Human-Cyborg “Relations”

A.I. expert David Levy, the author of Love and Sex with Robots, expects that sex – or even an intimate relationship – with cyborgs will be considered perfectly normal within the next few decades:

“I believe that loving sex robots will be a great boon to society,” he says. “There are millions of people out there who, for one reason or another, cannot establish good relationships.” And when does he think this might come about? “I think we’re talking about the middle of the century, if you are referring to a robot that many people would find appealing as a companion, lover, or possible spouse.”

Spouse? “Yes.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty shakes his head:

The truth that Levy has lost is that healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person.

We also know this, instinctively. If the hand that is discreetly caressing you is revealed to belong to someone other than your lover, the pleasure the hand gives is instantly poisoned and felt as a desecration. We have words for bestiality, pedophilia, and necrophilia, acts where the sexual object lacks personhood. The existence of anti-fap boards on reddit, as well as the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem, is more evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people.

What healthy sexuality desires is a person. We don’t want mere sensations, but to be wanted and accepted by another. We want another persons’ conscious intentions for us acted upon our bodies, and for our intentions to be received as well. Lovers may use games that temporarily disguise consent and even pleasure itself, but their desire is to be freely wanted and freely given as persons, not as nerve endings. We call perverse those sexual encounters in which people intentionally and radically efface their own or another’s personhood.