The robotic bride. The orgasm ray. The sex machine.
These classic tropes of science fiction – how fictitious are they really?
Hybrids of sex and technology are flourishing in contemporary culture, from basement workshops where power tools are lovingly repurposed into bedroom aids to sexual media empires with genres devoted solely to robot-human couplings. The medical sciences have even gotten in on the act with models of sperm-powered nanobots.
Technology and sexuality have long been intimately connected, each inspiring innovation in the other and nowhere is this more striking than in the fields of teledildonics (computer-interfaced sex toys) and sexual robotics. The mechanical in service of the libidinal is rooted deeply in our cultural consciousness.
So just how close are we to having a real life Data, the beloved android from Star Trek as fawning partner to our eminently human Tasha Yar? Will we be able to disable our foes with weaponized orgasms? Can you learn to love a robot? Can a robot learn to love you?
Join researcher Laura G. Duncan for a multimedia lecture on sexual technology to find out. With examples from popular media, the medical sciences and actual sexual robotics projects, this talk will work to explode the dichotomy between the “natural” and the “technological” and open a critical analysis of how society conceptualizes sexuality, science and even the body itself.
Laura G. Duncan is a sexual health researcher, educator and writer currently living in Brooklyn. Her research is in the field of medical anthropology and focuses on the influence of medicine on social and individual understandings of sexuality, as well as issues of health care literacy in underserved communities. She has taught sexual health education in a variety of academic, non-profit and community venues and is currently a student and full-spectrum doula. She is, disappointingly, not a robot.