm principle, legal moralism, and the ultima ratio principle in order to guide the discussion. The adoption of criminal law measures, in fact, should be seen and treated with caution because they have a detrimental impact on the well-being of the individual, by restricting their personal liberty and causing social stigmatisation. Ultimately, we argue that the prima facie theorisation of a proposal for the legitimate regulation of women-like sex robotics should involve the maintenance of criminal law to a minimum and the simultaneous adoption of alternative and/or ancillary measures tackling the root causes of the social subordination of women.
In Part II, we validate the prima facie theorisation of our proposal for a legitimate regulation of women-like sex robotics, by positioning it within the broad analysis of how the regulation of gender and sexuality has already played out in practice. To this end, we examine and draw some lessons from prostitution and pornography laws because they have likewise sought to strike a balance between the social subordination of women and the respect for the sexual autonomy of the individual. This comparative analysis confirms that the criminalisation of women-like sex robotics should be kept to a minimum and should be integrated with alternative and/or ancillary measures. Also, it allows to make some constructive suggestions on how to put this proposal for a legitimate regulation of sex robotics into practice. First, the scope of criminal law should be limited to the sexual abuse of a sex robot. Second, the alternative and/or ancillary measures to the manufacture, sale, and use of sex robotics should address the present, stereotypical design, by adopting a participatory and rights-based approach. Overall, gender-neutral legislation should be favoured.
Part III formulates the final proposal for the legitimate regulation of sex robotics. More precisely, we keep criminal law to a minimum, by introducing a criminal offence that only targets the sexual abuse of the sex robots (i.e., intentional engagement in non-consensual sex with a sex robot) and is formulated in a gender-neutral way. Additionally, because the deceptive and stereotypical design of sex robotics could still contribute to the social subordination of women, we suggest some alternative and/or ancillary measures to criminalisation in synergy with the upcoming regulation of AI systems in Europe, as well as diversity and fluidity in gender and sexuality.