Australian cybersecurity expert Nick Patterson created quite a stir when he told the Daily Star hackers could theoretically hijack high-tech sex dolls and use them to kill people.  “Once a robot is hacked, the hacker has full control and can issue instructions to the robot,” Patterson told The Daily Star. Despite the tabloid hype, Patterson wasn’t actually predicting a future with killer sex robots. Patterson later told Men’s Health the tabloids sensationalized his broader observation about artificial intelligence: AI-powered robots are still machines. They can get hacked just like any other computer connected to the internet. Regardless, there’s no need to fear sex tech.

For starters, the most sophisticated sex dolls on the market still can’t move on their own.

“The worst thing she can possibly do to you is insult you,” Realbotix CEO Matt McMullen, a high-tech sex toy inventor who heads a subsidiary of the Abyss Creations doll factory, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. His AI-enhanced sex doll, Harmony, can’t move its arms or legs independently. Most of the doll’s high-tech gizmos are for dynamic conversation. Yet although Harmony costs $10,000, even its advanced AI technology is a far cry from autonomous robots in sci-fi series like Westworld.

Patterson was talking about a future scenario with more advanced robotics. Assuming sex dolls will someday move on their own, it’s easy to imagine such androids being treated more like sex workers than inanimate toys. A sex doll brothel opened earlier this year in Barcelona, charging around $144 for a private encounter with Lumi Dolls, which lack built-in chatbots.

Meanwhile, the Chinese company Touch experimented with a short-lived sex doll rental service, which operated more like an escort service than a sex product subscription box. The BBC reported clients could request specific dolls, including a Wonder Woman figurine with a sword and shield. However, the service was quickly shut down by Chinese authorities. It’s a safe to assume future regulators would take a similarly critical look at potential safety hazards. Even today’s strip clubs and legal brothels hire security guards.

Even before AI and robotics were thrown into the mix, sex toys have historically inspired fear, thanks in part to social stigmas surrounding masturbation. Sexologist Jill McDevitt theorized this anxiety is part of the reason vibrators are often molded in cartoonish animal shapes. “[It] says a lot about how sex toys are still seen as ‘threatening’ and how far we have to go to normalize masturbation for women,” McDevitt told Motherboard. All things considered, high-tech sex dolls certainly aren’t dangerous now and they probably won’t be any time soon.

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