Robotics experts are divided on robot child sex dolls: Some are encouraging the use of robot sex as a method for preventing sex crimes while others are calling for a full ban on robots that look like children. Harumi

Robotics experts and social researchers are divided on robotic sex dolls: Some are encouraging the use of robot sex as a method for preventing sex crimes while others are calling for a full ban on robots that look like children.

The authors of a new report delving into the industry of robot sex dolls, “Our Sexual Future With Robots,” says policymakers and society as a whole need to embrace the fact that humans and sex robots will soon be a wide-scale phenomenon. The report also peers into some of the murkier sub-groups of robot sex including robots being used as “prostitutes” in brothels and sex dolls being used as a sexual therapy practice for rapists and pedophiles.

Report co-author Professor Noel Sharkey stressed that child sex dolls should be curbed by lawmakers, including a ban on importing sex robots designed to look like human children.

Read: Sex Robots: Are They A Threat To Prostitutes? A New Study Says Yes

"We do need policymakers to look at it and the general public to decide what is acceptable and permissible," Sharkey, co-author of the paper and co-director of Responsible Robotics, told CNBC. "We need to think as a society what we want to do about it. I don't know the answers - I am just asking the questions."

Among the handful of companies that make sex robots – Harumi, Sex Bot, True Companion, Lumidolls and True Companion – many have started designing increasingly life-like sex robots. They feature soft silicone skin, move their eyes and head and some are even starting to speak through a tablet-enabled app. The report notes that rapidly improving artificial intelligence coupled with sensors and voice commands has created robots that are so lifelike that people have formed emotional relationships with the robots.

Sex Doll Debate: Do They Prevent Rape Or Pedophilia?

The report cautions that sex robots are not likely to prevent sex crimes including rape and pedophilia, noting that they may actually “reinforce illicit sexual practices.” The paper says there is major disagreement on robots’ role in the prevention of sex-based crimes.

“On one side there are those who believe that expressing disordered or criminal sexual desires with a sex robot would satiate them to the point where they would not have the desire to harm fellow humans," reads the report.

The founder of Trottla, a company that produces child sex dolls, has touted that robots designed to look like children will help prevent people from abusing real-life children.

"I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It's not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire," Shin Takagi told The Atlantic in 2016.

The paper continues: "Many others believe that this would be an indulgence that could encourage and reinforce illicit sexual practices. This may work for a few but it is a very dangerous path to tread. It may be that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with sex robots could have a pernicious effect on society and societal norms and create more danger for the vulnerable."

A Canadian court is currently debating whether just owning a sex doll that resembles a child should be illegal. Earlier this year, a Newfoundland resident ordered a sex doll from a Japanese company called Harumi Designs. Because the company is on a Canadian watch-list, the sex doll was intercepted at the airport and Kenneth Harrison was charged with possessing child pornography but plead not guilty and provoked a national debate over robot sex's legality.

The paper also analyzed several parallel SexTech trends, including the emergence of AI in dildos and the “Hum vibrator” that actively analyzes one’s body reactions and orgasm intensity. “This is the beginning of merging dildonics with robotics,” the report adds.

But Dr. Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in the U.K., tells the BBC that the larger issues are robot use in the commercial sex trade as well as a dramatic “increase in social isolation.” Europe’s first robot brothel opened in Barcelona, Spain in March, but opposition from human sex workers forced the Lumidolls owners to move. Dozens of robot sex brothels are open in Asia, according to a BBC report.

"We have found no indications that robots will end prostitution or sex trafficking in our investigation or in the surveys. It seems unlikely given what sex workers say about the needs of their clients for human character and intimacy. Many clients still want the pretense of a relationship," write the report authors.

Sharkey said sex doll customers and sex doll manufacturers aren’t seeing eye to eye on the reality and effects of owning a sex doll.

"The manufacturers of sex robots want to create an experience as close to a human sexual encounter as possible," said Sharkey. "But robots cannot feel love, tenderness or form emotional bonds. The best that robots can do is to fake it."