Futurists looking for an intelligent forum to discuss sex trends are in for a treat.
Tantalizing topics like mind sex, smart sex toys, and the perks of making love to robots and avatars will all be covered at the World Future Society conference this July.
In her talk called “The Future of Sex,” chartered psychologist Karen Moloney will explore such advances in technology. She plans on unpacking their social, legal, and economic effects to show how some people will come out as winners and others as losers.
Moloney agreed to give us a sneak preview, sharing her insights on what will be the major game changers.
Exciting research on brain-computer interfacing shows the potential for having sex via your thoughts alone.
Moloney calls this mind sex — a way of bypassing the physical and going straight to the experience in your head. It is a form of telepathy that can happen when two people’s brains are connected through a computer.
“Without even saying the words, I could describe something and see a picture of a fantasy that I’m enjoying and I could transmit it to you,” she said.
“You don’t need to employ your sense of touch or anything else. You can have a sexual experience just by thinking about it.”
To back up her view that mind sex could one day become real, Moloney points to a 2013 experiment at the University of Washington. One researcher was able to move the finger of his colleague sitting in a different room with brain signals.
“I know that brain-computer interfacing is the next new horizon. And of course, it will enable all sorts of sexual, as well as any other kind of intellectual activity, to be transferred from person to person,” she said.
Sex Video Games
Moloney also believes gaming technologies will be an important frontrunner in bringing more people online for sex. They use equipment to help simulate sex in a virtual world.
One explanation is the already large number of video game users. Another is that it is simply convenient.
“People are on the go so much, on the move so much, away from opportunity with real-life human beings,” she said.
“So it is always probably quicker and easier to just take a piece of kit, put it on the end of your penis and enjoy something when there is nobody available.”
While Moloney says people are starting to use this technology, it’s still at a very early stage of development.
One popular device around today is the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that allows users to interact with 3D environments. When paired with sex gadgets like Tenga, as shown in the video below [NSFW], it can create a truly erotic experience.
However, some people are worried about the Oculus Rift’s future in 3D sex games after Facebook announced its plan to acquire Oculus VR Inc. for $2 billion last week.
Curbing Violence with Virtual Sex
Many people stand to benefit from progress in the field of virtual sex. But one of Moloney’s big hopes is that it will help reduce violence.
“If we can carry out our fantasies online without harming another human being or making someone pregnant or enslaving them in some way, then virtual sex or sex online should reduce the amount of real damage that sexual activity can do to other human beings,” she said.
Moloney acknowledges research is divided on whether watching violence on TV pushes people to copy what they see or just provides a cathartic adrenaline rush. So it’s not 100% clear if aggressive, dark fantasies played out with robots and avatars will curb abuse on real people.
Still, she isn’t discounting the possible upsides.
“If we can make it so those are better than raping a real woman, then wonderful, let’s hope men go there and not down onto our streets,” she said.
For those of you who want to hear more from Moloney, she will speaking at WorldFuture 2014: What If in Orlando, Florida, on July 12.
Image source: Saad Faruque