Is being attracted to robots a new sexual orientation?
Remember the French woman who claimed she was engaged to a 3D printed robot she had designed, or the Chinese engineer who performed a marriage ceremony with a robot wife?
In a fascinating new story, the New York Times reports that a growing group of people identify themselves as "digisexuals" — a provocative term for people who are attracted to robots and artificial intelligences, rather than humans with flesh bodies and biological mind.
Academics have started to grapple with the concept of digisexuality, the Times reports. In 2017, researchers at the University of Manitoba and the University of Wisconsin-Stout published a paper that explored that rise of the concept — and the technologies that enable it, from automated sex toys to robotic sex dolls that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
"What they’ve been into is sex tech, toys they can control with their tech devices, that attach to their penis or their vulva," said Markie Twist, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and co-author of the paper, in an interview with the Times. "They haven’t had contact with humans, and really don’t have any interest in sex with people. This is what they want to be doing, and if they could afford a sex robot, they would."
The Times report — which comes alongside more disturbing coverage from the paper about people brutally attacking robots — includes a whip-smart analysis of the trend that contextualizes the notion of digisexuality on a spectrum of behaviors that are already considered normal.
"Whether the notion is absurd, inevitable or offensive, it raises more than a few questions," Times reporter Alex Williams wrote of the phenomenon. "For starters, in a world where sex toys that respond and give feedback and artificial-intelligence-powered sex robots are inching toward the mainstream, are digisexuals a fringe group, destined to remain buried in the sexual underground? Or, in a culture permeated with online pornography, sexting and Tinder swiping, isn’t everyone a closet digisexual?"
READ MORE: Do You Take This Robot … [The New York Times]
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