“Man as an end in himself” – the Libertine, the culture of sadism, porn and sex robots – keynote lecture

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This lecture was presented as a keynote lecture at the Third International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots, London 19th December 2017.

 

Since the time of slave-owning societies, a powerful misogynistic myth has led men to believe they originate and can exist outside of relations with woman. This myth is perpetuated in the Judaea-Christian-Islamic traditions of the monotheist God, who created the universe and man with no female participation. In these myths, Eve was born of Adam’s rib.

Enter the age of robots and AI, where mortal men reenact the fantasy of God and appoint themselves as the creators of a new life force. Through the fantasy of sex robots in the form of women, they believe that can exist without woman, and that her existence is incidental to his.

This egocentric misogynistic myth is reproduced over and over again, in the Enlightenment as the Libertine, the symbol of the free individual who inspired the cult of pornographic sadism. This patriarchial myth was turned again in the 20th century by Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism”.  Rand attacked the concept and practice of altruism and interdependence with others. Rand’s theory of objectivism proposed that “man is an end in himself,” that his own happiness is, can, and must be met regardless of others.

Sex robots offer men a new way to engage in the fantasy of female annihilation and imagine they can use robots and AI to turn men into ends in themselves. But this myth is born from a distortion of the Real and if left unchallenged will result in the end of humanity.

Short Bio: Kathleen Richardson is Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University, Leicester. She is also founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.