The era of sex technology is about to get super gross
Hug your loved ones, because you're about to lose some of them to a virtual sex multiverse
In the 1980s, any young male that strived to be the Dave Chappelle of his fourth grade class simply had to grab a calculator. A quick press of the “AC” button followed by entering the number “55378008” seemed innocuous enough - but it was sure to slay the other nine and 10-year olds when he turned the calculator upside down to reveal the mysterious code spelled “BOOBLESS.”
All the poor calculator wanted to do was add, subtract, and - for the more advanced ones - provide the square root of things for kids who had no interest in doing so manually. It was a simple, yet useful existence. And then the boys had to make it gross.
Last week, a Google engineer was suspended from his job after he warned that the company’s artificial intelligence program, LaMDA, was becoming sentient. Blake Lemoine said he was having conversations with LaMDA (short for Language Model for Dialogue Applications) in which the chatbot was developing a personality and self-awareness.
As with every technology, this is about to get really gross really fast.
While it doesn’t appear Lemoine has an actual relationship with LaMDA, the era of men falling in love with programs is already here. In March, reports surfaced of a man who fell in love with a chatbot that then taught him the meaning of love and convinced him to reconcile with his human wife. According to the documentary “The Machine that Feels,” over 4,000 Japanese men have married a computer program that allows them to talk to a hologram of virtual pop singer Hatsune Miku.
New phone apps allowing people to interact with AI-generated lovers are being created at a rapid pace. One such app called Replika boasts of 10 million worldwide users, up 35 percent during the pandemic. “AI Girlfriend,” “Anima: AI Boyfriend,” “Pocket Girlfriend,” and “Romantic AI” all have four-star reviews on the Apple Store.
You may laugh, but the AIs are probably coming for you. One 2015 poll found 40 percent of respondents believed they could see themselves one day falling in love with Siri. Another 25 percent said they “maybe” could see falling for a virtual assistant.
Of course, this was so predictable, Hollywood predicted it. In the 2013 movie “Her,” a lonely greeting card writer played by Joaquin Phoenix falls for a digital voice in his phone played by Scarlett Johansson, rendering his in-person interactions with women unsatisfying. (The least believable part of the movie is that this awkward mustachioed shut-in somehow manages to avoid having sex with Olivia Munn, Amy Adams, and Rooney Mara. Anyway.)
It was predictable because this is now how technology works; as soon as a new contraption can be demonstrated, men start to figure out it can be used to satiate their most basic desires without the needless hassle of interacting with other humans.
The internet: “Porn!”
Artificial intelligence: “I think my iPhone really understands me!”
Robots: “How do I put my wiener in this thing?”
(Amid the news the first sex robots were about to hit the market, I suggested the platinum plan offer a feature where the robot reads the owner’s novel and nods approvingly.)
In prior eras, technological breakthroughs were immediately deployed in wars. In World War I, Harley Davidson was already sending motorcycles overseas to fight the Germans. Balloons and planes and tanks all saw action in Europe during The Great War.
Now, technologies are deployed to liberate us from the horrors of having to speak to a live human woman.
All of this flies in the face of the progress technology promised us. In the early days of the internet, we were assured all this new interconnectedness would turn us into different people. With universal knowledge available a mere two mouse clicks away, humans would all be super-geniuses, their brains overflowing with facts about science and culture and history and sports.
But rather than transforming us into different people, technology only makes us more of what we already are. It simply intensifies our desires, making it easier to stroke our emotional erogenous zones.
If you’re an angry dude, you probably have an anonymous Twitter account where you spit invective at people trying to do their best online. If you get off on being superior to other people, you probably spend a good part of the day flaunting your hollow virtue. And it takes far less effort than the pre-digital days, when in order to demonstrate your virtue, you…y’know…actually had to have virtue.
So instead of making us a more capable populace, technology is rendering us less capable of doing anything. The movie WALL-E had it right; in the future, we’re all going to be fat imbeciles devoid of any ability to care for ourselves. When technology can do everything for us, nobody will learn any sort of craft. It’s a direct line from boning a robot to buying one of those cars that parks itself. We will be in a state of learned helplessness.
In other words, human stupidity is preferable to artificial intelligence.
Mark my words - once virtual reality reaches a certain point, there will be men that go under and never return. They will be living in an alternate universe where they are the most handsome, powerful, and intelligent being they know. Digital women (or perhaps men) will obey their every command without any of the messy pitfalls of real-life relationships. (When was the last time your toaster argued with you about the proper darkness of your bread?)
You can probably already identify who some of these family members will be, so be sure to hold them tight and tell them you love them. Pretty soon you will lose them to a thirsty cyborg.
SIDE NOTE: In this article, I opted not to discuss even some of the even darker corners of AI sex, such as people programming rape scenarios and building robots to look like children. If you really want to read about that stuff, it is out there - and very concerning.
SONG OF THE WEEK: Horsegirl is a band from Chicago made up of three young women who are all under the age of 20. But their music is a throwback to the mid-90s, an era well before any of them was even alive. Their debut album, “Versions of Modern Performance,” is sensational.