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Elvia Wilk is a writer and editor living in Berlin, covering art, architecture, urbanism, and emerging technologies. She contributes to publications like Frieze, Artforum, e-flux, die Zeit, the Architectural Review, and Metropolis. Currently she's a contributing editor at Rhizome and publications editor for transmediale festival for arts and digital culture.
What would privacy mean if your sex life were entirely digitized?
Of course, digitized could mean a lot of things—algorithmically planned or tracked; virtual; remote—but in this article Adam Rogers focuses on another “squishy” topic: actual sex with actual robots. From vibrators hooked up to the internet (on the cheaper end) to entire animatronic sex dolls (it’s going to cost you).
Just like any tech, sex tech that is controlled—even partially—by artificial intelligence has the potential to be hacked. Information can be stolen, for one, but in this context something more physically dangerous might also result. Rogers' essay is a crash-course in some of these potentialities.
The ethical terrain gets even more complicated when one thinks about it from the robot’s point of view: is a humanoid robot used only for sexual pleasure essentially a sex slave? Who has a right to decide how conscious is too conscious to be constrained to a life of servicing one’s owner?
These are questions to ask now, as opposed to the near future when the tech actually reaches its full, sexy potential. In the meantime, sex tech designers are thinking up just about everything imaginable. I'll leave you with this image:
“Swarm sex robots, you’d have a couple that would attach to your breasts and a couple that would attach to other parts of your body, and they’d do their thing.”