It’s gonna happen – and probably sooner than you might think.
Sure, the idea of it, the basic concept, is frightening to pretty much anyone out there with genitalia … but the fact is that, indeedy, one day sex is going to die.
Now we probably should define what sex actually is. I’m not going to bore you – and me – by pulling up a dictionary but for the sake of simplicity let’s call sex “sexual pleasure that may, or may not, result in orgasm and/or procreation.”
As I’ve said more than once I’m not frightened of the future: in fact I like to buck the trend of reflexive snark about the coming years, decades, centuries to actually dare to look at what’s coming with hope and excitement – when accepting that “sexual pleasure that may, or may not, result in orgasm and/or procreation” is eventually going bye-bye.
The thing about the future is we can’t do anything about it: it happens whether we like it or not. Folks may have loved their radios but then TV came they flocked to it; when tablets threatened print publishing some may have moaned and whined but ebooks have already passed dead-trees by a longshot; digital photography made emulsion and paper fans gnash their teeth but aside from a few die-hard fans everyone has moved over to bits and bytes. We might scream, shout, or dig out heels in but in the end convenience, cost, and efficiency will always win out: you can’t stop the future.
Which brings us to sex. Now I like the horizontal mambo as much as the next kinky individual but, let’s face it, sex can far too often be a major pain in the ass – even if you like pains in the ass.
Even with the Internet, finding just a date is a major, and/or expensive, undertaking … and then you have the uncomfortable dance of hoping that Hottietottie378 actually likes to do the naked things you like to do.
And, yes, I do think we’ll be having sex with true robots—in fact we already are, though they are still a bit on the crude side. But, unlike what some might be hysterical about, robots won’t be the big nail in sex’s coffin.
In fact, what will be a big step towards a sexless humanity is just about here: some researchers are saying that we are only a year or two away from a female orgasm drug. This means that millions of women will finally be able to easily achieve wheeeeee! A male version, no doubt will be right behind this: in itself a massive innovation as men have been coming first for thousands of years (bad joke, I know).
I hear a few people out there bemoaning the fact that we will still need a human touch.
To which I respond: do we?
Aside from the pain of finding a sexually compatible companion, the odds on finding a person who meets our emotional needs is even more rare. But a replacement even for that, it turns out, is also around the corner.
Scientists are already hard at work on software that won’t just pass the Turning test but act as the perfect emotional partner. When perfected, it will never have a bad day, know just what to say, won’t have any needs of their own, and someday may even become a sexual partner that won’t be able to complete with anyone handicapped by flesh and blood.
Think this is too out there? Well, just think about the people who chat or email or Skype or even phone with everyday. I know I have friends who – honestly – could easily be clever software and, what’s more important, I wouldn’t mind if they were.
Then there’ll come the day when artificial reality gets convincing enough to completely push aside the real thing – or when we can finally be able to manipulate memory itself.
Far off? Hardly: a lot of people have already come to prefer their Second Life sexual encounters to the real thing. This kind of burring isn’t coming—it’s just about here.
So we’ll have artificial friends and artificial orgasms – what else needs to happen to kill off sex? We’ll get to procreation in a second, but first let’s talk about the dark flipside to chemical sexuality: in short, using meds to avoid sex.
Sadly, a lot of people see sex not as wheeeeee but as a problem. Yes, many of them have the nasty disease called religion – whose symptoms include shame and guilt – but others see sexual pleasure as an annoying distraction. Offer these people a pill that would switch off their sex drive and they’d take it in a heartbeat – and, worse, a lot of them would give it to their children.
Yes, I look at the future with hope and wonder, but this idea makes me toss and turn at night … though that doesn’t mean I think we can do anything about it: it’s going to happen, pure and simple. I only hope that these people will die off, though their enhanced productivity could very well mean that they won’t for a long time: having no sexual distraction meaning they could out-earn the rest of wheeeeee folks.
This also brings up another possibility: why keep orgasm linked exclusively to sex?
Think of it this way: perform well on a test? Rewarded with an orgasm. Sell 50,000 widgets? Rewarded with an orgasm. Walk when the sign at the crosswalk says walk? Rewarded with an orgasm.
Okay, let’s get to procreation – though I really don’t have much to add as artificial insemination has been around since (yes, you may gasp) 1884. These days it’s (yawn) so common as not to be even worth mentioning that the sperm, or the egg, that resulted in Junior came from donors selected for their favorable DNA.
It’s going to hang on for a awhile, but as sure as the coming of the ebook, the digital camera, the Internet, Viagra, and artificial insemination a time will arrive when sex will either become so widely diverse in meaning and practice that no two humans could ever come to an agreement as to what it means — or it fade to being just an artificially created chemical trigger in our minds psychologically linked to things like job performance or social acceptable behavior.
We may not like it. We may find it uncomfortable. But the future is inescapably coming: one day sex will suffer it’s own la petite mort.
In fact, it may not be around long enough to call us in the morning.
M. Christian is an author and anthologist working in a variety of genres including horror, sf, erotica hand crime. Much of his work combines sexual themes with the horror or science fiction genre.
Find him and his works here