(11/18/13) With just about every advance in technology, a creative application towards sexuality occurs. No sooner did the electric light bulb catch on that powered vibrators began hitting the market (yes, yes, for “muscle aches” and such. Sure.) No sooner did the plate camera debut that porn was born. No sooner did the BetaMax arrive that everyone could suddenly star in their very own skin flick. No sooner did a PC appear on desks everywhere that cybersex in all of its forms become all the rage–well, at least until the next big thing (pardon the pun) came along.
For a civilization that historically seems so hung up on sex, we sure do have a long track record of creatively–and successfully–tweaking geekdom in pursuit of orgasms.
In any event, repurposing technology for sexual gratification is just part of the game and there’s no reason to think that it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s probably about to gain speed exponentially. We’re not quite to the realm of the “Orgasmatron” fictionally foreseen in the 1970s, but we’re pretty close with medical devices designed to read and manipulate brainwaves and nervous system functions. While such items may have been originally conceived to treat things like head traumas and spinal cord mishaps, you can bet that there’s a little pervy R&D type tucked away in a dark corner somewhere musing, “Hmm…wonder what else we can use this gizmo for?” How long do you think it’ll take for someone to figure out that there’s millions more to be made simply by slapping on some slick marketing? Case in point: The medication, sildenafil citrate, was specifically developed to treat conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Ah, but guess what else they figured out it could do? So, just tint the pill blue and give it a snazzy, virile-sounding name and ta-daaa: Viagra. It’s capitalism at its finest.
So, what lies ahead? With advances at a fever pace, it’s not even just a matter of technocycling, but also redefining what we thought we used to know. Simple concepts like “relationships” and “intimacy” have suddenly exploded well beyond what was once clear cut into a blurred digital realm where both can easily occur without the people involved having actually met or even touched. No doubt, there will be a period where some (likely older generations) classify such developments as “fake” or “bad” while others (probably those brought up to employ virtual technologies as a perfectly natural part of their lives) will be more accepting of them as “real” or “good”–with all sorts of subtle shades in between. For a time, there will continue to be debates as to whether “cyber-cheating” is a “real” act of infidelity while others will trumpet the premise that there’s nothing phony about actual sexual gratification through digital means. No doubt many will classify one end of the spectrum as detached fantasy while others will tout actual benefits such as precluding unwanted pregnancies and STDs. As with most things in a major state of flux, there’s no universal answer, but it is pretty clear that it’s going to continue to evolve, perhaps in ways we cannot even conceive of today.
In a world where technology has enabled greater democracy while simultaneously turbo charging capitalism, the possibilities for sex tech are literally endless. Where do you think it will go? What kinds of items do you think will appear on the horizon within the next 50 years? We’d love to hear your thoughts.