One of the many successful elements of the film Avatar was the idea that a crippled, wheelchair bound marine, could live another life in a completely alien ‘avatar’ body – in fact a body more athletic and powerful than any able-bodied human. In the film, this is done through controlling his avatar body through the brain signals of his original, disabled body. Could this technology one day be realised, and could it lead to the ultimate forms of virtual sex?
An article appeared today on CNN asking only the first question, although I’m sure many of its male readers, at least, were led to ask the second question themselves. According to the article, the vision of Avatar is far-sighted, if not far-fetched. A neurology professor is quoted as saying that “the biggest challenges will be emotion and thought -how to make another organism think what you think, to feel what you feel”. Another points out that we have little understanding of how consciousness is formed in our own bodies, let alone how to induced it in others.
These arguments, although valid (and I’m in no way scientifically qualified to dispute them) seem to me to miss the point. Nobody is surely talking about actually projecting ones actual consciousness into another body. It will appear to the ‘owner’ of the avatar that he really is in that substitute body, but this is, at least in some sense, an illusion created by the fact that his sensory inputs and outputs have been wired up to his new body. If the avatar is destroyed, the owner is unharmed, however if HIS brain was killed, the avatar could have no consciousness.
There seems to me no philosophical objection to the possibility of avatar bodies. In fact, such things seem to be an inevitable future progression of teleprescence and haptic technology that is already being developed today (some of which is described in the CNN article). Eventually, we will be having sex with each other using substitute ‘avatar’ bodies.
The other interesting thing about Avatar in relation to virtual sex is the apparant manner in which the avatars are ‘grown’. In other words the Avatars are actual organic bodies that have either been cloned or produced using stem cell technology.
The use of stem cell technology for virtual sex is something that has interested me for sometime. The commonplace use of such technology to clone or to generate new organs appears to be just around the corner. How long will it be, I wonder, before the highly realistic private parts, as well as the skin, hair, and eyes, of high-end sex dolls will be the actual organic clones of famous pornstars? Fucking the Fleshlight vagina of Lupe Fuentes would take on a whole new meaning if it was the actual physical clone of her pussy, rather than just modelled upon it. It’s certainly likely that ‘Roxxy’ not withstanding, the first genuine artificially intelligent sex ‘robots’ will largely be composed of organic metal.