Quick Edit: First draft was a little on the harsh side. I don’t know John Aziz or his work. That said, I still hold the linked article is not very well written.
Over at The Week writer John Aziz discusses (poorly) the emerging field of teledildonics. For those without their finger (or whatever) on the pulse of sex-tech, teledildonics is what Geordie LaForge might call web enabled sex toys, designed for use by individuals on opposite sides of an internet connection — which could be in the other room or in orbit.
It’s easy to condemn such things as weird or bizarre.
And I’d say that’s for good reason: Hooking up via vibrating plastic accessories attached to an internet-connected computer is clearly not the most obvious way for two people to be intimate. It is rather like a Rube Goldberg machine: an extremely complicated solution to a simple problem. Why go to such trouble to create virtual sexual experiences when real-world sex is possible without all the technology getting in the way?
In addition to being insulting, the above is obtuse. Why go through the trouble? Perhaps because a spouse or lover is separated by geographical distance. Perhaps because that lover has a medical condition that prohibits intimate interpersonal contact. or, perhaps, because it is fun to do something a little different — you know, some of the same sorts of reasons people include non-tele-dildonics in their love lives.
Aziz notes the importance of “porn” in advancing technology (though he fails to qualify that as “consumer technology” which is a relatively important distinction) but then steps over the line to suggest its inevitable powerful impact on robotics. Futuristic sex robots are not likely to push the technology in the same ways as video buffering, however. The adult industry as refined technology and applied it to consumers in new ways, but high end R&D is outside that industry’s purview. Sex robots won’t arise from the adult industry, but may well overtake it when lifelike androids become standard in our culture (which may never come to pass, of course).
Ultimately, sex with robots arises from the same place of desire as does sex with prostitutes: it promises (however unrealistically) to be both novel and to fulfilling in a way that sex with a partner (as in an equal) cannot be because partnership demands both familiarity and equitibility of pleasure. Sexbots would, one assumes, be whatever the user desired and also do whatever the user desired — like picking a girl up out of the lineup of the Bunny Ranch but with none of the human (or legal) restrictions).
More likely than the emergence anytime soon of the sexbot will be the integration of teledildonics into the adult industry. The convergence of cam girls and teledildonics seems not just inevitable, but natural. How it will be construed in regards to anti-prostitution laws is an open question and certainly one worth exploring. Include the ever-inching-forward technology of virtual reality and the future looks bright for both the long distance relationship and the virtual sex worker.