Sexbots
Malaysia has cancelled an academic conference on 'Love and Sex with Robots'.iStockphoto.com/Mikhail Tolstoy

The second annual Love and Sex with Robots conference has been cancelled by Malaysian police, who branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". The event was intended to be a focus for academics from around the world to discuss the legal, ethical and moral questions on everything from "teledildonics" to "humanoids". Also on the agenda were robot emotions, entertainment robots and intelligent electronic sex hardware.

The event was supposed to be held on 16 November in Iskandar, in the state of Johor, but was cancelled during a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 October. Police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the event was "ridiculous", adding there is "nothing scientific about having sex with machines. It is not our culture. We can take action against the organiser if they choose to hold the event".

A statement on event organiser's website, loveandsexwithrobots.org, said the event was called off due to "circumstances beyond our control." The Second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots will be postponed until 2016", it reads. "The conference will definitely not be held anywhere in Malaysia. We deeply apologise to any person or any authority which have felt offence in any way.

"To our delegates, we look forward to seeing you again next year for the Second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots. Please stay tuned for next year's location."

Around 40 academics presented their research during the first conference, which was held in Portugal last year. The event's co-founder, Professor Adrian David Cheok, who teaches Pervasive Computing at London's City University, has been refining a device called a Kissinger, a "set of pressure-sensitive artificial lips that can transmit a kiss from a real mouth to a similar device owned by a partner who might be many miles away".

Another sexbot advocate is international chess master, businessman and Artificial Intelligence expert David Levy, who published the book "Love And Sex And Robots" in 2007 and was due to chair the second international congress on Love and Sex with Robots alongside Prof Cheok.

Levy said he is "absolutely convinced" sex with robots is a positive thing for people who do not have satisfactory relationships. "For whatever reason there are huge numbers of people who just don't have a relationship with someone they can love and someone who can love them", he said. "For people like that, I think that sex robots will be a real boon. It will get rid of a problem they've got, fill a big void in their lives and make them much happier."

Earlier this month, futurologist Dr Ian Pearson released a study on the future of the sex industry. According to his report, virtual sex and copulating with robots will be popular among high-income households by 2030. "The sex market in 20 years could be three times bigger than today and seven times bigger by 2050," he said.