I studied the future of sex for 9 months and this is what I learned
Over dinner last month, a friend outsourced their girlfriend’s ‘erotic experience’ to me. Handing me their phone, I pressed a few buttons on an app…a frequency appeared. The recipient, in another country, had paired a vibrator to the app. It must have felt okay because she texted back: ‘OMG’.
She didn’t know it was me. I handed back the phone and he carried on.
Did it matter?
Our digital and off-line lives have become so intermingled that everything we do, including each other, has been affected.
You don’t need to be a futurist to see how sex and all its cousins — intimacy, relationships, love and dating — are changing significantly.
But what is the future of sex?
In January of this year I decided to find out.
In order to do this, in a completely non-clinical, non-academic, human-on-a-mission type way, I replicated my super-scientific model I used for Absolut’s future of nightlife report — that is, talk to people.
Listen. Record their stories.
To date, I’ve talked to 100+ experts and everyday people about the future of sex.
What have I learned so far?
Through stories with technologists, scientists, filmmakers and therapists (who see into the most bedrooms of all), I have seen how technology is forming its own middle space in sexuality; located between the act of having sex with someone and having sex with yourself. And the implications of this might make some of you feel a little uncertain.
If you find yourself talking to someone in VR porn for instance, the future of sex will look like one big virtual orgy from the confines (or safety?) of your own couch and consciousness.
Venturing into the sextechnosphere, connected toys and VR fantasies barely scratch the surface of possibilities…‘sex tech’ is a vast landscape that encompasses all five senses. The sci-fi sexbots of 70s cinema are being developed to recognize body language, speak and respond to eye contact. Pansexual social networks for remote sex ‘friends’ and lab-grown genitals are appearing at the edges of innovation today.
Earlier this year, I met with futurist Ross Dawson in Sydney. As a futurist he has mapped the future sex landscape (see below), and recently developed a report with nine eye-opening predictions on the Future of Sex.
The report includes the mind-blowing expectation that one in ten young adults will have had sex with a humanoid robot by 2045. And as I dove more into the research and technology, it no longer sounded so implausible.
So, what happens when the barista that made you coffee this morning can enter your sexual fantasy through a VR simulation ?
Using a similar facial recognition technology that Facebook adopts for your photo albums, you could soon have auto-suggested friends for your sexual adventures in virtual reality. This technology is already being used in webcam sites to match up your selfie with someone that looks like you, or anyone else you like. Dawson predicts that by 2024 people will be able to enact impossible fantasies in a photo-realistic world.
By asking the question ‘what happens’ when X technology becomes widely available, I was curious to understand what happens to us — to our brains, our ideas, our identities and our relationships with one another.
While technology is continuing to create a range of possibilities for better orgasm and more imaginative experiences focused on the individual, a largely unexplored area is how these innovations will affect intimacy or impact the mutual experience you create with others.
How will we form new relationship boundaries with VR? Is sex with a robot cheating? Is intimacy with a robot even possible?
So. many. questions.
And yes, if you ask, it seems we’re all horrified about sex robots. But, we’d (mostly) give it a try.
The answers unfolding to the future of sex are not just for a few geeks in their garage to decide, as Hollywood once conceived. It’s likely coming to a relationship near you.
How are you going to navigate these unchartered waters?
What started out as a personal project has well and truly led me down the rabbit hole. I had no concept of some of the places I would visit and things I have seen.
Now, I am excited to share them with you…
The first episode of the Future of Sex podcast landed on iTunes today.
Give it a listen, make sure you hit subscribe to take a 14-episode journey with me into the coming transformation of human sexuality…
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