Press release:

Ethics Professor to Discuss Sex-Robots at Cal Poly on March 4
Are there limits in exploiting human psychology? Can we find love in machines?

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—February 7, 2011—The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly today announced the next talk in its Technology, Policy & Ethics Lecture Series. Dr. John P. Sullins, ethics professor at Sonoma State University, will deliver an invited lecture entitled “Robots & Sex: Should We Build a Love Machine?” on Friday, March 4, 2:00-3:30p in Building 33-286 (Fisher Science Hall) at Cal Poly.

Robots are playing greater roles in society, from babysitting children to bombing suspected terrorists. And given that the sex industry is often an early adopter of technology, it’s not surprising to see work in developing robots for intimate companionship. For instance, in his infamous book Love + Sex With Robots, David Levy argues that human love and sex can be engineered into a robot, and not only would these machines be psychologically pleasing, but their users might even prefer them to human partners.

In his talk at Cal Poly, Dr. Sullins will discuss how roboticists and engineers are manipulating human emotions in inventive ways, especially our psychological tendency to anthropomorphize objects. But are there moral limits in exploiting human psychology? And is there something more to love than simply satisfying physical desire?

Dr. Sullins is an associate professor at Sonoma State University where he has taught for six years. He received his PhD in 2002 from the Philosophy, Computers, and Cognitive Science program at Binghamton University in New York. His current research and publications involve the study of computer ethics, malware ethics, and the ethical impacts of personal robotics technology on our lives.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Based at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group is a non-partisan research and educational organization focused on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of emerging technologies. Current projects and interests are related to issues in robotics, human enhancement, nanotechnology, space development, geoengineering, and other areas. Please visit us at or


Patrick Lin, Ph.D., Director
palin [at]

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