Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Automatic Sweethearts for Transhumanists: Sexbots on the Rise
More than a hundred years ago, the American philosopher and ur-psychologist William James once briefly discussed, in one of the footnotes to his book Pragmatism, the possibility and desirability of a sexual companion that acted exactly like a real human lover would, but that did not feel anything at all. James called this fantasy an "automatic sweetheart". Philosophers of mind would later, dropping the erotic connotations, speak of a "philosophical zombie".
Today, it seems, automatic sweethearts have already become a reality. They are called sex robots or simply "sexbots". You can buy them on the internet (www.sexbots.us, which I first misread as Sexbots R Us), the basic, "unmotorized" version for 6,000 USD (plus shipping and handling) and the advanced version ("self-contained, rechargeable and touch activated") for 11,299 USD. Tough choice, but at least you can try them before you buy, that is, rent them first to make sure it's the right thing for you. What you are being promised is a "life-like sexual companion" with "life-like movements" and a removable (for easier cleaning) skin with "natural flesh-like feel" who is designed "with the movements needed to perform sexual acts" so it can "actually do the job". However, what you really get, judging from the pictures and short videos in which you can see the bots in action, is an (either male or female) giant Barbie Doll, fresh from the Uncanny Valley. There's even a short video where you can watch Ken and Barbie having sex, which is about as arousing as watching two coupling ladybirds. Honestly, I would much rather use my hand than do it with one of those bots.
But then, I'm not a transhumanist. If I were one I would be obliged to celebrate the rise of the sexbots as another victory in our brave struggle against nature and against nasty bioluddites. Last month the Centre for Transhumanity republished on their website transhumanity.net an article by a certain Hank Pellisier entitled "Sexbots Will Give Us Longevity Orgasms". The same article had already been published three years earlier in the magazine of the World Transhumanist Association humanity plus (when the author still called himself "Hank Hyena", which is probably the worst pseudonym in the history of pseudonyms). The images show two sparsely clad and certainly very enticing young women who supposedly are meant to be taken for paradigmatic sexbots (and who look nothing like the real ones of the Ken & Barbie type). The article begins by informing us that sex is good for us, the more and the more explosive, the better. But that means that we hardly ever get enough of it. Real human companions tend to have the occasional headache or their period or have to work or what have you, so twice a day is out of the question, and after a while the sex you get is not even particularly good, which is really bad for your mental and physical health. Enter the sexbots, which are exactly the kind of sexual partner that we always wanted, only much, much better, like just about everything in the technologically enchanted posthuman world that transhumanists are so fond of salivating over. You like sex? You ain't seen nothing yet. By the year 2050
"sexbots will electrocute our flesh with climaxes thrice as gigantic because they’ll be more desirable, patient, eager, and altruistic than their meat-bag competition, plus they’ll be uploaded with supreme sex-skills from millennia of erotic manuals, archives and academic experiments, and their anatomy will feature sexplosive devices. Sexbots will heighten our ecstasy until we have shrieking, frothy, bug-eyed, amnesia-inducing orgasms. They’ll offer us quadruple-tongued cunnilingus, open-throat silky fellatio, deliriously gentle kissing, transcendent nipple tweaking, g-spot massage & prostate milking dexterity, plus 2,000 varieties of coital rhythm with scented lubes — this will all be ours when the Sexbots arrive."
Wow, I can't wait. The guy is not joking, by the way. He seems to really mean it. Finally we're going to get the kind of sex that we deserve. Life will be as it should have been all along. And it's so healthy and can easily add several years to your life. And it's so much easier. No more foreplay, no more boring conversations, no commitment or obligations, no embarrassing questions, no talking back. Perfect!
"Sexbots will never have headaches, fatigue, impotence, premature ejaculation, pubic lice, disinterest, menstrual blood, jock strap itch, yeast infections, genital warts, AIDS/HIV, herpes, silly expectations, or inhibiting phobias. Sexbots will never stalk us, rape us, diss us on their blog, weep when we dump them, or tell their friends we were boring in bed."
Hyena/ Pellisier further predicts that sexbots will come with an option: eye contact or no eye contact. And they will shower after we have used them "and put themselves back in the closet." So convenient.
So sexbots are really good for us on so many levels. Life extension, the holy grail of transhumanism. Well-being and happiness for everyone, at any time, the hedonistic imperative. And of course control, independence, autonomy. Nature finally defeated. We don't need anyone, and we are not needed by anyone. (Human lovers are much too needy. We don't need that.) Sexbots make us free. We can finally take without having to give anything back. We don't have to worry about what they feel. They never disobey. We can just use them. Humans like to see themselves as ends and tend to resent being treated as a mere means. Sexbots won't object. They are means.