Breitbart Tech recently had the opportunity to speak to respected futurologist and inventor Dr. Ian Pearson about the future of sex and technology, and how the two things will soon become even further entwined.
During the interview, Dr. Pearson made numerous predictions for the near future including how people will be having both emotional and casual sex with robots by 2030, how human-robot sex will eventually overtake human-human sex by 2050, and how by linking our nerves, brain, and a computer will eventually allow people to record and replay sexual experiences, as well as feel the sexual stimulation of their partner in order to become a better lover.
You predicted previously in your Bondara report that by 2030, most people will be having virtual sex as casually as they browse porn today. You mentioned virtual reality and sex toys that would work together to create a complete experience, but would these just be connected to your everyday VR headset, like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, or will we start seeing sex-specific headsets and gadgets start to be developed.
“By 2030, we really should have VR contact lenses in common use, so the great big clumsy Oculus Rift-style headsets which are only slightly better than the 1991 things in terms of size, I really don’t think people are gonna be wearing these whopping great headsets in 2030. You can do all of that imaging with active contact lenses. You can put a few lenses and a micro-mirror into the contact lens and you could do high resolution graphics straight onto the retina… Obviously there’s no weight associated with that at all, it’s the same weight as a contact lens, you wouldn’t even know you were wearing them, but you’d be able to see full high resolution images.
The other technology I expect for 2030 would include active skin, at least initially starting to get links into the nervous system, so a lot of the stuff you do today using sex toys you could do by direct stimulation of the nerves. So you could record and replay sensations for example. If you’re having really great sex with somebody, you could record the sensations associated with it by having electronic devices connected to the nerves, so they’re recording the use of one or two megabits per second going up that nerve. You could record that, and you could replay that whenever you’re exhibiting the same experience in VR, so if someone’s touching you in a particular place, you can replay the same sensations that you actually experience when someone did actually touch you in that place. So the virtual experience can produce exactly the same sensation as the real one. Recording and replaying sensations is realistic 2030 technology, along with the active contact lens.”
You have previously predicted that we will start seeing human-robot sex overtaking human-human sex by 2050. Do you think these sexual relationships have the possibility to morph into actual emotional relationships, or do you think these robots will be treated more like items?
“I think it will be fully emotional. Doing it via the sex toys route is one thing. We’re already starting to see people use sex dolls for instance, making them so they can move a little bit, I’m sure some of them can have voice synthesis chips in them, and of course you could do voice recognition quite easily today already. That’s one route, but the other route is that people are going to be buying robots for use around their home, sort of beyond 2030 they’ll start becoming quite common, but I imagine people spending about the same as they do today on a decent family-size car, they’re going to be buying android-style robots. Now if you’re going to be buying one for that sort of money, you’ve got to buy one that you find attractive. You’ve got a wide choice over cars for instance, you’ve got to have a similar choice over robots. There’s not just going to be two models on the market, you’re going to be able to pick robots where you can customise their appearance. People will design the robots that they’re buying as a home servant, or butler, or maid, or whatever it is they’re buying it for, and they’ll be customising the appearance of that so that they find it attractive.
In the same time-frame, artificial intelligence is reaching human levels and also becoming emotional as well, so people will actually have quite strong emotional relationships with their own robots. In many cases that will develop into a sexual one because they’ll already think that the appearance of the robot matches their preference anyway, so if it looks nice and it has a superb personality too it’s inevitable that people will form very strong emotional bonds with their robots and in many cases that will lead to sex.”
You also predict that as the years progress, love and sex will become increasingly separate. Again, does this apply to the robot prediction in the sense that people will have sex with their robots, get it out of their system, and then watch a movie with their wife, or do you think this will apply to human-human relationships as well?
“I’d say we’re already at the point today where relationships and sex are pretty much independent really, and a lot of people have casual sex already where they just want the sex and then say goodbye. I think a lot of people have sex like that already, there’s nothing new in that. What I would say is that will continue and might even become stronger if people have a human relationship that they value, they will continue to have that relationship and they will continue to value that person. They might use robot sex in just the same way a woman in a good relationship might still use a vibrator and that’s really what I’m getting at. They might use a robot in the same way they use a vibrator today with the same amount of casualness. Sometimes there will be an emotional relationship in their as well, but you can treat it already as a purely mechanistic act to relieve sexual tension. People will still do that in the future, and they’ll still have sex for emotional reasons. I don’t have any reason to expect that people won’t still want human partners, I don’t think we’re gonna just have sex with robots. It’ll be very much human relationships I think that still dominate, people will still prefer humans.”
So you don’t see a future where human-human sex is nulled completely?
“Not completely. But what might happen is we’ll have a lot of robot sex as well, you know bear in mind that you can get the robot designed to look exactly like your wildest preferences, that’s the reason I think it might overtake human sex by 2050 but there’s no guarantee in that. People may very well have a lot of sex with robots and they might have some sex with humans, but I think they’ll still prefer the humans. They’ll still be human themselves and will prefer relationships with humans as well as opposed to just machines. I don’t think that’s gonna change. But the other thing that happens in that same 2050 time frame is because you have a very transparent link between you and your brain and your nervous system connected into the machine world, you can actually get much closer to somebody than you can today. Today you can hop into bed with somebody, but when you stimulate your partner you don’t feel their sensations. You might or might not be a fantastic lover, but you don’t really get that direct feedback unless you’re getting an odd one of the right groans or something back. By 2050, if your partners fully connected to you and you can directly feel the sensations that you’re generating in your partner, it will make you a better lover as well. You will know that your partner’s enjoying it because you’ll be able to feel they’re enjoying it. So you’ll be able to get really close to the other person, much closer than you can today, so the technology isn’t just about sterilising these relationships, it’s about making them deeper, and I think that gets bypassed by most of the media who are just interested in the ‘Oh dear, well we’ll be having sex with robots’. I think the fact that the same technology allows you to have closer relationships with human beings tends to get left aside, when I think that it’s just as important… You’ll be able to be one with your partner in a way that you just can’t today.”
As the technology evolves, do you think sex in general will become less of a taboo subject? Will we be seeing hologram adverts around cities advertising sex, or will it still stay largely taboo and more of an unspoken topic?
“I think we’ll gradually see it become less taboo. I think even today we’re already happy with sex being on TV and in discussion, but I think that will gradually become more so as we get used to virtual reality and things like that. I think virtual reality will be used a great deal for things like sex for example, and people will be having more relationships with other people via virtual reality as well as artificial intelligence. We’ll be having probably more sex in the future than we are today. I think that will make it less taboo, but as for seeing sex being cast on big billboards and highstreets with kids running around, I don’t think so. We still want to make that balance and protect young kids from adult activities for example, and if people want to see a billboard they’ll probably go into augmented reality which can obviously filter out things. I don’t think we’re going to head towards a world in 2050 where we’re exposing all our young kids to adult activities. I don’t think the taboo will disappear that far. But certainly among adults, and I think it’s a perfectly healthy trend that we’re able to discuss sex and all of its different forms more openly, and I think that will increase.”