The sexbot industry should include older adults with disabilities in the design and marketing of its products, to support their emotional health and wellbeing and help counter ageism and stereotyping, argues an ethicist in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Dr Nancy Jecker of the University of Washington, Seattle, US, writes that the physical and physiological changes of ageing can interfere with sexual activity, but they don’t eliminate older adults’ sexual feelings or desires.
She cites a 2007 study of older US adults which showed that more than half (53%) of 65-74-year-olds were sexually active, as were more than a quarter (26%) of 75-85-year-olds.
Sexual desires are fundamental to a sense of what it is to be human to which everyone is entitled, she says, adding that expression is integral to human dignity and respect.
“Just as service robots are being designed to assist older individuals with functions such as eating, dressing and bathing, they might be designed to assist with social functions, serving as sources of affiliation and sexual partnership,” she suggests. “With assistance, older adults can continue to be sexual in ways they value.”