Robot brothels could soon be accepted by society after research revealed people think that sex with machines is morally acceptable - as long as you're single.
The University of Helsinki found that respondents to a survey are less okay with those in committed relationships having sex with robots.
It comes as manufacturers in China are using artificial intelligence to create 'smart' sex dolls capable of holding basic conversation using an embedded chatbot.
Academic Mika Koverol surveyed hundreds of people on their moral code when it comes to sex and relationships and will present his findings at the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots in Montana.
He asked respondents in two separate studies to judge the moral character and actions of characters in a science fiction scenario, New Scientist reports.
The story's main protagonist varied between male or female and single or married and the narrative was set in the year 2035.
He or she visits a European city and decides to visit a brothel, at which one of two signs would appear above the door.
In one version, the sign read: 'You cannot tell out robots from real humans.' The other said: 'All our workers are real humans.'
The character pays for unspecified sexual services in both scenarios and respondents were then asked about their feelings on the scenario.
Overall, people condemned the married character who paid for sex most harshly and singletons less.
Respondents who had more sexual experience were more permissive on the idea of going to a brothel, whether or not it featured robots. Women tended to be harsher in their condemnation of characters than men were.
The study measured people's disgust levels with questionnaires on moral, sexual and germ-related disgust.
Respondents who scored highly on the germ disgust scale also tended to condemn the use of any paid sex worker - be they human or machine - but only when the character was married.
The study in Finland ran two surveys of 172 and 260 people. Tufts University researcher Thomas Arnold has also researched the topic and agrees that relationships seem to drive how people judge sex with robots.
'The more you start thinking about it as something that could compete against or interfere with your relationships, that seems to be what people morally object to,' he said.
His study found that respondents considered machine sex akin to using a sex toy.
Koverola's research did not define for participants what the robotic prostitutes would look like, leaving it open to their imagination as to whether they had human features.
Basic humanoid versions of sex robots are able to hold conversations, swivel their heads and present facial expressions.
A robot brothel was blocked from opening by Houston City Council in Texas but a similar facility is planned for California.
However the owners have raised only one per cent of the cash required with their crowd-funding campaign.
Source: The Daily Mail