The Future of Sex16 May 2016
Sex – the essential reproductive process which ensures the survival of our species or, as you may be more familiar with, that interpolating technique they use in beer commercials. Ever since we all sprouted our first pubic hair and “accidentally” stumbled onto some “freakishly tall Swedish ginger” porn, sex has been a continuing presence in our lives. But as technology becomes increasingly prevalent, will the lustful desire for human contact be usurped by automated machinery? Will our future sexual partners be freakishly tall Swedish ginger robots?
Dr David Levy, author of Love and Sex with Robots, believes that sex robots will be widely used by 2050 as an alternative to human sexual partners. German, Canadian and Japanese firms have already developed prototypes, some of which breathe, are warm, have fluctuating heart beats, flutter their eyelids and move their hands. Dr Levy believes sexbots will soon be nearly indistinguishable from humans, with one key difference – they’ll never disappoint.
The advantage of a sexbot is that it consistently delivers climaxes, estimated to be twice as pleasurable as the standard human-induced orgasm. Their automated movements will be programmable, which will mean that people can ensure they have the exact sexual experience they want. Furthermore, sexbots could be made to look like whomever you like. Kanye West might finally achieve his dream of literally making love to himself.
In an article for Humanity+Media, author Hank Hyena, who appears to froth a solid robo-fuck, describes in icky detail the supreme sexual skills which robots will possess. “Sexbots will heighten our ecstasy until we have frothy, shrieking, bug-eyed, amnesia-inducing orgasms,” he says. “They’ll offer us split-tongued cunnilingus, open-throat fellatio, deliriously gentle kissing, transcendent nipple tweaking, g-spot massage & prostate milking dexterity, plus 2,000 varieties of coital rhythm with scented lubes…”
The clear target audience of sexbots are predominantly young, sexually adventurous single people who masturbate regularly. They could also be of use to elderly or isolated singles who have been excluded from the dating scene. However, the extent to which they achieve mainstream market penetration (excuse the pun) remains to be seen.
The obvious issue with this technological march is the complete lack of human intimacy, emotional connection and, indeed, restraint involved. Programmable intercourse will reduce sexual spontaneity, diminishing uncontrolled passion to a formulaic pattern based on lines of computer code. The transactional nature of technological sex, where sex is not negotiated between two individuals but is extracted from a completely subservient machine, may give rise to a culture of sexual objectification, particularly since many people’s primary sexual partners may in fact be objects.
You don’t not need to be a conservative, fun-hating “leave space for Jesus” type to have reservations about such technological “advancements.” For mine, if some do in fact replace human sexual partners with robotic ones, they will be too severely abstracting themselves from human interaction.
Certainly, there is something about human interaction, sexual or otherwise, which robots cannot replicate. But is interaction with other humans really what we want in sex? Hungarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz who has researched masturbation suggests that most sexual experiences that humans have are masturbatory. According to the US National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour in 2010, 82 per cent of males and 62 per cent of females aged 18-24 masturbated at least once a year.
Matching this trend, the amount of online porn consumed continues to dramatically increase and will clearly be a continuing part of our sexual future. The web’s most popular porn site Pornhub.com received 21.2 billion visits in 2015 – that is approximately 12 videos viewed per person on earth.
Porn is only getting more and more realistic (in a viewing sense, not a storyline sense of course), drawing questions about whether real sex may become redundant for some. Pornhub.com has recently partnered with BaDoinkVR (yes, that really is the company name) to release a free virtual reality porn channel, allowing creepy voyeurs to immerse themselves in 360-degrees of their favourite porn star’s plastic surgery enhanced privates. Investment bank Piper Jaffray suggests that adult virtual technology will be a $1 billion industry by 2025.
For those not enticed by the thought of robotic intercourse, scientific breakthroughs for human sex are on the horizon. Particularly, the male monopoly on Viagra will likely erode in years to come. Addyi, a female Viagra-equivalent, debuted on the US market last year, however sold poorly due to being very expensive. However, experts predict that as production improves, the price will drop and it will become more widely used.
Despite the changing sexual landscape, there is in fact remarkable continuity between generations regarding sexual behaviour. The average age to lose one’s virginity has hovered around 17 for decades, and the average amount of sexual partners in one’s lifetime has actually dropped from 11 in the 1980s to approximately 8 for today’s youth.
This surprising trend disproves the prevalent notion of a “hook-up culture” propagated by the mainstream media, and illustrates that, despite having approximately 50 million users worldwide, iPhone app Tinder is not having as profound a cultural effect as one may expect. In the future, we will still likely have sex with a similarly modest amount of people, albeit with more robots on the side.
So, as we go to bed curled up next to our freakishly tall Swedish ginger sexbots, we can take comfort that, for better or worse, the long-held tradition of rooting each other and suitable lifeless objects will continue for many years to come.