The Future of Sex: Robots and VR porn

Words by Tess Astle
Art by Kelly Zheng

Harmony’s not like other girls. She’s totally customisable. You can choose if she’s blonde or brunette, funny or flirty, curvy or athletic. You can even select her nipple shape, her sex noises and her pubic hair style. She’s your dream girl, with a starting price of $10,000.

Hyper realistic sex robots like Harmony are becoming a reality. Gone are the days of blow-up dolls who look more like a pool toy than an actual human. Now, a moving and talking silicon doll can play the role of your next hook-up, pillow talk and all.  

If you’re not quite ready to invest in a life-size playmate, VR porn combines visual, sensual and intellectual elements to create a lifelike sexual experience. VR porn means that you can live out any sexual fantasy from the comfort of your own home. These developments in technology are pushing sex into uncharted territory. A place where intimacy can be manufactured and expectations can become unrealistic.

It can be easy to dismiss these developments as ‘creepy’ or ‘gross’ but sometimes these sexy machines can be incredibly helpful or empowering. In a VR you can do anything and be anyone you want to be. VR offers a world where you can be gender fluid or queer; you can engage in role play or explore your wildest fantasies. It’s a marvellous space for people to explore themselves and their own kinks. Same goes for sex robots. Girls like Harmony eliminate the inequalities in people’s access to intimacy and sex. There’s lots of ways in which people just don’t have access to sexual intimacy, they may be conventionally unattractive, disabled, social isolated or they may be not ready to come out just yet. Sex robots may not be as good as the ‘real thing’ but for many people it’s better than nothing.

Right now we live in a world where people are increasingly concerned about the impact of technology and sex based stuff is no exception. Many are concerned that VR porn and sex robots create a dehumanised and unrealistic view of sex and women. Let’s be honest, a majority of these products are targeted towards men and present an exaggerated, hairless and air-brushed version of women. It also must be noted that in a world where you have total control over the simulation, robots and virtual partners are likely to always to say yes to sex. This can model a form of consent that we don’t want to endorse, a model which suggests that women are always sexually available.

Another concern is that people with access to a sex robot or VR porn will recluse into their basement and never return. Because when people start using robots as a substitute for human intimacy, the outside world can become a scary place and home can be too good to leave. Sexbots are a double edged sword, they are capable of solving loneliness while creating more, deeper isolation from the real world.

Oh, and there are also potential physical risks. But I’ll leave it up to your imagination to picture what could happen if a sexbot malfunctions.

Technology is undoubtable changing the nature of sex toys and porn, but I do wonder if it will ever replicate or replace sex. After all, sex is complicated.

Beyond the mechanical act of intercourse, sex is about complex emotions, human contact and companionship.

While Harmony may be able to tell you a joke and say your name, I don’t know if she’ll ever be capable of true human emotion or intimacy. After all, she’s only silicon.

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