“Sex robot ARMIES: Fears hackers could create killer cyborgs and turn technology on punters,” the Star‘s headline reads. “ULTRA-REALISTIC sex robots could be used by warped hackers to attack humans, according to a chilling warning.”
The gist of the story, essentially, was that a hacker with full access to a human-sized, human-weight device could give it commands to physically harm whoever is, uh, *interacting* with it. Many sex robots have moveable parts, but because they’re mostly designed to be soft and flexible, they’re probably not going to be a hacker’s first choice to go full terminator.
There are a lot of issues with sex robots, which Men’s Health previously explored when we discussed the ethical implications of the sex robot debate. But the thing is, Patterson didn’t say anything about sex robots being dangerous at all. In fact, Patterson’s quotes to the Star, which subsequently spread like wildfire through Australian, British, and then U.S. tabloids like the New York Post, don’t even appear to discuss sex robots specifically at all, something that Patterson explicitly confirmed to Men’s Health.
“I led the interview in terms of all kinds of robots, industrial, consumer etc. The media ran with the click bait,” Patterson told Men’s Health in an email. What he actually told the Star was that “hackers can hack into a robot or a robotic device and have full control of the connections, arms, legs and other attached tools like in some cases knives or welding devices. Often these robots can be upwards of 200 pounds, and very strong. Once a robot is hacked, the hacker has full control and can issue instructions to the robot.”
While sexbots are often heavy, they’re rarely over 200 pounds heavy – that would make them pretty damn impractical to pick up, maneuver, and position. RealDoll, one of the most popular brands, advertises dolls and robots that weigh around 75 pounds (that link is NSFW, if shopping for sex toys during office hours is frowned upon at your workplace). Clearly, Patterson was referring to industrial robots or other machines, not necessarily sex robots.
While, sure, sex robot hacking will probably become a concern at some point in the future, if a cybercriminal wants to inflict real harm, a glorified Fleshlight probably isn’t where they’ll start. In 2015, a team of car-hackers proved they could remotely kill a Jeep with a digital command, and as more and more cars add wireless and LTE connectivity, companies and government investigators are starting to pay more attention.
So no, if you do end up shelling out the cash to buy a sex robot of your very own, it probably isn’t going to kill you. But at nearly $10,000 for a basic model, you might want to consider whether it’s a worthwhile investment in the first place.