Elf Sternberg has a concern about our sexual future in the age of sex bots:

But just as the tasteless tomatoes of the grocery store have replaced the vine-ripe readiness of our gardens, artificial substitutes for partners have started to satisfice enough to make people sit up and notice. Even as we become so blase about discussing sex in public, there’s a retreat that will only grow as virtual reality and robotics start to delay our sexual debuts, cripple our sexual vocabulary, and shorten our sexual impatience.

I mean, why go through all the trouble of dating, negotiating, and risking disappointment when you could always go home to your model 2021 Rebel Girl Mark IV, especially since you paid for the VR upgrade? With the contact lenses in, she can have any of a thousand starlets’ faces; when you leave the office, your phone will notify her to activate. By the time you’ve pounded down a Soylent and your Tesla has pulled into the driveway, she’ll be warm enough to convince you that you don’t need anyone else.

It’s a serious point, but:

1) Who is to say that sexual technology will falter at the “square, green, and crunchy” stage the way supermarket tomatoes seem to have done? It’s not obvious in either case that we can’t do better.

2) Elf says “retreat” like it’s a bad thing. But if the only people taking the trouble to have actual meat-on-meat sex are the people who love it so much they’ve invested a lot of effort into getting really good at it, what have we really lost?

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