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Teledildonics, Marriage, Regulations and Robots Giving Consent

Teledildonics, Marriage, Regulations and Robots Giving Consent
The world of teledildonics is developing rapidly – perhaps too rapidly in some parts of the world. What does this mean for the institution of marriage? Should teledildonics be stopped and is it possible to marry a robot?

Dr. Kassia Wosick, Assistant Professor of Sociology at El Camino College joins the program.

The patent for teledildonics expired in August of this year, opening up the possibility of rapid new development of this area by a multitude of different developers and providers. What does this mean in terms of the development of this branch of the sex industry? Dr. Wosick says that the new situation presents an opportunity for people in the sex industry to have a conversation about what they want to focus on. However, she does not feel that it is going to be "free for all" as there will be some internal regulation — within the industry — in terms of what people are ready for, what they want and how to create it. "I think we are still grappling with some of the big cultural questions about what it is that we are able to develop, how this will impact people's sex lives…"

Host John Harrison asks whether the teledildonics market is something that can be regulated, given the nature of the interconnected globalized world we are living in, and the same time the absence of global regulating authorities. If there should be regulations, it is worth establishing what kind of regulations there could be. Dr. Wosick asks the question: "What is the definition of regulation in this context? I think this goes back to the fear of moral sex panics and the arguments that this will lead us to sexual chaos if we don't control it. I go back to look at how the concept of marital sex and traditional intimacy has been challenged over the past 100 years by technology… There has already been a conversation going on that we are uncomfortable with, and then we bring new technology into this discussion, and we want to regulate that because of fear of sexual chaos. But I am not sure what we are trying to regulate exactly…"

John Harrison argues that there actually is no real debate about this in the general public, and if there is, it is not in all countries. Dr Wosick says: "I think that there is a niche market which appeals to the tech-savvy consumer and if you have a sex industry that has shifted gears a bit, and providing products that meet demand from a diversified consumer base, you have younger people who are getting in touch with their sexual selves, and this has happened in the United States, but I think that this has happened elsewhere as well…."

There are many new areas which need to be discussed, such as — is it right to be in relationships with objects, and can we marry robots? Dr. Wosick says: "We can be excited about the new sexual fluidity, but we go back to some really simple fears about marriage, monogamy, commitment, and intimacy. These are part of the human discourses that we have been having over the past several centuries."

The question of whether teledildonics means human-to-human communication or whether it is human to machine as well is discussed. Dr. Wosick indicates that the area is open for discussion and has not been properly defined as yet. "We still have to discuss where we are drawing these lines in terms of the kind of sex we are having with teledildonics….Sex involves many different areas, such as smell, sexual and emotional aspects, so as we find ways to expand this technology. We are doing this is non-sexual contexts all the time, with our computers and our phones and our machines…"

In terms of marriage, Dr. Wosick says: ‘Marriage has legal, social and religious contexts. We have already played around with the legal level, and so as we think of the evolution of marriage and what it means. Why do people get married, marriage is important for people who are in a particular relationship — we challenge that with gender, with the number of partners, with polyonomy, with insurance law, and with a myriad of other factors. Consent is a huge area of marriage, so the question is: Can a robot give consent? Can an object created under this framework of teledildonics give consent?…Love in marriage is a fairly recent development, our ideas of contentment and a contract. …I think it is possible to marry a robot. Whether it is probable and permissible in a social and legal context, this is what we are really talking about. Again, it comes back to fundamental questions about love, sex, and intimate technology. These are conversations that are definitely part of our present and will definitely be part of our future."

Clearly, the world that teledildonics opens up is something that we can pretend does not exist. It already does and will become more prevalent the world over. It is equally as clear, after listening to this program, that there are still huge areas, which need to be discussed, to help us come to terms with the use of this technology.

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