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Okay, Robot Sex Week…
Yesterday we dealt with the prospects for robot love — today we´re sticking entirely to sex.
This series is officially known as Sex, Intimacy, and Artificial Humans, but in honour of today´s purely prurient topic we´re shamelessly going with its informal name: Robot Sex Week.
J.G. Ballard once said Sex times technology equals the future. Was he right?
Will we start copulating with our machines? Let me ask it the other way around: is there any reason to think that we won´t?
No, if the history of technology is any indication.
Note: A special thanks to the reader who wrote me to point out that many women are already having sex with robots — I still am not sure if she was referring to vibrators or unsatisfying partners. And on that note, my apologies to any staight female or gay male readers. Fembots dominate the images available, and I´m under time constraints today, so no Boybot booty in this post — in my defence, though, the first post in this series featured a distinctly male artificial sex partner.
It´s become almost a cliche to note that each new communications technology that develops is able to make the jump from the beta test stage to something commercially viable by channeling pornography. I´m going to adjust that notion in a moment, but first let´s look at it.
The Independent newspaper has a nifty little slideshow that traces some elements of this trend. It covers the Super 8 projector, the Polaroid camera, the VCR, the DVD player, the internet, VOIP (voice over internet protocol), and pay-per-view.
The Guardian agrees with The Independent:
As one senior industry figure put it: ‘For years it has been a dirty secret that one of the key drivers of new consumer technology is sex, pornography. The need to make 3G technology work – and work fast – is exposing that secret.’
Canadian journalist Patchen Barss, who wrote the book The Erotic Engine: How Pornography has Powered Mass Communication, from Gutenberg to Google cites ten technologies that were built on porn: e-commerce, streaming video, webcams, high bandwidth, BBSs, subtitles and closed captioning, microfiche, digital cameras, cable television, and the VCR.
To take the example of the internet, according to the tech news site The Goldstein Report, one porn site alone, Xvideos, gets `4.4 billion page views per month. That’s about 10 times as many as the New York Times and three times as many as CNN.com,´ while New Technology News claims that Porn Accounts For One-Third Of Global Web Traffic.
In 2010 NPR reported that porn providers were looking to cash in on the iPhone 4´s then-new FaceTime feature pretty much the moment it became available.
So what´s my quibble with the formulation of the rule and why is it relevant to robot sex?
- First, the phenomenon is usually cited as involving communications technology, but I´d suggest that any technology that can deliver any facsimile of sex will follow the trend.
- Second, the driving factor is sexual desire, not specifically a desire for pornography, so — putting aside for the moment the fact that some people may consider sex with an artificial person inherently pornographic — my argument is that the trend isn´t limited to porn.
So overall my hypothesis is that as robots become capable of delivering sexual thrills, we will accept those thrills gratefully — maybe even greedily — the way we have with each of the preceding technologies.
And of course, as with any technology, there are the early adopters, in this case robot fetishists — see the video from Discovery embedded below.
Fetishits may constitute a minority community, but my bet is that as our robots become more capable and less artificial, the sexual majority will adopt their practices, not as a fetish, but simply as one more sexual outlet.
I´ll happily hear from those who agree or disagree — you can always email me at email@example.com.
Tomorrow: Day 4 of Robot Sex Week — Don´t Miss It!