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Is sex with robots legal if they aren't turned on?

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Robots, robots everywhere. That's the way of the future, according to US legislators. And American robotics-policy issues need a damn good probing.

Congressmen Mike Doyle (Democrat, Pennsylvania) and the superbly-named Congressman Zach Wamp (Republican, Tennessee) announced the formation of a cross-party Congressional Robotics Caucus on Wednesday.

"Today, [robots are] being used [for a whole lot of stuff]," said Doyle.

"It is important that...Congress familiarize itself with... this first great technology of the 21st century."

"[Blah blah blah] robotics is astounding," added Wamp.

"Bill Gates [sez] the robotics industry is [like] the computer business 30 years ago...[Having a think] now will enable Congress to get a better grasp... and help ensure that the United States can maintain global dominance leadership..."

(What the Congressmen really said can be read here, but trust us, our version is better and much shorter.)

A preliminary list of robotopics which will be furrowing the brows of Washington politicos from September is actually fist-gnawingly dull, but fortunately not yet final. It might also include, we submit, some of the burning droid-related issues of the day, such as:

1) Should military kill-bots be allowed to attack humans without permission?

2) If not, is it OK if the robot is actually controlled by a live human brain (or severed head) in a jar? Should the source of the brain tissue be of concern (eg, harvested from condemned homicidal maniac versus retrieved from slain hero cop)?

3) Noted robotics boffin Henrik Christensen, of the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) and now at Georgia Tech, said a year ago that "people are going to be having sex with robots within five years". Presumably that's within four years now. Is that OK? If it is, does the robot have to, um, automatically submit to the filthy lusts of its human overlord, or can it say no? Does it matter if the robot is turned on at the time?

4) And so on.

Robota. "A non-threatening robot."

As an aside, EURON's Robot of the Week is "Robota...a family of mini humanoid robots...which can engage in complex interaction with humans... Robota uses the imitation game to help autistic children learn to interact with a non-threatening robot." Then they have this pic:

For goodness sake, Doyle and Wamp. Get with the program, so to speak. This one could be a real biggy. In four years' time, you could be as famous as Sarbanes and Oxley. People purchasing their vibrating pleasure droids could be looking for the "fully Wamp-Doyle compliant*" sticker, if this thing gets handled properly.

Throw us a bone, here. Etc. ®

*Always a good word to read on a pleasure robot's packaging, we submit.

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