Aespa virtual members raise robot sexualisation concerns

Occurred: June 2021

News that Korean K-pop band Aespa would include virtual members in its line-up prompted concerns about the dehumanisation and sexualisation of humanoid robots.

Korean entertainment company SM Entertainment announced that Aespa, its latest K-pop girl group would include human and virtual members that would be able to 'interact and communicate as independent beings as they have AI brains'. 

The announcement was met with a mixture of intigue and excitement, tempered by concerns about the 'ownership' of young girls by fans and the potential for their dehumanisation and sexualisation. 

Others raised the possibility of Aespa avatars being manipulated for pornography and other unethical uses. 

Operator: SM Entertainment
Developer: SM Entertainment
Country: S Korea  
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Create virtual avatars
Technology: Deepfake - image, video
Issue: Anthropomorphism; Dual/multi-use; Safety