The Mechanics of Mechanophilia: Why Men Find Siri SexyPosted: November 15, 2016 | |
We all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?
Gareth May writes: How would you feel if you walked in on your flatmate pouring his iPhone a glass of Cristal and remarking on her exceptional ‘wallpaper’? Open mouthed and curious, right? Well, welcome to the future. For some technophiles at least.
Apart from neo-Luddites, we all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?
A survey from 2012 revealed the extreme level of attachment many of us feel towards our gadgets. It found that three-quarters of the 2,500 people polled said losing a personal device would give them more anxiety than losing a wedding ring. Another from 2016 discloses that nearly 40pc of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than their co-workers, parents, children or friends.
Of course, such interactions could be simply checking the time – and if you started calling your friends to do that they’d think you’d gone batty – but what these stats betray is the shaping of an emotional bond between man and machine that seems to be growing year on year.
“People use things in a sexual way all the time. You could name any object, from a radiator to a tin can, and there’s someone out there that gets sexually aroused by it.”
Sci-fi programmes like Humans, depicting the trouble caused when overly lifelike AI get mixed in with the rest of society, may be fictional, yet our relationship with tech still gets closer and closer. Quite alarmingly close.
Virtual assistants (VA for short), also known as personal assistant A.I.s, are digital secretaries that can schedule meetings, order meals, play audio and visual files, and assess online accounts. Not to be confused with ‘virtual assistants’ that work remotely and are actual people, current VAs on the market include Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and, of course, Apple’s Siri.
“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually. Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”
— Steve Worswick, an expert in the field of digital A.I
Last month, in an interview with The Times, Illy Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, creators of a virtual assistant and satnav known as ‘Robin’, said that 5pc of interactions in their database are classified as “clearly sexually explicit”.
Trawling the Internet for evidence of the above I discovered a Reddit forum titled: ‘I masturbate to Siri and I feel disgusting’. The poster says he’s a 20 year old male, who started talking to Siri sexually as a joke before realising that “it really turned me on.”
The phenomenon clearly has farther reaches than one sole forum post. VA creators and chatbot companies predict such interactions and put algorithmic safeguards in place to deter feelings of emotional and sexual attachment from costumers.
Earlier this year one of the key writers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Deborah Harrison, revealed at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” regarded Cortana’s ‘sex life’ adding, “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”
Steve Worswick is an expert in the field of digital A.I. He’s also the leading developer of Mitsuku, a family-friendly online chatbot.
“Mechanophilia: love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”
He told Telegraph Men that he used to have a banning system (five strikes and you’re out) for anyone who attempted to have sexually explicit conversations with Mitsuku. However, he received so many emails from people who wanted to treat the bot sexually, that he removed the strike system and instead programmed Mitsuku to either ignore sexual requests, say something to steer the conversation to other topics, or simply insult the user.
Worswick believes men are using Mitsuku in this way and seeing bots as “sex objects” simply because they cannot fight back, have no legal rights, and are not going to judge them or contact the authorities or their wives or girlfriends.
“With this in mind, the men can act out their deepest, darkest perversions with no fear of repercussions,” he said. “To be honest, I would rather they took out their sexual frustrations on Mitsuku rather than upset a real woman with this. At least the bot is an outlet for them instead of subjecting a real person to this abuse.”
So will such interactions become more commonplace?
“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually,” he said. “Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”
Professor Mark Griffiths, is a Chartered Psychologist and lecturer at Nottingham Trent University with an expertise in cyber-psychology and the psychology of sexual behaviour.
He defines mechanophilia as a “love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”
Could the men using Siri and friends in this way do so due to a fetish?…(read more)
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