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Sex in a Cybernetic World

August 15, 2011

Sex is an age-old theme in science fiction.  From the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen‘s movie Sleeper, to the SQUID device of the movie Strange Days, novelists and screenwriters have speculated what sex would be like as technology advanced. What would a tight integration of brain and computer do to the human libido? Would the spontaneity of sex be lost in the advanced mentality? Would the hormonal chemistry be altered by the computer’s interaction with the involuntary actions of the brain? What will cybersex become in a fully realized virtual reality with sight, sound, and tactile interface? Would it even be necessary for lovers to live in the same town? Would this capability enhance efforts toward safe sex and lower the teenage pregnancy rate? Could this be a solution for over-population? Or would the lack of actual tactile contact cause unforeseen damage to the human physiology and psychology?

In the novel I am writing currently, I am exploring these ideas.  I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Wow, Norman… interesting questions… Well, computers are visual media, and the brain is stimulated by what it sees and imagines. As a result, computers can be a medium for sexual fantasy and imaginary sexual exploration. The virtual world is a real world to the extent that the mind can imagine it to be. However, I believe that no matter how advanced, alluring, stimulating, bizarre or addicting non human contact sex could be, I think humans will always have at their core an innate desire to connect with others simply because we are animals. I believe all technology affects the human psyche and physiology; how and how quickly it affects each person will vary depending on ones’ involvement with the technology, and ones’ genes. Perhaps an over involvement or addiction to virtual or mechanical sex of some sort could make intimacy with another human being more difficult. It could somehow (and I don’t now how) become a mandated way to prevent the spread of disease if epidemics are out of control, and people have to isolate themselves from others to protect the human race. I still believe that at a core level, humans will always long for ‘real’ intimacy, even if they spend a lifetime without it. (I just thought of Phantom of the Opera).

  2. I agree with Susanne.

    I’ll also add, that our virtual selves are different than our actual selves. I know that the virtual self is just an aspect of the real self, but there are huge differences in how we behave virtually. This is actually a huge topic of study in Psychology right now.

    One thing to consider is how much people isolate themselves because they are “connected” through online social networks. People are constantly seeking instant gratification through photos, status updates, comments, game requests, and so on, but at the expense of actually going out and mingling with people in person. I think there is a connection between this and the delusional thinking displayed by many people in regard to world events, the economy, politics, and even the basic things such as what communication actually is. It is an exchange of information–no one cares about the status update describing what is for dinner. People are losing touch with what matters.

    If HIV and AIDs doesn’t scare people from overpopulating the earth with their spawn, I doubt that virtual sex would put a dent in it. It would just be one more thing to distract people–no different than porn, drugs, videogames, gambling, or online social groups. It may distort their sense of reality, it may offer an escape, but people will probably always go at it like rabbits. If anything, it would continue to degrade us as human beings, like anything else that can be marketed and be pleasurable.

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