Future of Sex http://futureofsex.net Latest insights into how human sexuality is changing Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:42:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 http://futureofsex.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-512px-FoS-favicon-32x32.jpg Future of Sex http://futureofsex.net 32 32 Brexit: An Uncertain Future for Sex Tech in Britain http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/brexit-an-uncertain-future-for-sex-tech-in-britain/ http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/brexit-an-uncertain-future-for-sex-tech-in-britain/#respond Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:36:30 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=9004 Could Brexit be the death knell for Britain’s burgeoning sex tech industry? Brexit has already caused divisions, debate, and unpredictable economic times for Britain and Europe. The historic and unprecedented result of the June 2016 referendum has plunged an entire continent into uncertainty . Much has been made of the impact that Britain’s planned exit […]

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Could Brexit be the death knell for Britain’s burgeoning sex tech industry?

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Brexit has already caused divisions, debate, and unpredictable economic times for Britain and Europe. The historic and unprecedented result of the June 2016 referendum has plunged an entire continent into uncertainty .

Much has been made of the impact that Britain’s planned exit from the European Union will have on big business, banking, the tech sector, and its fledgling startups. Inevitably, little attention has focused on how this unknown future will affect sex tech.

What hope is there for British startups and entrepreneurs from one of the most burgeoning and fragile industries in both the tech and adult sectors? What do some of the British sex tech markets leaders think of current events? How will they traverse the unpredictable waters of a post-European Union Britain?

Europe’s final countdown

“I am shocked and heartbroken,” says Adam Lewis, co-founder of Hot Octopuss, when asked for his opinion on the outcome of the referendum. “I personally can’t see what good can come of this decision from either a business or personal perspective.”

Despite Lewis’s personal and political reservations about the result, Brexit has actually been something of a boon for the Hot Octopuss business model. The majority of the company’s income comes from the United States and the strengthening of the pound has caused the value of Hot Octopuss to climb by more than 25%.

However, the company’s margins in Europe have been squeezed due to the weakening of the Euro to the US dollar.

“This loss is actually recouped when we transfer Euros to Pound Sterling to support our cash flow,” says Lewis. “In essence we are fortunate as the way we trade allows for a natural hedge.”

Darren Smith, founder of couple’s intimacy app Pillow Play, believes that the result of the Brexit referendum, and its subsequent fallout and bad feeling, flies in the face of the sex tech ethos.

While the industry, its people, and products seek to bring people together in fundamental ways, the referendum is having the opposite effect.

“I feel frustration that this is what we call ‘democracy’,” he opined. “…and sadness that as a nation our statement is that we don’t want to work with our neighbours.

“It goes against everything we’re so passionate about at Pillow Play—where we help strengthen relationships, albeit in the bedroom and not the boardroom.”

Soumyadip Rakshit, co-founder of MysteryVibe, fears that Britain’s position as a leader in the European startup scene is in dire straits in the early and confusing days of Brexit, but remains hopeful for his company’s future.

“Our approach will be to continue as planned and build a more outward looking company, more than ever before.”

Shaking the money maker

But for sex tech entrepreneurs and startups, being an outward looking, global company in the time of Brexit can be a double-edged sword. The tangled, complicated web that represents world trade and the global economy has yet to experience something as potentially tumultuous as a member state leaving the European Union.

The effects of Brexit on sex tech companies won’t simply affect those trading in and around the United Kingdom and Europe, but as far afield as the United States, China, and other major trading partners and markets.

The biggest question for the industry at this time in terms of how manufacturing and trade is dealt with is “what does leaving the European Union actually mean?”

For Lewis and Hot Octopuss, the most dramatic effects of Brexit may be felt as a result of Britain being allowed to remain in the single market, or whether they will be forced out.

“If we leave the single market then I believe this will have a negative impact for British sex tech startups.

“We import into the UK from China and then fulfil to Europe and many parts of the world from the UK. At the moment we benefit from the free movement of goods across Europe. If we leave the single market then this will change having a large impact on the way we fulfil orders across the region.”

Winds of change

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What can the experiences of established British sex tech entrepreneurs and their perspectives on Brexit teach the current crop of fledgling startups? What advice—if any—can be afforded in these strange, uncertain times?

“My advice would be to simply ignore the outcome and initial fallout of Brexit,” says Lewis. “Top entrepreneurs will know that their own decisions and actions have a much larger impact on the success of their business compared with any outside influences. Consider, adapt, and move forward.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Smith, who delivers a dose of reality when it comes to brand new ventures in an already volatile market.

“Most pre-launch startups will fail so focus on creating a great product, figuring out how to sell it, and so you really don’t need to spend your time worrying about this.”

Brexit’s biggest problem is that the vote will set in motion a number of historically unprecedented events, with no real knowledge if governments, nations, and people are indeed ready or equipped to deal with them.

For all of the conjecture and possible plans, it’s difficult for the British sex tech entrepreneurs to look ahead with any conviction. Everything is up in the air and in typically frustrating fashion, only time will tell.

“We are just waiting to see what happens” remarks Lewis. “We’re yet to see if leaving the European Union is a good or bad thing for us, because there’s no plan for it!”

Perhaps it’s now that we need sex tech most of all; reminding ourselves that practical application of sex and sexuality provides a spark to the present and gives a glimpse of a better, more cohesive future.

Image sources: Carlos ZGZ, Tobias Abel

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Robotics Expert David Levy on Sexbots, Love, and Loneliness http://futureofsex.net/robots/robotics-expert-david-levy-sexbots-love-lonelines/ http://futureofsex.net/robots/robotics-expert-david-levy-sexbots-love-lonelines/#respond Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:50:46 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8971 Author of Love and Sex with Robots writes about impetus for human-android relationships. Riding the dust storm of the wildly popular show Westworld, David Levy recently penned a piece for The Daily Mail on what he sees as the future of human-robot sexuality, or, as the publication puts it: the dawn of the sexbots. Levy […]

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Author of Love and Sex with Robots writes about impetus for human-android relationships.

A photo of chess champion David Levy.

Riding the dust storm of the wildly popular show Westworld, David Levy recently penned a piece for The Daily Mail on what he sees as the future of human-robot sexuality, or, as the publication puts it: the dawn of the sexbots.

Levy always offers an entertaining read—his positive attitude toward robosexuality—when people are sexually attracted to robots—is particularly refreshing. The man, after all, did write the book on the subject: Love and Sex with Robots.

Sexbots and us: a matter of time

While a bit scarce on talking about the new HBO show, Levy still manages to be entertaining and informative. Most of the piece is dedicated to his belief that human-robot relationships aren’t just healthy, but that in a few short years we’ll be seeing actual legal marriages between organic and inorganic beings.

What’s particularly insightful is his very human argument for humans falling in love—and lust—with sexbots: loneliness.

It’s something that far too many people seem to have forgotten when talking about the attraction between humans and their creations. Sure, some have talked about sexbots as being a new form of human sexuality, or even part of an allure for technology, but here Levy comes right out and says it:

“There are many millions of people in this world who are very lonely because they have no one to love and no one who loves them.”

There’s a kind of chill that comes along with reading those words. Levy reminds us in one sentence that sexbot love, for so many, could come down to a choice between something or nothing:

“For these socially challenged people, a more appropriate question to ask is not ‘Why is it better to love or have sex with a robot than with another human?’, but ‘Is it better to love or have sex with a robot or to have no love or sex at all?'”

These statements are even more refreshing when you have people like Kathleen Richardson of the Campaign Against Sex Robots on the other side of the fence; people who seem to ignore that while sexbots may bring their own unique problems, they also could be a solution to people in serious emotional pain.

The state of sexbot tech

In addition to his speculation about their therapeutic uses, Levy mentions developments in sexbot technology from Abyss Creations, the maker of the popular silicone RealDoll, but and non-sexual robots such as those from Hanson Robotics.

But even here in his discussion of synthetic skin, sensors, teledildonics, and other hardware, he manages to pull us into the bigger picture: emotions.

He quotes a remarkably sensitive Matt McMullen, CEO of Abyss Creations, who says that it’s not about the nuts and bolt, but creating a real connection between his sexbots and their users:

“I want to have people actually develop an emotional attachment to not only the robot but the actual character behind it. To develop some kind of love for this being.”

We like those that are like us

Levy also addresses Kathleen Richardson’s concerns that since humans don’t need empathy to sexually connect with sexbots, we could be “promoting non-empathetic forms of living as adults.”

He points out that a key element in human emotional relationships is the idea of similarity: that we are attracted to people—or even things—that mirror ourselves in level of education, attitudes, or a common interest.”

Naturally, this will take some wizardry-level software writing but, he points out, that’s just a matter of time.

Looking forward

Personally, I’m glad that Levy is out there, preaching his acceptance and positivity toward the possible future of humans and robots.

We need more voices like his, and less Westworld. Someone who sees the inevitable development of androids, and sexual attraction to them, as not something celebrating the worst aspects of humanity but instead the best: love and desire.

Image source: Love and Sex with Robots Congress, John McStravick

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Pole-dancing Robot Stripper Performs at Melbourne Sexpo http://futureofsex.net/robots/pole-dancing-robot-stripper-performs-melbourne-sexpo/ http://futureofsex.net/robots/pole-dancing-robot-stripper-performs-melbourne-sexpo/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:42:14 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8960 An eye-catching display tackles sex, robotics, and surveillance.  Ever wondered what pole-dancing robots would look like? Don’t worry, British artist Giles Walker has got you covered. In response to the Feel The Future theme at Melbourne’s 2016 Sexpo [NSFW] in Australia, Walker gave patrons of  a taste of what a future of sexy androids might look like. Kinetic […]

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An eye-catching display tackles sex, robotics, and surveillance. 

A photo of Giles Walker's dancing robot

Ever wondered what pole-dancing robots would look like? Don’t worry, British artist Giles Walker has got you covered. In response to the Feel The Future theme at Melbourne’s 2016 Sexpo [NSFW] in Australia, Walker gave patrons of  a taste of what a future of sexy androids might look like.

Kinetic sculptures

Although they might look like robots or strippers, they are in fact neither. Walker explains that they are simply kinetic sculptures made from mannequins, windshield wipers, and CCTV cameras. Although not linked to the Star Wars series, the dancers look like they might be the kind of droids you would find in the movie franchise.

“I started as a scrap artist building sculptures from what could be found in the scrap yards, and therefore was familiar with the parts available from scrapped cars,” Walker said to FoxNews. “In the case of these robots, I used windscreen wiper motors to move the body parts. These motors turn on and off with a simple programmable PCB. The figures consist of a metal armature, clad in plastic body parts cut from old mannequins and resprayed.”

Sex and surveillance

Combining themes like sex and surveillance creates an interesting interpretation of an online sexual future, especially after reports of people being recorded while masturbating, without their permission, when visiting adult film websites, and been scammed into paying the blackmailers.

Another interpretation of the piece could revolve around the Big Brother phenomenon, which involves authorities watching our every move. Extrapolating this idea to the realm of sex can be a scary thought as sexual acts are stereotypically expressed in a private sphere. Potentially exploiting this kind of privacy in the future is problematic.

Walker explored this idea as a result of the UK’s surveillance: “At the time I was building these sculptures the UK was being flooded with CCTV cameras,” he said. “They were everywhere, like mechanical ‘Peeping Toms’ on every street corner.”

Voyeurism or just fun?

Walker added that the kinetic sculptures aren’t only supposed to be seen as sex objects. Instead, the intention was to explore a sense of voyeurism, a concept often linked to sexual desire.

“By placing the CCTV on the body of a pole dancer I am looking at the relationship of voyeurism and power,” Mr. Walker told AAP. “Is she (the stripper) the one with the power, or is it the people watching her?”

“Most [of] the ‘sexualised’ robots you see remind me of the living dead,” Walker said. “I was up for the challenge and wanted to see if I could turn a pile of old scrap into something that could represent anything close to ‘sexy.'”

Despite Walker’s ability to create sex-exuding humanoid dancers, he doesn’t actually want them to replace humans in the sex sphere. Humans allow for a certain amount of accountability, whereas robotics may allow for more flexibility.

“If people can get used to the idea that they can do whatever they want to it without responsibility then it leads to a very dangerous area,” Walker said to 9news.

Futuristic views

Although Walker initially created this installation in 2012 for a show called Peepshow, the piece still delivers a sense of the future. This dystopian art installation opens a discussion for what the future of robotics might look like in the sex industry. We’ve already seen the rise of sex robots, and the exploration of robotic love in television series such as Westworld and Dark Matter or movies like Ex Machina.

Although Walker’s installation is still far off from looking truly human, it does still have some sexual aesthetic to it. Perhaps it will pave the way for sexualized robotics that don’t have to meet the standards of real life. Sex toys that represent disembodied genitals or mouths already exist in the forms of Fleshlights or dildos. Maybe something along the lines of mechanical arms could satisfy men, women, and trans consumers.

Walker prefers if the robotics remain non-sentient and maybe that’s for good reason.

Image source: Cakehead Loves Evil

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Survey: 16% of British Women Want Virtual Reality Sex http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/survey-16-british-women-want-virtual-reality-sex/ http://futureofsex.net/sex-tech/survey-16-british-women-want-virtual-reality-sex/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:22:01 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8953 As the sex tech industry grows, so does its demand. According to a survey carried out by the fertility tracking app company Natural Cycles, 16% of British women want virtual reality sex. New sex tech Of the 2,618 women who took part in the survey, 40% said they welcome technological advancements with regard to sex, and […]

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As the sex tech industry grows, so does its demand.

A woman wears a virtual reality headset.

According to a survey carried out by the fertility tracking app company Natural Cycles, 16% of British women want virtual reality sex.

New sex tech

Of the 2,618 women who took part in the survey, 40% said they welcome technological advancements with regard to sex, and that as a result of new tech innovations, sex could become more fun and enjoyable.

Tech advancements have already revolutionized the way people date or meet potential sexual partners through dating apps like Tinder, Happn, and Grindr. Tech specifically created for sex has opened up a whole new world for personal pleasure and couples play, as consumers can opt for a range of sex toys or dip into an immersive virtual reality.

“Brits love tech and are open minded about its use when it comes to sex,” said Dr. Elina Berglund, co-founder of Natural Cycles, in a press release. “Future technologies, like advanced wearable tech, virtual reality, intelligent sex toys and artificial skin, are becoming part of our everyday lives and redefining the way we enjoy sex.”

Social media

Social networks have also changed the way people communicate with one another. But are likes, shares, or retweets better than sex? Not according to the survey where 95% of the participants said they would rather give up social media than sex. Despite this figure, 20% of women said that they would like to use social media for sexual arousal.

Apps

But what about all those apps? According to the survey, 15% of women already use various apps to help find sexual satisfaction. These kinds of apps could also refer to virtual reality sexual experiences, as smartphones can often be transformed into virtual reality headsets. 63% of women said they would like to use sex toys, whereas 9% reported already using sex toys that connect to their phones.

Image source: Natural Cycles

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Hot TV Robots: Futurama’s Bender http://futureofsex.net/robots/hot-tv-robots-futuramas-bender/ http://futureofsex.net/robots/hot-tv-robots-futuramas-bender/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:14:20 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8752 The shiny metal robot goes on a legal fight for human-android relationships. Continuing our look at sexy television androids, this time let’s shake things up a bit go from live action to animation. And, believe me, no artificial being is more animated than Bender Bending Rodriguez, of Futurama “This is a simple matter of justice, […]

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The shiny metal robot goes on a legal fight for human-android relationships.

Bender the robot from Futurama has some sizzling romances.

Continuing our look at sexy television androids, this time let’s shake things up a bit go from live action to animation.

And, believe me, no artificial being is more animated than Bender Bending Rodriguez, of Futurama

“This is a simple matter of justice, which I’m not normally for. So please, vote yes. After all, our love isn’t any different than yours, except it’s hotter, ’cause I’m involved.”

The product of Matt Groening (of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen, Futurama dearly loves to play with just about every cliche of science fiction: aliens, mutants, heads in jars, suicide booths, starships, intelligent parasites, virtual reality, cybernetic implants and, you guessed it, androids.

Well, robots, if you want to get nit-picky as Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio) can in no way, no-how pass for a human. And he’s fine with that, thank you very much—or, as he likes to say you can “bite my shiny metal a**.”

While other artificial life forms might be sweet and innocent, Bender is anything but. Leela (voiced by Katey Sagal), his co-worker at Planet Express, sums him up perfectly: an “alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler.”

And that’s why we love him.

So why is Bender here? As any fan of Futurama can attest, for every moment of hilarity the show also either plucks at a heartstring (damn them for Jurassic Bark) or tickles the intellect.

With Bender, Futurama delves into more than a few issues around artificial intelligence—and artificial intelligence and sex. Putting aside the silliness that robots in Futurama have genders, or in one episode they reproduce sexually, Bender still raises a lot of interesting questions.

One is that Bender was created fully conscious (in one episode) and is supposed to be equipped with a back-up unit: his digital consciousness can be transferred to another body if he were disabled. In that same episode, Bender learns that, ooopsie, he never received one of those units, leading him on a bit of artificial soul searching when he realizes he’s not functionally immortal.

As with The Simpsons, Futurama also enjoys exploring social issues. In “Proposition Infinity,” Bender and another co-worker, Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) develop a relationship—and rouse the ire of those who feel that “robosexuality,” sex between a robot and a human, is wrong.

Bender’s appeal before the court is as playful as it is touching and sincere:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury… Oops! Sorry, force of habit. I support this proposition because I’m in love with a goopy, flesh-and-blood woman, and not surprisingly, she loves me. This is a simple matter of justice, which I’m not normally for. So please, vote yes. After all, our love isn’t any different than yours, except it’s hotter, ’cause I’m involved.

When you boil it down, though, it’s in spite of—or because of—his nature that the other characters on Futurama actually care about, or even love him. This is what makes his appearance here too perfect.

In the end

Futurama might be for laughs, but as with the best humor, there’s a truth underlying it all: love is love—though with Bender it’d be much, much hotter.

Do you have any favorite sexy androids on the small screen? Share them in the comments below.

In the meantime stay tuned for Part 4, where we’ll look at the beautiful—yet disturbing —synths of Humans.

Image source: Sasa S.

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Men Are Attempting to Use Chatbots to Fulfill Their Sexual Desires http://futureofsex.net/robots/men-attempting-use-chatbots-fulfill-sexual-desires/ http://futureofsex.net/robots/men-attempting-use-chatbots-fulfill-sexual-desires/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:04:33 +0000 http://futureofsex.net/?p=8927 What happens when we eroticize virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana?  As technology becomes increasingly “user-friendly,” a few people have begun to see some tech as less of a thing—and even as a replacement for human interaction. For example, The Sunday Express recently posted an article about how some men have been using the new […]

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What happens when we eroticize virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana? 

Robin is a virtual assistant for driving.

As technology becomes increasingly “user-friendly,” a few people have begun to see some tech as less of a thing—and even as a replacement for human interaction.

For example, The Sunday Express recently posted an article about how some men have been using the new virtual assistant from Robin Labs to try to, as they say, “fulfill some of their deepest desires.”

“Talk dirty to me, Robin”

Similar to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, Robin is billed as “your personal eyes-free assistant on the road.” Users give spoken commands to request various information, including details about local businesses and the most efficient route to a particular destination.

While Robin can do all kinds of things, it’s not set up to handle someone trying to engage with it sexually—but that hasn’t stopped some of its male users from trying.

The chief executive of Robin Labs, Ilya Eckstein, explained to The Times his view on the why some men are trying to connect sexually with software: “This happens because people are lonely and bored…. It is a symptom of our society.”

Will fiction become fact?

The Sunday Express points out the similarity between men “flirting” with Robin and the 2013 film Her by Spike Jonze—where a lonely fellow (played by Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his personal digital assistant, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

While not directly referencing the film, its theme of men trying to connect with software as a surrogate for human sexual activity is clearly on Eckstein’s mind: “As well as the people who want to talk dirty, there are men who want a deeper sort of relationship or companionship.”

At present, Eckstein says that only a small number of men—just 5%—have been trying to have sexy chats with Robin. But even this small number has caused quite a bit of discussion.

Over at The Telegraph, Rachel Hosie speculates that these men might be using personal digital assistants as a kind of proxy for treating women as objects, or sexual slaves—extrapolating on Eckstein’s statement: “People want to flirt, they want to dream about a subservient girlfriend, or even a sexual slave. It may just be more for laughs, or something deeper underneath the surface.”

Hello, Siri; hello, Cortana

Meanwhile, many developers have been mute on whether their own personal digital assistants receive flirtatious or sexually-charged remarks.

However, as we’ve previously reported, since the launch of Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana in 2014, many users have asked the AI sex-related questions, in particular, one’s about the software’s sex life.

Microsoft’s AI advocate Deborah Harrison also said that the company was trying to pour some cold water onto the situation. “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage, she told Techaeris earlier this year. In fact, if you ask Cortana about her sex life, she’s programed to sting you with a harsh rebuke.

Encouraged or not, some men are pretty persistent in their pursuit of software sexuality. Eckstein says, “Some users are amazingly stubborn in that sense. They walk from one assistant to another trying to find one that will understand them best and can have a conversation with them.”

Your very personal assistant

One thing is for certain, whether by design or not, there is a percentage of men who want virtual assistants to meet their sexual needs. Famed roboticist David Levy is even developing erotic chatbots intended for flirting and sexy conversations to quench the demand.

What’s going to be interesting is watching how developers of everyday virtual assistants like Siri and Robin will program their AIs to respond to sexual come-ons and—as they get even more responsive and sophisticated—how the software itself will talk back.

Maybe, in perhaps a few short years, we’ll find this evolving along similar lines to the movie Her: where the men won’t just be talking at assistants like Robin, but really engaging with them—sexually as well as personally.

Image source: Robin

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