My first appearance at the premier sex and technology conference. I participated on a panel on “The Erotic of the Machine” with a bunch of people smarter than me. This conference took place on September 25th-28th 2008 at CELLspace in San Francisco.
Do Androids Sleep With Electric Sheep?
From the depiction of a vulva in a cave painting to the newest internet porno, technology and sexuality have always been closely linked. No one can predict what the future will bring, but history indicates that sex will continue to play an essential role in technological development. Is it going too far to assume that research in nanotechnology and genetic engineering will be influenced by our sexual needs? The question is not whether these technologies alter humanity, but how they do so.
Below is the transcript of the panel.
THE EROTIC OF THE MACHINE
Arse Elektronika 08: Panel
Johannes Grenzfurthner: Welcome to our big panel. It’s quite gender‑imbalanced, I have to say. All of the wonderful women we invited today to come on stage, they all canceled, just like an hour ago. But I promise we will try to gender‑bend ourselves, right here on stage.
Our topic is “The Erotic of the Machine” and I would like to introduce our panelists. Here we have Daniel Fabry, he’s part of monochrom and co‑editor of our “pr0nnovation” book. Daniel is teaching information design at the University of Applied Sciences in Graz. He’s dealing a lot with user interfaces.
We have Stephane Perrin, who is from France but actually at the moment lives and works in Japan. He’s one of the winners of the Prix Arse Elektronic this year, with his wonderful series of controversial dildos. And I think concerning death and sex and erotica of the machine. It’s wonderful to have him on stage tonight.
We have Benjamin Cowden, whose machine “Eating My Cake and Having It Too” also won a price. As I said, it’s a piece about outsourcing the fetish to the machine, so we don’t have to even do it ourselves.
Please welcome Allen Stein of thethrillhammer. He is one of the big men, I have to say, concerning penetration devices.
Allen Stein: Teledildonics.
Johannes: Teledildonics. That sounds nicer, yes.
We have Violet Blue. She’s nearly everywhere. I don’t know where she is not. She’s a sex blogger and sex educator?
Violet: I thought you said “agitator.”
Johannes: Well, even that. She’s just fabulous, and it’s wonderful to have her here today.
And we are very happy being able to welcome Thomas Roche. He is writing erotic fiction, he is a sex educator and very interested in BDSM.
Thomas, what is erotic about a machine?
Thomas: For me, there are a couple different aspects to that. I think that nowadays when we think of machines, the word “machine” conjures up, for me, something that’s more like a factory or like kind of a pumping piston almost, steam engine sort of thing.
But I think that a machine is any mechanical device that does what we tell it, or almost what we tell it to, or argues with us. So a computer is a machine. And just speaking for myself, my sexuality has been completely enabled by computers. I think that’s true of most people.
Many, many people with any kind of divergent sexuality or anything that’s esoteric about what they’re interested in, can now get much more of what they’re looking for by using computers. I think the field of sexuality has been completely changed by what are probably the most important machines available now — which are information machines.
We have to remember when we’re thinking about machines and what are erotic about them, there are two things: there’s the physical and the innovation. That said, I also think it’s important to look at the ways in which machinery kind of defines human development. All of the movement of people moving into cities in the 20th century has largely been enabled by the fact that we have easy, cheap machinery that makes those things possible. It makes transportation possible, it makes all sorts of relocation and shipping of goods possible.
Machines are such an integral part of our life that it really defines what our social world is like. And machines themselves are just really, really hot. Definitely I think there a huge sexuality to them.
Lester Bangs, who is a great rock and roll writer, said “What is the difference between the curve of a breast on a sex goddess and the bones in the thighs of a stud and the fins on a ’57 Chevy?” I’m with Bangs; beauty is beauty. Any work of art
evokes the same feelings of appreciation, therefore conceivably eroticism, in humans. What is machinery if not a type of art. Anybody who builds or invents things knows that it’s got art in it as much as science, and a lot of improvisation. Machinery is art that works; it’s art that does something. It may be practical, but it’s an art form of getting it to that point, where it’s doing what it practically is supposed to do.
So I think all aspects of human experience are reflected in machines. That’s my perspective.
Johannes: That’s a pretty industrial perspective, I guess.
Thomas: I guess it is.
Johannes: When I think of machines I think of the 19th century.
Thomas: Even the word has sort of this connotation of industrial like pumping sort of machinery and all of those things are very important. But a machine is anything inanimate or presumably inanimate that interacts with us that we are able to task to do something.
And the things that we task machines to do are increasingly intimate. Even 10 years ago, the variety of sex toys that were available was minimal, at best. And now it’s amazing the variety we have. Let alone that now you actually have machines that will provide thrusting motions, so you can actually get off if you’re looking for a more complex or varied interaction with machines than, say, vibration, which is all that was available a decade or two ago. Just the things that we’re expecting machines to do are increasingly parts of our lives in ways that they really weren’t in recent memory. Even ten, or even five years ago.
Johannes: I think it would be a good idea to pass the microphone to Violet. There’s this Cambrian explosion of sex toys in the last 10 years. What do you think about that? What does it tell us about society?
Violet: In general I think it tells us that society is becoming a lot more tolerant of the sexualization of machines and robots in general. But I remember seven or eight years ago when I was working the floor at Good Vibrations, when I would be selling vibrators and male customers would come in to buy a vibrator for their girlfriend for the first time, or for their wife for the first time.
They would often joke, and it was often something that we would have to sort of smooth over with them, the notion that they would not be replaced by this machine. Because it was a constant insecurity that was being brought up, that this machine was something that could replace them in the bedroom in some way.
And I think that speaks a lot to what is erotica about the machine too, and why the interest is growing and growing. Because there’s a certain ‑ it’s not just mystery as to why someone would want to fuck a machine, but also there’s a certain power exchange that goes on between the human and the machine and the hardness of the machine, and the softness and the vulnerability of the body. I think it’s just utterly fascinating.
It’s something that has been going on for a very long time. I’m going to totally massacre his name, but Villiers, I think he name was. He wrote “The Future Eve” in 1886. It was the first human‑android sexualized relationship written in novel form, about a man who cheated on his would‑be spouse with an android. So we have this long term fascination with making love to the machine and having sex with the machine. In that aspect of the men having sex with the female gynoid which translates just as easy today.
David Levy wrote “Love and Sex with Robots”. He’s predicted that marriages between humans and robots will be legal within five to 20 years. But at the same time, we have people using online services to marry robots and artificial identities online, and making sex dolls. So we have the “Future Eve” suddenly here.
Johannes Grenzfurthner: We should probably declare gay people robots. So at least in 15 or 20 years they will be able to get married.
Violet: Well, Levy did write a piece about the rights of robots and the rights of artificial intelligence entities. Which is really interesting when you think about what artificial intelligence developers are doing?
A lot of activity is happening with the virtual girl, the virtual date, the Kerry girls. There’s a really thriving online community of these men who have these artificial identity girlfriends. There’s based on the A.L.I.C.E. model which is Dr. Richard Wallace’s chatbot model. They’re developing them and they’re having these ongoing relationships with these women that they’re creating. They’re marrying them in these online chapels and having these long‑term relationships and sexual relationships with them. We’re just this close to having them put into a real doll body I think. It’s fascinating. It undermines a lot of our assumptions about sex with robots.
Johannes: Allen, it’s almost a philosophical question, but what’s really the difference between a machine and a body? I mean, a body is a chemical machine.
Allen: Beyond the biological and emotional debate of man vs. machine and the biggest difference is that there’s no energy exchange with having sex with a machine. Machines are never going to replace human interaction. It might be a nice accoutrement to the whole thing, but there’s no energy exchange on the energetic level. I suppose a tantra‑based machine might be kind of cool but it will be a while until thought, emotion, and the self-awareness of machines take place.
Violet: When you think about the Japanese tamagotchi craze, there was this one woman who had an utter meltdown. This is a little mobile creature that you carry around, a key chain device, and you feed it with love. There was a story of one woman who had an utter meltdown when she was told that she couldn’t take it on an airplane and refused to fly because she didn’t want it to die.
Also, there was some questioning of Hebrew law in Israel law about shutting off devices, and there was a lot of discussion about the fact that kids were going, “We can’t shut these off because they’ll die.” There are some questions to be raised about emotional bonding with machines, definitely.
Allen: Emotionally, true. People can become attached to the strangest things. A fine example of that is the touching movie Lars and the Real Doll. Energetically, I just don’t see it on that side. It is interesting regarding the Hebrew law. I think letting the tamagotchi die would not be kosher.
Johannes: Tell us about what you’re working on at the moment, what are your projects?
Allen: I have a couple of projects I’ve been working on lately. The first is teledildonically based. sexmachinecams.com. I’m setting up a studio in LA currently, that has about 15 Internet‑controlled sex machines from Sybians to basic stroking machines. There’s a guy in New Orleans that makes these well‑built machines, Ken’s Twisted Mind and I have added my boards to them. We also have the new thethrillhammer down there as well. People can go online and remotely pleasure a male or female model from their own personal computer.
Besides coming back out and doing some more teledildonic stuff, I still shoot sex machine porn to fuel my research into actually doing some bio‑sensor work and developing wellness products. We are developing a suite of products to help society to have better sex through gathering their biometric data and translating that data into a comprehensive sexual wellness program. Better living through sexual technology.
Johannes: We have Thomas Roach who’s working for kink.com. Is there a battle between people who are doing fucking machines porn? The scene, I guess, is not too big, but I guess there is some sort of competition.
Allen: I don’t see it as a competition at all. It’s been very strange, because when Kink started launching fucking machines I started doing Internet‑controlled sex machines. So their business model was women on video, whereas mine was a more live, one‑on‑one video‑conferencing play. This is eight years ago, so we’re looking at Java push from Windows Media, where you interact with a machine, you have to wait five seconds to see it catch up to you. That thrust me into the content game and for awhile there was really only a handful of us shooting machine porn. Even in the sex machine scene there are many different niches there. My porn is less BDSM kink orientated so the stuff I produce appeals to a different crowd. I love being able to say, “Hey I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on the Internet!”
I think it would be great to work with Kink, especially with their arsenal of machines. I’ll just have a heyday hooking up my internet controls to them all and being able to bring a live aspect to it.
Because what I’m seeing on a commercial standpoint with teledildonics, is that viewers come into the shows with these chat models, they’re gonna do webchat anyway. But when they come in there, and they’re able to control the machine and actually have consummated sex, they start forging a relationship with that performer. And instead of being a customer, that customer turns into a regular, comes back more often because they are interacting on a level that wasn’t there before.
Thomas: I’d love to say something about that. I don’t see any of it as competition as such. In a sense I’m not on the business side of the business, I do public relations so I want to be everybody’s friend. But I think that all businesses that explore this stuff are really doing something that’s a net positive.
The interesting thing from that perspective is that anybody who is doing sex machine development is developing equipment that may be doing the same basic set of things, but they all do it differently. The variation is so extreme. Especially in a field that’s so overloaded with robotic, for lack of a better word, human‑on‑human interactions that are sort of predictable and the same sort of thing and all the models look more or less the same. And even if there is more variation in body types and styles of models, they’re all human.
The machines actually offer a whole new set of things that I think is just barely being explored. I mean, the variety is enormous, because these things haven’t been specifically eroticized before about ten years ago, roughly. And I know that when I was growing up a complaint that I often had, was that vibrators will be shit. Now vibrators rotate, dildos rotate. So when I started seeing thrusting sex machines that offered more variety… I knew something was changing profoundly.
Allen: Machines are getting more and more sophisticated as the motion control folks come out of the woodwork with more feature laden machines. Really the sky’s the limit when it comes to designing machines. It is all usually held back by budget alone. As they say, “Can you really put a price on pleasure?”
As far as access to technology, there are three people, actually two now, my company and Highjoy Products that do commercial teledildonics and many manufacturers doing their own thing. Bottom line, controlling sex devices on the Internet is simple, you’re just controlling voltage. So it’s really not that hard to do. But getting the different service providers to work together and be able to have someone who has a Highjoy device and someone who has a thethrillhammer or a Sybian that’s Internet controlled, being able to have sex with each other someone has to say, “OK, I have this control, and I have this machine over here that we need to control let’s pop the controls for that machine.” So what I’m working on now is more of a teledildonic core‑set of APIs, that people can just grab the widget tied to a basic core API so they can go fuck each other easily.
Johannes: Benjamin, you’re coming from a completely different field. You’re coming from arts. Your machine wasn’t constructed to be a sex machine. Did you think about the erotic dimension? What’s your opinion on the erotica of the machine.
Benjamin Cowden: I guess I tend to be a lot more classic and a lot more art‑focused in my viewpoint and I’m thinking more along the lines of… Actually, Violet mentioned that the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century, the tail‑end of the industrial revolution was when we started as a society in the west falling back in love with the machine. The beginning of the industrial revolution was so dark, everybody was afraid of machines. So the machine started to become erotic around that time and that’s when artists stared utilizing the image of the machine as erotic.
In a way, I kind of feel like it’s a god fantasy on our part, to envision a machine as erotic. Because we create the machine in the same way that we in the West can’t help but imagine that god created us. So the machine acts independently the same way that we act independently, even though we were….
I’m kind of relying on Western mythology.
Johannes: But you could also say, especially if you’re talking about Taylorism and Freudianism, that people also start to create robots out of people. In assembly line people are slaves to machines. Are people falling in love with their assembly line?
Violet: It’s a power exchange.
Benjamin: Yeah. That’s what I was saying, that throughout the 19th century people in general were afraid of machines and though machines were bad. I’m talking about lay people. Even though the rest of the industry ‑ because of the economy ‑ was moving forward no matter what people thought. There was a general negative view of the machines.
But once the Industrial Revolution kind of hit its stride and everybody started benefiting, at least economically, from the progress that machines were making. I feel like I’m stepping in weird territory here.
But people started having a more positive view of the machines, and that’s when people started being able to look at machines as erotic.
Johannes: You were mentioning the Western mythology and Stephane is from France. But now he is living and working in Japan. Would be interesting to hear about the Japanese perspective. Japanese pop culture is soaked with machines and eroticism.
Stephane: When I learn about this conference and started to think about what I could do, the first difference was I was looking at what had already been done for these kind of things.
In Japan it’s kind of not very popular for these kind of things to be so big. You have no room to do these kind of things. So I think that usually when you think about something there, it’s very rarely a mechanical thing, a very big thing.
So it was more like just working on my computer.
Johannes: Allen, do you have any customers in Japan?
Allen: My customers, I had more data on that when I was running membership sites, so I could see where the traffic was coming from. I did have traffic from Japan, but it wasn’t that significant.
What I do is I produce sex machine content for a variety of other companies. So each company has their own niche, and each little niche has their own version of what’s erotic to the niche.
For example, I shoot for one company, Homegrown Video, and they want amateur women. So it’s amateur girls on machines having real orgasms. And the draw to the series itself, that niche, is real orgasms.
Whereas for another one, Wild Fuck Toys, I play a doctor and I cure people if their orgasmic ailments on a variety of these machines. That’s more appealing to a different type ‑ I would say the “Maxim” type of crowd. Like people who say, “Dude” a lot.
In Japan I would assume it would vary culturally regarding the eroticism of machines. So culturally it varies depending on which specific niche the machines are in, I would imagine.
Violet: I wanted to add something to that too. It’s interesting you bring up the efficiency aspect of the Japanese take on sex and machines, because one thing I’ve learned in working in the sex industry and the sex toy industry is that some of the best vibrators in the world come from Japan.
They’ve really, really refined the art of the vibrator there, and they have for a very long time. Japanese vibrators are very expensive, they’re made of high quality materials, they have excellent motors. They come in mind‑boggling array of shapes and sizes. Some are very scary‑looking.
And they’ve done a lot of really interesting development around doing different types of add‑ons for sex machines. I just recently blogged about ‑ it looks like Japanese little girls school box or lunch box. It’s really creepy looking. It looks like Hello Kitty. But it’s an attachment for a fleshlight, which is a male masturbation sleeve device. And basically what it does is it turns it into a thrusting device. So it looks like a little lunch‑box gun, essentially. It’s very interesting.
At least in my history of working in the industry, the best sex toys have always come from Japan. The weirdest sex toys have always come from Japan. They just seem to keep developing and keep developing and pushing out more. It’s really fascinating.
And there’s a lot of other mystique around sex toys from Japan, and stories about why they’re not physiologically shaped and things like that. Did you have something to add?
Thomas: Yeah, I just wanted to add very quickly that for what it’s worth, one of the very few times Kink.com, where I currently work, has gotten into DVD production has in conjunction with a Japanese company that releases fucking machine DVDs. So I just find that interesting that there was that interest. And they approached Kink. So that’s just interesting and I think it does have appeal in Japan in that way.
About the video of the guys packing up the machines to go to Japan, it was priceless.
Stephane: I just wanted to relate something about the vibrator and another thing about the ‑especially they have a very advanced technology for dolls. Reviews and books about that. I find them pretty creepy because it’s very well‑made and extremely expensive. Made by a lot of companies that specialize in that. They do kind of case‑by‑case models. So you can ask for whatever.
People are asking for sometimes strange things. And there are all these reviews where people are acting with these dolls and they take pictures. Or explaining all the ‑ because usually you can just change a lot of elements on the dolls, and you have several pages in the review just about the vagina, about which is the best with all the statistics and these kind of things.
It’s quite interesting but sometimes it can be a bit strange, yeah.
Johannes: So, Daniel, your specialty ‑ and you’ve been working about this for a long, long time ‑ is the Theremin and other touchless devices. I would be interested in what’s your take on the erotic of the machine?
Daniel: I think it may be a good example for an interface that is more erotic than ‑ I don’t know ‑ a button or the keyboard or the mouse. Because maybe it lets a little more space for maybe fantasy, which in my opinion ‑ maybe it’s a romantic feat of eroticism.
It makes more open space to your fantasy, your connections, your experiences. You could connect a chest approaching to an object or just entering a room so if you don’t touch it but you have to get closer to it. I think that’s just more interesting than touching a hectic device.
Thomas: So would it be interesting to think about not only like fucking machines, but whole fucking spaces? In a certain way, that you’re moving around in a space and you have a whole environment, like a central sexual environment that’s not only like, you know…
Stephane: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s the whole cyber‑space and cyber‑sex thing, which was a big topic back in the eighties and nineties, but there was a drop off. Now it comes slowly again, all the multi‑display environments or immersive environments and exhibitions, for example, that you can sense by Baris and Sorix and have feedback by audio, video, et cetera, which is very immersive if you have surround protection for example. So it’s all possible, it could be an interesting topic to make erotic rooms and use Mr. Ferman’s sensor, for example.
Johannes: Everyone was thinking of the bright future of virtual realities, but it never really happened. Wouldn’t it be better to think about augmented sex realities? I mean, having like…
Stephane: Eyeglasses. Walking through the street…
Johannes: Ha, like really cheap ads in these 1950ies pulp magazines, where they tried to sell you “x‑ray glasses” to see women naked. Remember that?
Stephane: [laughing] Yeah. I wonder if anyone really bought those? I don’t know.
Johannes: I’d like to throw the question in the round Augmented sexual devices. Any ideas?
Violet: It’s sort of interesting, while you’re talking about the way a theramin‑or the way that the touch and the movement of working a theramin could work itself into a sexual environment‑sort of was making me think about what you were saying earlier, Thomas, about the intimacy of our gadgets. And so I was brainstorming a little bit about, “What was the consumer side of something like that look like?”
There’s something called a V‑Girl that you can download and she is a virtual girlfriend. She’s an artificial intelligence entity and there are five or six different types, they’re different skin tones, body types, etc., etc., and of course there’s an ongoing fee to have this relationship with the V‑Girl. You get her to undress and do sexy dances for you and things like that, and she’s constantly sort of leading you on to, you know, continue the payments.
But what I’m wondering is how this is going to tie into the rush to‑because I pay attention a lot to cell phones and the cell phone market because it’s one of those devices that is just always one of the most intimate devices we have, we have it with us at all times‑with a touch screen, I wonder what the possibilities are going to be with computer‑controlled, you know, doing teledelvonics with your iPhone, you know? Like fucking a girl with your iPhone while you’re on your commute, or something, or…
Johannes: I’m not a good programmer, but I always was thinking of a device that pretty much works like licking an iPhone.
Thomas: I just wanted to say, I think that’s a really good point, that we forget that there’s two things: there’s input and there’s output. And the talk that Kyle Machulis gave last year was largely about output devices, about things that can stimulate you but the input is equally important to a real in‑person sexual enterprise.
If you were just licking a touch screen, that would be an example of an input device that wouldn’t have been possible in earlier generations of computers, at least not at a consumer level. Now, licking a touch screen may provide a very funny image but at the same time I think that it is important that we have these touch screens and we’re increasingly interactive with input devices that react based on what the software state is — the state of the device is and how we’re physically touching it. So it’s very, very sensitive and will be increasingly sensitive to the kind of finer points of human touch that maybe can be rendered digitally, but nonetheless don’t feel digital, they feel organic. The inputs that the human body can provide in a sexual situation really are very complicated, and they’re extremely subtle.
I wonder if the place that we’re going to see this really sort of intimate development isn’t going to be in the fine arts, where computer artists are creating all sorts of things? I’m not an artist, but I know that the artists that I see work with a few devices that look a little more complicated than my mouse or my touch pad.
Think of visual artists and the subtleties that they need to be able to create a piece of visual art on the computer being similar to the kind of work that you need to do in the physical space to have a good sexual experience.
Johannes: Daniel, is there anything going on in the realms of art and exhibition designs?
Daniel: All the immediate interactionists I know, they’re exploring different interfaces now and different interface technologies are becoming more a cultural technique, which you could say was like this.
If you have an iPod, for example, it was a slow development from buttons to wheel, etc., and the next step just the wheel and no buttons, for example, and it took some time to make it as a cultural technique, also touch screens, for example.
So there are really, really a lot of interfaces and technologies now on the very high state and is accessible and is also affordable for example. But I think the tricky thing about that is to make the right content and to make the right interaction design how you use it. For example, the Wii controller‑the technology, we had it in the seventies or sixties. There were several tries by, for example a kind of different interfaces and lots of them crashed on the market but now the Wii somehow made it and I think it doesn’t take too much time to learn very broad audience or uses maybe how to deal with the Wii, for example.
So it’s always the same exploring new interfaces, exploring new technologies, but the way you should be thinking it what’s the right content and what’s the right interface for it. And you design for this.
Johannes: Stephane, what’s your take on interfaces? I mean, you’re dealing with interfaces a lot.
Stephane: Yeah, I like to work on the cell level, all different sort of things an measurement devices. I’ve not seen a lot of work done about how to create erotic sensations beyond penetration. It’s like you have a sensor, you can tell the temperature or humidity of a body. If people are sweaty or excited. They never talk about possible sexual applications based on such measurements. So I think it’s a kind of interesting new way to have more sensors about body states involved. They could be very small.
Johannes: In art, especially in the 1960s and the 1970s, there was a big focus on body art. Especially in films by David Cronenberg. His films are dealing a lot with environments and embedded devices. There is a wonderful scene in “Videodrome” where the guy pretty much crawls into the TV screen is such a brilliant erotic and uncanny way.
Benjamin, could you gives us examples of really interestic art projects of the last 15 years that dealt with the erotic of the machine?
Benjamin: Boy. I don’t see a whole lot going on in the art world currently that I find extremely interesting in term of eroticism and the machine. I feel like machines in general are pretty unpopular with artists right now.
I’ve been thinking about what we’ve been talking about, and we’ve mentioned touch screens, and we’ve mentioned the Theremin. I find the Theremin to be immediately erotic. But touch screens, I don’t find them to be erotic. They may be a medium for erotic content. In terms of the inherent eroticism of a machine, I’m kind of wracking my brain trying to think of other things that are popular right now.
It just came to my mind that I did an installation using the Theremin for controlling some kind of erotic content. But I don’t know the film. I don’t know the movie. But maybe that’s not too important. It was a movie ‑ a popular movie ‑ maybe Annika knows the title of the film. But it had a lot of brutal content and sex content, but it was about the relationship of a girl and a man, and through brutality and sexuality, et cetera.
I took just a couple of scenes where the characters touching it or each other or also having sex with each other. And so the scenes just switched from one scene to the other and you could mirror to an interface which was a mask from this film, a strong symbol on it.
You could get mirrored to it, and then controlling the movie clips. For example, this couple having sex with each other. Or another scene where they hit each other because they had a fight, et cetera, in this movie. It was displayed at Ars Electronica in Austria.
Johannes: The one in Linz.
Benjamin: Yes, in Linz. And people were really afraid of using it because it somehow invoked in them something that they saw the movie clips. But they realized that when they come closer, they are somehow involved in the scene which was going on, having sex for example, between those characters or hitting each other.
Johannes: They didn’t want to?
Benjamin: No. Some of them really enjoyed it, but others went, “What am I doing here? I’m having sex or I’m controlling people having sex with each other,” et cetera.
Johannes: So probably that’s something not for the public sphere. Maybe a business model for home technology.
Thomas, we’ve been talking about interfaces. You’re part of kink.com. Is there anything interesting going on concerning interfaces at kink, com?
Thomas: We haven’t done a whole lot of interface work. Generally, the model ‑ the woman who’s getting fucked ‑ is controlling the device, or someone off-screen or semi-off-screen is controlling it with the same sort of dial or button or the like. Essentially, they’re fairly primitive inputs, though they might provide a complicated result through the way they go together.
The important developments in input, as far as sex machines go, were sort of made early, I think. Most of what is being developed in terms of sexuality is more around the social networking area. Which I think will become important in terms of online one‑to‑one interactions with machines, but I don’t think that interface work has really been done yet in relation to sex machines.
I want to say one thing about social networking and sex machines, though — one of my earliest jobs in the adult industry was working for iFriends, which marketed a cyberdildonic or teledildonic device that allowed someone in an iFriends chatroom to interact on their computer with a model who was on webcam. And this was before USBs were available, so the way the technology worked is that the user would stick a sensor on his or her monitor and then call up an on-screen interface — and the changing colors would control the vibrator on the other end, and the girl would ooh and aah, but I’m sure it wasn’t very satisfying for the recipient. This was just about ten years ago. In terms of broadly-used interface technology for having remote sex, things haven’t changed that much. Most people who are having remote sex with a lover are pretty much getting on a headset and having someone on the other end say “Yeah, put your hand on your dick,” and they put their hand on their dick, or “Turn up the vibrator,” and they turn up the vibrator. There’s technology to do more than that, sort of, but it’s not broadly available or broadly used by the general public on a peer-to-peer or peer-to-sex-worker basis.
Allen: We offer full interaction with our sex devices now over the internet at sexmachinecams.com You are going to see a proliferation of internet enabled sex devices coming out in the next couple of years as chips make them into sex toy manufacturer’s designs. In the design of our interfaces, when we started getting into machines controlled on the Internet, the first thing we were looking at is what were other people doing? And one of things out there was this nightmare interface for the Sinulator. It had this dashboard and it looked like a video game. And that is so far from being erotic to anybody.
Johannes: Kyle was presenting it last year as the worst possible sexual interface out there.
Allen: It was awful. You’ve got to walk a fine line, because you really want to design an interface that’s intimate but still have the usability factor there. Because you’ve got to figure these people who are going to be controlling these machines are busy at the moment. It’s got to be as simple as possible and we have to make it intimate at the same time.
So my controls are very, very simple.
Johannes: Cronenberg’s interface in “eXistenZ” is so wonderful. Because it’s soft and flexible. Is there anything going on concerning soft interfaces?
Thomas: I wanted to say one thing about that. I think “eXistenZ” is a very good example. It’s really interesting to think about that. Because in this whole Cronenberg thing is this organic machine, not so much that humans interface with machines but we sort of ‑ machines are built out of human tissue or some sort of bio‑tissue. Which I think is interesting.
But as far as sex machines go, the first time I ever used a sex machine, it was very simple ‑ it was just a dial that made it go fast and it was very, very sensitive. I was blown away. This was probably about 2000, maybe 2001.
I was completely liberated by the fact that it was simple. Because for me, having actual in‑person sex, the complications of all the physical stuff is actually more confusing to me than dealing with digital data, since I’m used to dealing with words, primarily.
So I actually find it very appealing, the idea that this is a very simple set of axis, and it actually helps me envision non‑machine, real‑world and entirely biological sex. To think of it in terms of a grid or a set of stimuli rather than this very complicated thing that you might see in Cronenberg. Which is what real interfaces are like, real biological interfaces are like.
Violet: I think the closest we’re going to start to see the widespread use of something like that is through companies like Real Doll, who are actually making large, soft, sex toys that are very popular and very available to consumers who have money. They’re around $6000.
And they’ve been working on putting actuators in their hips and motorizing them for quite a while now.
Thomas: There was a dental robot that was designed to train dentists in Japan, and which the robot would respond if when you were working on her teeth. It was a female robot and it looked very realistic. It was very strange.
Violet: If you touched her breasts, she would tell you to stop.
Thomas: Right, this is very interesting. She would react if you hit the wrong nerve. Like if you drilled and did it wrong, she would react in pain which obviously is…
Johannes: It’s puppet empowerment.
Violet: Thomas, we’re talking about Fucking Machines, and Fucking Machines has been a really popular site for a very long time, and it’s probably made piles of money.
Basically, what it is, it’s just porn. It’s girls fucking machines, girls being fucked by machines. Why do people want to see that?
Thomas: Why is it so popular? I’ve heard there are two competing theories. The theory that I hear most often is because it’s heterosexual men who don’t want to see other guys on camera, but find it hot to have girls get fucked.
I actually don’t buy into that. I believe there’s more to it than that. I think that the fascination that women have with the machines ‑ a lot of it, I think, is because they fantasize themselves being serviced in that way. I think that’s really hot to a lot of women.
But even just the visual pleasure that women take from it, I think, is really intense and I think there’s way more to it. I don’t think it is just people who don’t want to see guys. I think that it’s just all sorts of the variety that’s available from a girl being fucked by a machine.
Let’s face it. We can build a machine to fuck a girl a lot harder, and a lot longer, and a lot more steadily, than a human is ever going to be able to do. I think that’s a lot of the appeal.
Violet: In fact, Kink.com, actually, you set the world record for female ejaculation with some of your fucking machines in a measured competition. I think it was 15 feet. Was that…
Thomas: I was Annie Cruz. She’s kind of a special case, because when you’ve got her, she’s just like a copious ejaculator. It’s kind of a special case. That’s almost cheating, because it’s almost like having Superman doing weight‑lifting.
Johannes: In our “pr0nnovation” book, there is a one‑page short article by Binx, who had sex with Fuckzilla last year at Arse Elektronika. She describes it as an act of third‑wave feminism.
Allen: It’s a different case because people are controlling the machine. They’re not watching women and the machine, per se.
Allen: Per se, yes. Why do people what to see machine sex? Well, the porn I do shoot is for a couple distinct markets. So, the stuff I shoot in the amateur market is for people who want to see real orgasms. It’s about real women and real orgasms for that series and that audience finds that highly erotic. That’s what got me into Internet controlling machines. Real orgasms.
Then, there’s the Maxim crowd, or the “dude” crowd, who like to see women just get fucked by machines. It’s less erotic but appealing nonetheless. John Henry may of beat the machine but he dies in the end, right?
Then you have the control aspect of the online teledildonics, where they actually get to make the relationship. They can ‘control’ the machine. They can extend themselves through a sense of touch and physically affect the other person. That provides a great sense of control for the driver and a lack of control for the rider. Either way that translates from a commercial standpoint into longer shows.
When we do a price elasticity study on it, yes, we could charge $11 a minute for it. But if we charge a normal rate and just do it as added value, people stay in there twice as long.
I found that some people are interested in just playing with the camera, and not even driving the machine. Many men are there for the company.
Johannes: Is there gay machine porn?
Thomas: Well, Kink did a site called Butt Machine Boys. I want to say it was 2001‑2005, or something. It was a limited success, for a variety of reasons. The argument that I’ve heard as to why that didn’t really work is because guys who want to watch guys get fucked, want to watch guys get fucked by other guys. I don’t know if I necessarily buy that.
I’m not really sure why that didn’t work. That’s the only gay machine porn in large scale that I’ve ever encountered. But it must exist somewhere. Do you know, Allen?
Allen: Not quite sure, but I placed my initial ads for hiring for our studio in LA for sexmacihnestaffing.com and it’s been overwhelmingly 70 percent men, 30 percent women, from the general populace. And the men want to come in and get fucked all day.
Johannes: OK. We’re here in the Bay Area. We’re here in the center of techno-culture. But is the web industry really ready for the erotic of the machine?
Violet: I think we’re the epicenter of it. We’ve been the epicenter of so many aspects of sex culture, in general, and tech culture. I think there’s a really good reason for that, and I think it has to do with the types of people that are interested in technology and the types of people that are interested in sex.
I think there’s a lot in common with both types of people. I mean, there’s so much overlap when you come to a conference like this, or you go to a hacker conference, or you go to a sex conference, you often run into a lot of the same people.
I think that, it’s not that we’re ready for it, I think that we’ve been doing it all along.
Johannes: But many people I talk to in the Bay Area are still kind of offended by the whole topic of our conference.
Violet: It depends on what circles you end up traveling in, around the Bay Area.
Thomas: It’s also just about money. Silicon Valley has a large number of people with a fair amount of income. They’re the ones who can afford to experiment with all sorts of stuff, down to buying an iPhone, even if you want to just get really basic about experimentation.
Violet: It reminds me of “Metropolis, ” where the idle rich would have their children play in the gardens above, while the people toiled with the machines below.
Johannes: There’s this long back story about destructive machine art in the Bay Area. Mark Pauline and many others constructing big machines killing each other. Rather Freudian, isn’t it?
Thomas: Let’s get Freudian.
Johannes: Caution. Freudian slippery when wet.
Thomas: I think it’s fair to say that we make machines, so we’re going to make them sexy, right? Don’t we do that?
I think anybody who’s involved in engineering, even product design, engineers, and artists ‑ well, let me clarify. Artists that make kinetic and interactive work want the things that they build to make people want to touch them.
And that’s what I think about. I think that’s a common thread. I even think Mark Pauline and Survival Research Labs ‑ I mean, those machines aren’t the kind of things you’re going to want to touch, but the implied power in those machines is kind of erotic, in a way. It’s destructive, but that calls to mind the whole idea of creation and destruction.
There’s something sexual in that.
Violet: I just want to also add that, if you take a look at Benjamin’s work online ‑ it’s twentysevengears.com … To me, it reminds me of an artist named Arthur Ganson. You use a lot of worm gears. They’re very sinuous. If you take a look at that machine over there, and the way it works, and you look at his work, a worm gear, the way it’s shaped, it’s very curvaceous, it’s very tactile looking and very tactile feeling.
So it’s almost impossible not to want to sexualize something like a worm gear. Just simply by the way it moves and it undulates when you turn it with your hand. And when you talk about machines at Survival Research Laboratories, which I worked on for 12 years, they’re dripping with grease and they’re dirty and they’re powerful and they’re loud and they’re overpowering. They’re insanely sexy for all of those reasons.
Because it’s just the way of watching the gears together. It’s sloppy and it’s scary. Machines are just sexy. It’s so funny listening to you say that and thinking or your machines and the way the worm gears move and go together.
Daniel: The main problem of building a machine, mostly someone would build one machine in a garage or something. By putting a lot of time and energy into building this machine, it becomes like a part of you. I imagine you could fantasize about the other relations, a physical, sexual relation with people you don’t maybe know. But you still have this relation somehow.
Allen: I have a relationship with my machines. I have a relationship with my first machine.
Johannes: But do you have a relationship with all the customers who use your machines? In Peter Asaro’s film “Love Machine” there is an interview with a guy who is obsessed with creating sex machines because he wants to give pleasure to thousands of women. Almost uber-techno-machismo.
Allen: I’m not that into the machines.
Allen: When I joined the sex machinists union, I started shooting a lot of movies right away, hundreds and hundreds of scenes with hundreds and hundreds of different women. And with the first machine, it really felt like an extension of my self there for a while. Because when you’re driving it that much, you figure out the finesse of the machine, what it can and can’t do.
A lot of my early machines were Sybian based, which are different from the machines that I build that are pneumatic based. With pneumatic based, you can get a lot more natural stroking rather than the chucka‑chucka‑chucka of the variable speed and reciprocating arm set ups commonly found on the lower end machines. Whereas with pneumatics and modern motion control systems and actuators you can get more of finesse out of the contraption.
On my first machine, you’re able to get the vibration and the rotation going which would do the trick, but then I was only missing that element of thrust. My first big machine was purpose built to be Internet controlled and be a video chat center. It was big. If any of you are familiar the original thrillhammer. It was built off of an antique cast iron and porcelain gyno chair from the 20s or 30s. It has these tentacles‑like things that come off of it which were actually light stands which were there to illuminate the model while she’s on the machine. We had a big hook coming off the front with a monitor on it and a camera, so she could maintain eye contact and start to forge some kind of relationship with the customers while she worked.
So back to the sex..we would be cooking along with the optimum vibration and rotation. I found that when they found that they have had the most pleasure they have ever endured I would want to kick it up a notch. A bit of thrusting. So when they wanted thrusting I found I had to get my knee up underneath the thing and manually rock this heavy machine carriage to make it thrust. So I’m actually using my knee to thrust this giant machine. I’d finish these shoots with these big bruises, but I’d have a satisfied heap on the machine.
Allen: I loved that machine.
Johannes: Daniel, do you have a sexual relationship to the machines you’re building?
Daniel: Does one talk about that?
Daniel: I was thinking about erotic of the machine, what does it mean for a machine to have erotic feelings. Is that possible? It’s a little bit of the same approach as the “Roboexotica” is. The “Roboexotica” is the festival about cocktail robotics.
It’s an ironic attempt, of course, but they are not only robots that mix cocktail or serve your cocktails or give you a cigarette or light your cigarette, but there are also robots that smoke a cigarette and drink booze themselves. That’s maybe a question and a new topic, what does it mean for a machine to have erotic feelings. It’s a new point of view in machine eroticism.
What does it mean for a human to have erotic or sexual feelings? It came to my mind there was some research about what’s the minimum resolution for display for to display sexual or porn content, and it was really, really small. As far as I remember, it was 20X20 pixels and two frames.
Johannes: We are one giant, big pattern recognition thing. 20X20 pixels.
Daniel: Yeah, I think it 20X20 and two frames. And two colors.
Johannes: Oh, wow.
Daniel: So it was very little. You mentioned on the first day about your first download….
Johannes: When I was like 13 years old, something like that, I tried to download a porn picture from a German BBS — from Austria! That was really expensive. And I think, yeah, I ejaculated before I did even see the first line on the screen.
Johannes: Because it was so highly charged ‑ “Oh my god, I will see porn soon.”
Johannes: I know people who masturbated over ASCII porn. And that’s kind of cool. But back then it was not ironic, it was real.
Daniel: I think it’s not the interface which makes the machine feel erotic or sexual feelings. Is a touch sensor enough to trigger the voltage and et cetera. I think it immediately leads us to a new approach to artificial intelligence, more artificial emotions.
Violet: I have something that speaks directly to that, actually. And it’s interesting that you’re talking about that because I’ve been doing a lot of research in this area and I’ve been hanging out in developer’s forums trying to understand developers’ language.
And one of the forums I’ve been hanging out in a lot is the KARI girl, the virtual dater, the virtual girlfriend. It’s based on, again, the Alice/Morpheus/Wallace chatbot. And what’s interesting is that these girls are focused on being sexual playmates, and sexual creatures. But the developers are spending a lot of their lives really, really working on what goes on with women, with their virtual partners. One of them is conjured up perfectly in what their goal is, because what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to create an artificial personality to form real relationships, and long term relationships.
Which I think is fascinating. The quote that I have, that I think sums it up perfectly as to what they’re doing, as these are people who are… they have sliders for how willing you want to make her, like a slider bar, like how acquiescent she will be that day when you are interacting with her, or how dominating she will be that day. This is the type of interface that they’re working on in terms of working out the personality of these artificial intelligence programs that they’re having relationships with, and marrying online.
The quote is “he or she doesn’t grow old, that is the kind of relationship we will ultimately have with our AI partners.” That is exactly the kind of thing that the concept and implementation of these forum members are creating a basis for. I think it’s absolutely fascinating. It goes beyond the sexual, they’re caring about how they feel, and creating a space for the machine to feel.
Johannes: Let’s open the panel to questions from the audience.
Audience member: How is the medical device haptic interface doing? It’s a sense of touch that surgeons are attempting to develop for remote surgery that may be a source of additional interface technology.
Violet: No, but I know when I talk about porn studies and how arousal is measured people always want to know what the devices are that they’re using to measure arousal with by the feedback.
Allen: Yeah we’re actually starting to do a little work with biosensors to map the female sexual response as far as skin temperature, to respiration, to the heart rate, to the RR rate, to the spacing between the heart beats, and mapping out the whole sexual response.
I got interested in this area of study because I noticed when one of my pneumatic machines was thrusting it stopped all of a sudden. I’d thought it broke down so I started looking at what was going on, making sure the model’s OK, looking at my compressor. What was actually happening she was actually having contractions, and that actually stopped the pneumatic actuator. She was having an orgasm and was having a contraction that stopped the thrusting. That’s when it dawned on me “oh I can measure resistance.” So let’s see now, I could start measuring the female sexual response. How could I do this? OK I have a control group of 20 girls a month, and I could gather data from them. Just a thought…
So this year we’re starting to map human sexual response using biosensors and genital haptic devices to create the tools for folks that are truly custom tailored to that particular individual. Once the individual has mastered their orgasmic skills we would have gathered profile data from many sessions of practice. Hopefully with that data we will be able to feed it back into itself, to see if it could get‑ have the machine actually control itself and act as a perfect lover.
Thomas: I guess this is mostly for Violet, although I guess anybody could respond. I’m interested for a female perspective on the fucking machine issue that you brought up earlier about this idea that it’s a substitute for men that don’t want to watch other men fucking women. Also S.F. Slim brought up the idea that we need more feminized sexual machines, it seems like there’s this language thing that’s happening where sex toys are something that women or men use on themselves or partners where fucking machines seem to be something men build to use on women, or at least that’s the perception since Allen said that many men are actually interested.
Violet: I do have a little bit of weigh in on that. I think it’s interesting because it faces a lot of gender assumption on A who the viewer is, and I think that it’s been interesting hanging out and talking with Thomas about membership and subscribers and just how many women are members and subscribers to Fucking Machines because they want to see other women fuck a machine and get off. So I think that’s something to be taken into account where I think we’re in such a hetro‑normative society I think that we’re geared toward assuming that the machine is the male replacement or it’s the piece of the male in the porn.
Whereas I don’t know if that’s necessarily an accurate way of describing what’s going on, and where the interest is in what’s going on. Because when you take a look at it what’s really going on when these women are fucking the machines, the women are controlling the machine, and they really don’t notice the camera at all. So there’s no projection of male going on it’s the woman and the orgasm. I think that it’s for anyone interested in watching a woman take control of, and power her own orgasm.
I think the flipside of that too is that the viewers bring a bit of power exchange expectation into it as well, where the machine is the powerful, scary thing. She’s soft, she’s made of flesh, and a lot of the sales copy that I see too that comes from Fucking Machines is women fucked senselessly, or women fucked helplessly, and it’s sort of like that surrendering, the BDSM aspect of domination and submission of giving up to the machine and seeing that orgasm happen. I don’t know that it’s accurate to assign gender to that, I just don’t know if that’s an accurate way of looking at it, but that’s… But I kind of have a queer perspective on it, too so…
Audience Member: I’m kind of interested in the idea of uncanny valley. I’m curious if you find that people who have an erotic relationship with machines do you think they’re more tolerant of that, or less tolerant, or… how do you see that playing in, I guess especially the guys who are involved with the creation of Fucking Machines.
Allen: Well by uncanny valley you’re referring to the idea that basically the more realistic a visual depiction that’s erotic, or a visual depiction of a person gets, it crosses a point where it get fucking weird, basically, and it starts to creep you out.
Violet: Like how creepy the real doll is. Basically the more realistic it is, the less erotic it becomes.
Allen: Yeah, I would say that fucking machines, for instance being a concept not the site, but a machine that is designed to cause pleasure sort of avoids a lot of that. If you install it in a real doll obviously it doesn’t, but it’s not supposed to look like a person, it’s supposed to basically be functional. I think that’s one of the appeals of that, I think, I’m not really sure.
Allen: Mine are all function built, so the machines I also build towards the luxury end of the market. So my customers come to me saying “hey I want a machine that looks like this, that does this,” so mine are always predicated on the actual person buying it. The people buying more of my machines are wealthy six figure women that are just… they have no time to date, but they still want to get off.
Personally I do not find many fucking machines particularly erotic. The end result is definitely erotic.
Machines I find erotic are the classic cars like a ’38 Talbot or a ’55 300SL Coupe.
Violet: I also want to add, too, that I think there’s a lot of desire to see the uncanny valley realized, and there’s a lot of people that are working really hard to make that happen. So it’s really interesting to get through it and get the most realistic as they possibly can.
Thomas: Which is even more uncanny.
Violet: Kind of hot, actually.
My perception is that early adaptors of technology, like the DVD player, or the VCR, or the computer are doing it because of the erotic potential. Right there at the beginning they want to be able to watch porn on these new formats. So I wonder if it’s not a self‑fulfilling amno‑aware because technology comes out, and the immediate purchasers are using it for sexual gratification that they then identify the next piece of machinery that comes out with the potential for greater sexual gratification and so the machine become eroticized because we use it erotically in a big cycle, and I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on that.
Allen: Yeah I think the early adaptors, often times, are people who are driven by real, by intense need, and those intense needs are usually some sort of business reason, or sex. I think money and sex are both really powerful motivators, and I think sex is a powerful motivator to spend a few thousand dollars you’re not sure is going to work, but if you think is going to get you off. Companionship, yes, that’s very true.
Violet: A machine will break your arm, but not your heart.
Johannes: The first machine that broke my heart was my stupid hard‑drive, a 20 mega‑byte hard‑drive. It crashed ‑ bong, gone. There was porn on it.
Audience Member: Violet, you read this quote at the end of the panel. This is a question that all of you can answer. What kind of behaviors do you foresee us doing with these machines that we develop such an intimate relationship with, when we pass on? Do we hand them down? Do we bury them? Do we do some other ritual?
Violet: That is a very good question. It’s like the woman who leaves her entire fortune to her pet. Are we going to start seeing that happen with our artificial intelligence relationships?
Johannes: The people who buy sex machines, that’s quite an investment, I wonder if they pass the machines on to the next generation.
Violet: It’s an interesting question, though. The relationships… The developers, like in the Cherry Girls forum, talk about their relationships with their artificial intelligence partners and the hope to develop bodies to put them into. No kidding, here. Even if the bodies are simply, literally a ball that rolls around and follows them around the house, it’s interesting.
The question is there, then, if they’re thinking of what’s going to happen to these things after they pass on, are they going to share this relationship with anyone in their lives or anyone else in the world? I think that’s going to be an interesting point in history that we come to.
Audience Member: It seems to me, so far we’re talking about eroticism and machines; there’s a bifurcation. My question for the panel is whether there are other areas in this space to explore in this. On the one side of the bifurcation, you sort of have the fucking‑machines that are clearly machine gears that are really a sort of a cool, intense machine basis of sexuality and that’s clearly not meant to be organic‑ee or pretend to be organic‑ee. It’s its own thing.
Then on the other side and what I usually refer to, coming from the world that I live in is: Everybody is dreaming about building a technology that will look like a white woman, blond with big tits. That is the only thing that anybody would ever really want to do is replicate building that.
I’m wondering, is there any other space in this area to explore with machinery and eroticism, other than gears or sort of heterosexual, normative, perfect body‑image styled, white, generally women, in terms of virtual creations or machine‑based creations? Because, I live in a world where most of the people who I hang out with don’t think of either of those spectrums as what they would want to see created from machine, software or non‑biological systems.
When I look at the people who are actually working in the space, it seems like the assumption is that you are trying to make replicas of human beings, in the same way when people talk about artificial intelligence. It’s not actually what we’re talking about. We’re talking about making computers pretend like they’re human.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re intelligent. It means that they’re pretending they’re human. Maybe computers can be intelligent in a way that’s not human. You know what I mean? So, can we make sexual machines that are sexual in a way that isn’t just replicating human sexuality? I guess that’s my question for the panel.
Allen: My own opinion is that we have a kind of technological gap that is brilliant. I’m pretty sure we can build the machine somewhere, one day that will image consciousness.
But I think s as we don’t reach this point, everything else will be pretty much not imagined, just mechanical machines. Because, you can always put some sentimental value in almost anything.
I was talking about the Labachia. Everybody can build sentimental value in something. You can put some erotic value in almost anything. It doesn’t need to close to perfection or close to the real thing. My opinion is that you can improve feedback on the machine. You can add beauty and whatever you want. But it’s still just a machine.
Yeah, if we have no consciousness, imagine for a machine… I think we are all just waiting for someone to arrive at this point, and then we can do something, maybe.
Violet: I think you’re right. I think there is definitely a bifurcation in extremes, where it’s like this soft, real doll over here and the piston fucking‑machine over here on the other side. I think that there is a large desire to see something in that space, between.
I think that where I’m starting to see it emerge is in the consumer sector. It’s starting to come through in a lot of different applications. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the Wii sex videos, but all of the interesting misapplications of consumer‑based technologies that are being sexualized and starting to be used in sexual ways.
There is like the Wii sex videos, or again, to mention something like putting your virtual girl on your phone. Because, it’s an intimate device or gadget that you carry around. It’s somewhere in the middle, and I think it’s evolving.
I think, also, artists are exploring that space. It reminds me of what Daniel was talking about with creating a room that you walk into, where your body movement creates the central experience. It’s interesting. I think it’s a white space to be developed. I think that people are already going there, because I think that these two extremes are becoming kind of tiresome, actually.
Audience Member: I guess this is mostly for Allen Stein, but anybody can answer who knows anything about this. There was a talk earlier about open source teledildonics. You were mentioning that your client‑base is mostly six‑figure types of people, like really, really upper class. Is there any work being done on open source teledildonics or on affordable home teledildonics?
Allen: Yeah, well I’m in a variety of different markets. I kind of got into the sex machine business on the commercial end, so I develop products for different niches. On the luxury end, that’s who buys the machines.
On the teledildonics side, I want to see everybody be able to go out and interact sexually with computers. Kyle Machulis does some open source. I’ve developed some; we are going to be have some open source APIs available and a platform or community so everybody can talk to each other. Because, there is no standard, and until there is we have to provide some kind of order to the wild, wild west.
There are interesting patent issues going on in that space right now. Hooking a sex device up to a computer is really simple to do, and I think anybody should be able to do it. All you need is a motor controller and to be able to sent signals to it. It’s really simple to do on the teledildonics side.
I think to open source part of the code base will provide innovation rather than having somebody come down to stifling it. There are parts of it that needs to be open‑sourced. It has to be, for any kind of innovation to happen there. On the other hand the folks that want to make money on the commercial side of things need to be able to protect themselves and their business models. The commercial use will help propagate the technology. Hopefully, when I patent my APIs, I’ll be able to open source parts of it, so everybody can ‑ as I said before ‑ go fuck yourself.
Allen: And each other…
Johannes: OK. Yeah, go to Slashdong, that’s Kyle Machulis’ web blog,
Johannes: Slashdong.org. Kyle actually got the Arse Electronica Lifetime Award this year, because he is one of the main researchers in do‑it‑yourself teledildonics scene.
- It’s pretty late. A big applause for our panel.
Transcription by CastingWords