College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

Uncanny valleys: sex, power, & the artificial person

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree



artificial intelligence, science fiction, subjectivity, interiority, sex robots


This paper explores the impact of the creation of hyper-realistic animatronic sex rolls on the way in which the almost exclusively male customers view women’s autonomy. Through an examination of contemporary robotics theory as well as profiles on prospective clients for such dolls, the author outlines the highly gendered power dynamics inherent in their construction, marketing, and sale. Furthermore, this research utilizes three separate speculative fiction narratives to extrapolate out the social impact of the normalization of these dolls’ use. Through both the ethical theory and literary analysis, this paper concludes that the ethical implications of the sex robot is contingent upon its perceived personhood – a status which hinges on their ability to exhibit interiority and subjectivity.