That we are intimate with the world is not news. That we have extended this intimacy to our tools is a reality; the idea that we are becoming cyborgs is already here.
There is nothing mysterious or futuristic about being a cyborg, part machine part biological organism. Using our smartphones to remember our appointments, a long list of telephone numbers, addresses and shopping lists is a cyborg activity. The extension and externalization of our memories in electronic devices makes us de-facto modern day cyborgs.
Deploying devices to upgrade and extend our insufficient neuro performance is only part of what we do as cyborgs. We use these extensions for training, for life tracking, for calorie counts, for sleep, you name it, there’s an app for that. But lest we forget, we also have our loves, our cares and our motivations to deal with, our desires both of the flesh and of our imagination. Also these are slowly coming into this symbiotic relationship.
The accelerated tooling times we are living in, allow us to gradually expand the notion of what it means to be human. For, make no mistake; we are far from being similar to our ancestors. A modern day, urbanized, cyberneticaly hyperconnected human, exists in a state of interdependence and sense extension, the like of which no one could have predicted.
We have a new relationship with technology, one we truly cannot extricate ourselves from, and this changes everything. Cyber technologies and information science have brought to bear, not a new tool but a new world with which to be intimate, a cyberspace horizon of potentiality that extends into the material world.
What happens when these cyber-technologies, broaden our nervous system, into other nervous systems, weaving us with the emergent nervous system of the Internet?
Virtually Yours – Techno Desire and Virtual Sex
A plethora of new technologies offers us a wide swath to expand our sensations and emotions into, and our desires and hidden imaginary wishes. Virtual worlds such as second life already thrive, but a growing segment of virtuality is directed, how else? Into sex.
Red districts offering every conceivable sexual wish, from the Toy Slaves Brothel (NSFW), to Fantasy Escorts (NSFW), are here for the take. One of these virtual worlds, appropriately named Red Light Center, (NSFW), carrying the tag line: “EXPAND Your Fantasy”, is modeled after Amsterdam’s red light district and claims a few million users.
Now come the tough questions of course: “is it infidelity to have sex in virtual worlds?” when no ‘real’ sex has occurred? It is hard to come by numbers, but it does make sense that for many it will be considered as such, creating novel situations where the ‘competition’ is an avatar. The ubiquitousness of cyber sex virtual worlds is however only part of the story. It is still you, probably alone, clicking on a button, playing a game.
Enter Synesthesia, literally the coming together of sensation (from the Greek Syn- together and Aesthesis – sensation), a term, which may well denote that which we are experiencing and will increasingly experience as the electronic tools at our disposal evolve. Though the experience of Synesthesia is anything but common and is considered to be of genetic origin, its idiosyncratic nature is what makes it so convenient and adaptable to the extension of our senses via technology.
In fact new developments in haptic technologies, especially those involving vibrotactile feedback, will soon allow us to ‘really’ feel objects in virtual worlds, to feel, to sense and to enjoy the pleasures provided. Feeling the coldness of steel, the weight of a rock or the warmth of a body in a virtual world, is a revolution of the senses, the like of which we have not yet seen. For once the stream of impressions coming to our nervous system is no longer subject to the immediate, the possibilities open to our perceptual apparatus are limited by imagination only, and that we have abundantly.
Once the new mesh of Haptic and Synesthesia comes together the avatar of our own making, will be able not only to see, but touch, feel and sense remote objects to a fullness of satisfaction, that will practically overwhelm us. One of these technologies already available is offering products such as the real touch award winning male masturbator (NSFW), which pledges to be the future of adult entertainment, followed closely by the Mojowijo (NSFW) promising: “The motions of one device are transformed into vibrations in the other, literally allowing you to share the mojo with anyone, anywhere in the world.”
Though these devices are only the very beginning of what cybersex promises to be, a ‘real’ virtual alternative to common relationship, already their problematic implications abound. While Internet enabled sexual toys proliferate and multiple 3D online worlds offer everything from multiple partners, to every single imaginable fantasy one can have it is their descendents, which offer a real glimpse into the future.
The following is a fascinating excursion filmed, written, and edited by Tutsy Navarathna, NSFW but worthwhile watching. Navarathna: “This film is an investigation into the transformations that human relationships face when interacting in Virtual Worlds. Love and sexuality are on an important factor in any human relationships. However, what is new in Virtual Worlds is the ability to exercise those relationships without any real risk, external censure or imposition from an internal “super-ego”. (NSFW)
The ever-present state of being a cyborg however is only a fraction of the story. The complete story we will know only in the fullness of time, today we will do well to look deep into our minds and ask ourselves what is it that we are becoming? What kind of human do we desire to be, and what is already available or is on the horizon for our use and transformation.
If online virtual cyber sex, extended via prosthetics, is the natural next step, then our evolution as cyborg beings is far from obvious. According to David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, not only is it the case that love and sex with robots is inevitable, but by 2050 the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots.
What happens when our emotional make-up is no longer a given and our sexual preferences receive a boost of new options never before encountered? What happens when our sensations can be amplified tenfold? What happens when ‘cool’ means- dating a Gynoid or Android?
To quote from Woody Allen:
“Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.”
Cyborg Love will be the theme, for the next part of this series.