Sex Robots: Love in the Age of Machines


Maurizio Balistreri

trans. Steven Umbrello

ISBN 978-615-6405-40-1         Paperback, €37.00

ISBN 978-615-6405-39-5         Hardcover, €74.00

eISBN 978-615-6405-41-8        eBook, €37.00

For any unavailable copies on our website, please refer to our distributors: ISD LLC for North and South America and EUROSPAN for Europe and the rest of the world.



Foreword by John Danaher  Download PDF

Translator's Foreword


  The Inexorable Advance of Robots


  What’s so Bad About Having Sex with a Robot?

  What are sex robots?

  Is it moral to have sex with a robot?

  Can rape robots be a game?

  Sex robots and self-deception


  Sex Robots and Violence Against Women

  More sex robots, more violence against women?

  Sex robots designed not only for men

  Will sex robots make prostitution disappear?

  Sex robots as sexual assistants for those with disabilities?


  Loving a Robot?

  Can one be unfaithful to a sex robot?

  Loving a robot?

  Could robots become persons?




Data sheet

Maurizio Balistreri
Steven Umbrello
Trivent Transhumanism
Book series
Ethics and Robotics
Book series editor(s)
Steven Umbrello
Publication date
August, 2022
Page numbers

Specific References

The scientific and technological innovations that will take place over the next decade will transform our society in profound ways. Sex robots, or robots made for sex, are already becoming a reality as a substitute for human beings in bed: although current prototypes are relatively simple and crude, future technological capabilities will render sex robots capable of interacting with humans in more human-like ways. They will be able to recognize their partner, understand their state of mind, and learn their tastes and preferences.

Professor Maurizio Balistreri introduces us to the fascinating world of sex of the future by addressing all the ethical issues that the large-scale commercialization of sex robots will raise without taboos and judgements. What will become of love if all our sexual relationships are conducted with machines? What will happen to the world of paid sex and pornography? Will sex robots increase or decrease sexual violence? In addition to confronting the international debate on the moral acceptability of sex robots, this book examines the most recent studies on violent video games and pornography, questioning the widespread belief that playing violent games or witnessing violent representations corrupts people and makes them violent. Not only could sex robots be an essential tool for expressing and exploring our most forbidden sexual fantasies, but they could also be used to treat sex offenders and paedophiles. Sex Robots is a book that questions our prejudices towards sex robots with clarity and simplicity, helping us reason and reflect on a future that is already present, in the awareness that robots will change the world and our lives.

MAURIZIO BALISTRERI is Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy and Bioethics at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences and Member of the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Turin. He is Chair of the Turin Bioethics Lab and Editor of the Icaro book series (Fandango, Roma). His main research interests include bioethics, applied ethics, robot ethics and ethics of artificial intelligence. He has published on different topics of bioethics, applied ethics and moral philosophy. His latest books are Il Bambino migliore? Che cosa significa essere genitori responsabili al tempo del genome editing (Fandango, 2022), Superumani. Etica e potenziamento (Espress 2011; 2020); Sex robot. L’amore al tempo delle macchine (Fandango 2018; Malpaso 2021), Il futuro della riproduzione umana (Fandango 2016), La clonazione umana prima di Dolly (Mimesis 2015). He is co-author of Biotecnologie e organismi modificati. Scienza, etica e diritto (Il Mulino 2020).

The mere idea of sex robots elicits strong reactions that divide the room. Whether you are robo-sex curious or immediately repulsed by its very mention, one thing is certain: there is definitely something here that requires attention and informed analysis. And Maurizio Balistreri delivers. Going beyond the usual hype and hysteria, this book provides much-needed critical insight that challenges readers to reflect on their own expectations, values, and assumptions about sex, love, companionship, and robots. In doing so, Balistreri expertly moves the sex robot debate out of domain of moral outrage and into the realm of informed critical evaluation. It is vital that this book—originally published in Italian—is now available to the English-speaking world. 

David J. Gunkel, Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor (Department of Communication, Northern Illinois University - USA)

In our rapidly digitizing society, the question of how to deal with sex robots has become inevitable. By asking many pressing questions in a straightforward and open way, Maurizio Balistreri invites us to investigate virtually all possible connections between robotics and sexuality. Is it moral to have sex with a robot, and are there morally problematic aspects of robotic sex? What do sex robots imply for human sexuality, sexual violence, prostitution, sexual fantasies, and the relations between sex and love? Without forcing any answers on his readers, Balistreri shows the pressing character of these, sometimes inconvenient, questions, and the urgency to formulate answers to them if we want to deal responsibly with the impact of the digital revolution on the most intimate parts of our lives.

Peter-Paul Verbeek, Professor of Philosophy of Technology (University of Twente, Netherlands)

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