The following is the speech our Executive Director, Mal Harrison, gave at TOA Berlin on June 21st, 2018.
Take a minute and look around this room.
Who here are you drawn to? Who here do you think is hot or interesting or inviting? And who here am I drawn to? Is it you? You? And which one of you will I choose to take back to my secret lair and ravage tonight?
It's a beautiful gift, the skill of scouring a room to perfect the art of selecting a mate for tonight, a weekend fling, or for life.
Eroticism is an infinite continuum of every moment, every experience, every emotion that makes up the essence of who you are and why you're drawn to who-and what-you're drawn to. And it's not just about sex, either. Our eroticism extends to food, music, art, literature, and yes-even technology.
Imagine yourself as a cliff by the ocean. Every day, the waves and the weather work to shape your cliff. This is how our experiences shape our eroticism over the course of a lifetime. But we have something the cliffs don't have-a brain.
I have spent the majority of my life researching desire, love, relationships, and sex. And of course, putting it all to test and practice!
Human beings are hardwired for connection, belonging, and to pair bond. But pair bonding, in the way humans behave and the brain is hardwired, doesn't necessarily require or prescribe monogamy in terms of sexual exclusivity. In fact, monogamy is not a natural state, but rather a choice we make to make life less complicated.
Neuroscientists and anthropologists—more specifically Dr. Helen Fisher—have shown that we've evolved three different brain systems responsible for mating and reproduction: one, the sex drive; two, feelings of crazy intense wild romantic love; and three, feelings of profound cosmic attachment with a long-term partner. These three brain systems, combined with many other parts of the brain, orchestrate our sexual, romantic, and family lives. But they are situated way below the cortex, way below the limbic system, in the place where we generate and feel emotions.
They dwell in the most primitive parts of the brain, linked with craving, energy, focus, motivation, wanting and drive. In this instance, the drive to win life's greatest prize: a mating partner. These systems evolved over 4.4 million years ago amongst our first ancestors, and technology is not going to change them, much less, sextech or sex robots.
But that's not to say sextech isn't awesome or not needed in our world! When most people think of sextech, they think of vibrators or VR porn. But let's take a quick look at some of history's best inventions in sex tech! Fire, most certainly had to be the first one, providing a warm ambiance for igniting sex. Then along comes vulcanized rubber, patented by Charles Goodyear in 1844, with the first rubber condom being produced in 1855, and mass production by the late 1850's. Fast forward, and suddenly women have access to the birth control pill. Can you imagine the hysteria in society, at the thought of these brazen wild women screwing whomever they wanted with no consequences? We saw similar hysteria ensue years later, when porn went mainstream on the internet. I was at Yale Sex Week several years ago, where I witnessed anti-porn activist Gail Dines declare to an audience of students, that if their partners watch porn, it means they're cheating on them. That must make me a serial cheater!
Sextech can be defined as any technology that advances our sexual and romantic experiences, and it's estimated to be worth $30b by the year 2020.
This could be anything from a period tracker app like Clue, or the Elvie trainer, which I'm a huge fan of, because you wouldn't run a marathon without training, so why give birth without training? It also includes dating apps, teledildonics (remote control toys that can be operated from anywhere in the world), haptic technology, VR expanding from mere porn to erotic playgrounds with hologram technology, VR extending into sex education and sex therapy, and as expected, more technologically advanced toys for singles and couples, such as Amorelie's Moqqa Reef or Unbound's new toy Bender. We're seeing AI being integrated in toys that can measure and react to pulse rate and body temperature such as the OVibe