Friday, July 20, 2012

A little light culture: The sexbots are coming! The sexbots are coming!

Well, no they aren't because they are sexbots. Okay, but suppose there was a sexbot that could simulate the reactions of a woman or man reaching orgasm so well that you couldn't tell the difference? Now there is a subject to get the wheels spinning.

Actually, I can't think of anything more boring than discussing sexbots but others apparently differ. It started with Heartiste who inspired Dr. Helen to respond and since she is married to Instapundit he naturally mentioned that his wife was blogging about sexbots and that inspired Ann Althouse to start musing.

I have no idea why but there is a deep human need to worry about virtual reality. Think of Plato who obsessed about the notion that shadows cast by light on the back wall of a cave could be so convincing that people would live their lives like zombies unaware that everything they experienced was false. No such thing was possible in his day and no such thing is possible in ours. But he worried about it and approximately every ten seconds another human being works themselves into a tizzy about this non-problem.

Here is is the key thing to keep reminding yourself of: there is no virtual reality! You are at as much risk of being fooled or replaced by virtual reality as you are of being attacked by Martians. Neither thing exists. Virtual reality has never been possible. Yes, maybe someday, some brilliant innovator in technology will pull it off. (And maybe someday space aliens will invade our planet.) But as of now it's all in your imagination.

We can be momentarily tricked. Go to an IMAX film shot from a plane and you will find yourself leaning to compensate when the plane banks. But that's an illusion and illusions aren't virtual reality. You have all sorts of ways of correcting for illusions. But try to imagine a technology that would simulate a swimming pool so well that you would believe you actually were in the water. That's the quality of illusion it would take to make a sexbot that was more than just a complex sex toy.

A sexbot, when such things become widely available, will be just a masturbatory aid. It will never be even vaguely like having sex with another human being (although I do have to admit that I had a couple of partners back in university who were so bad at sex that they might have been accused of trying to simulate a sexbot).

Of the four links I give above, Heartiste and Althouse are the most interesting. I think Althouse believes that Heartiste is just posturing. That's a reasonable conclusion as Heartiste does a lot of posturing. He knows he isn't really an alpha male but he plays one on the internet. Reading him, I think of those pathetic guys who are really into superhero comics and movies. He lives in a world in which caped Alpha men conquer evil, cock-blocking pussies everywhere! The world he imagines is full of harsh moral tests that clearly distinguish the winners and losers; a world that is just like a comic book world only the battle is sexual and not crimefighting.

In response, Althouse simply reverses the posturing and I suspect her tongue is in her cheek as she does so. The bizarre fantasies of the powerless are always vulnerable to being simply reversed and thus reduced to the point of absurdity.

But all that said, I think Heartiste has one realy solid point on his side and it's this:
Are lazy, apathetic, demotivated men unhappy? Surveys show women are the ones getting unhappier the deeper we get into the feminist and sexual revolutions. 
And that is where Ann Althouse's  joke stops being funny. I live right beside a university campus and the young men I see are a little more pathetic with every passing year. But they aren't unhappy! They could be happier but  they aren't unhappy. The problem, as Heartiste cheerfully points out, is on the other side. All the great feminist victories—birth control, abortion, no-fault divorce, Title IX—have made women unhappy.

Will sexbots catch on? My guess is that they will turn out to be like videophones; that is, a new technology some people anticipated with high hopes that turned out to be really underwhelming when it finally became available. But the key thing about sexbots is this: if you have one, you're a loser. Try this thought experiment if you don't believe me, you meet someone you really admire and start dating, do you think it will enhance your image in their eyes to learn you have a sexbot at home?

Human beings being human beings, we have all sorts of distractions to keep losers from having to face that they are losers: "Hey, you didn't fail at marriage, you're an independent single mother whose really making it on her own." And whether that works for you or not will depend a whole lot on how much your fantasies can compensate for the lack of an actual loving relationship with another human being. The difference between men and women, and the reason Heartiste has the edge over Althouse this one time, is that all the evidence suggests that men will be able to more easily accommodate themselves to being the loser with the sexbot than women will be able to do.  Men would prefer to be in love and they'd be happier if they were but, if that can't work out, they can get by being a fishless bicycle.

Women, not so much. No matter how great the orgasm the machine gives her, she will want love ultimately. Having one of the girls get obsessed with her vibrator makes for a great individual episode of Sex and the City but the longer plot arc always has to be about Pamela getting her Mr. B(ig) because that is what matters more to most women.

I wonder if women are collectively able to figure out what their problem is and if they are able to do what it takes to fix it? Over to you girls.

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