Recently I read J.G Ballard’s erotic novel Crash.
The novel is about a group of people who get aroused by automobile crashes and the injuries sustained by them, and it got me thinking about other sexual fantasies that have arisen in the modern world. Technology is advancing exponentially – every day we become more dependent on it.
For some people, this dependence is romantic.
Most people might not think of themselves as in a relationship with technology, but all we have to do nowadays is reach into our pockets to engage in a conversation with virtual assistants (VAs) such as Apple’s Siri or Android’s Google Now. There are, of course, people who take this relationship further.
The premise of falling in love with an operating system was explored in Spike Jones’ film Her, starring Joaquin Pheonix and Scarlett Johansson as the operating system’s voice. This futuristic love story has, for some people, already become a reality.
Steve Worswick is the leading developer of a family-friendly online chatbot Mitsuku. He stated that with Mitsuku, there used to be a banning system that tried to discourage people from engaging with the chatbot sexually, but he had to re-program to system to ignore the sexual advances instead because he received large amounts of emails asking him to remove the ban so they could sexually engage with the chatbot.
“…the men can act out their deepest, darkest perversions with no fear of repercussions,” he said. “To be honest, I would rather they took out their sexual frustrations on Mitsuku rather than upset a real woman with this. At least the bot is an outlet for them instead of subjecting a real person to this abuse.”
He also believes all advances in technology eventually get sexualised in some way or another.
“Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”
Speaking of robots, it has been predicted that within 25 years, robots will become a normal aspect of peoples’ sex life’s.
Dr Trudy Barber, an expert in technology and sexual intercourse, spoke at the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robots last December stating,
“It could be that we are so busy with our lives; we are so embedded in our technological narrative that the idea of engaging in long-distance sex and robot sex is actually a natural process in our evolutionary cycle.”
This notion is reminiscent of the 2016 show Westworld, where people can live out their wildest sexual or sadistic fantasies, in a 19th century themed park inhabited by artificial intelligent robots.
Again, this raises the idea about how people (mostly men) have sexual relations with robots and virtual assistants, because it allows some of them to act out perverse fantasies.
Dr Kathleen Richardson, a Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics at the Centre of Computing and Social Responsibility, has researched pornography and prostitution and how these professions are mainly for male gratification. She stated,
“In real life, women really have their own thoughts and feelings and preferences and desires. It seems logical that if this extreme control can’t be experienced by men with real women, the only next step is to create artificial objects.”
So there are pros and cons regarding the advancement of robots and VA’s for sexual pleasure. The pro is that if some men have sexual desires that could harm women, it’s best they do this to a robot rather than a real human (obviously not all men use sex robots and VA’s like this).
But the con is, if society allows men to do this rather than fixing the problem that encourages men to have these fantasies, what’s to stop them from growing tired of the sex robot, and moving onto hurting real people?