Can Sex and Tech Become a Mainstream Business?

Wired has a very interesting article about a new game called VirtuallyJenna (Warning: The site is NOT work safe). Sex businesses are interesting because in addition to the normal problems that all companies face, they have to deal with social acceptance issues as well. But read what the Wired author had to say about her experience with the game.

I've always said that I am 93 percent straight. I couldn't care less who people sleep with or pair off with, and I appreciate female beauty as much as anyone. That I had such a hard time stroking animated breasts is testament to how powerful the fantasy can be.

That's why I think that of all the enhancements planned for VirtuallyJenna, the fetish room will be the biggest hit. Abram describes it as a place to explore fantasies you would not enact in real life, or that you are too shy or afraid to suggest to a partner.

In that sense, it will be like cybersex: a safe place to play that is realistic enough to engage the imagination and convince the mind that you are indeed having the experience.

The essay I am writing for the MoreSpace project talks to some extent about the power business has to drive change in society. But increases in technology are pushing us to a point of change that many people are morally and philosophically uncomfortable with. Regular readers of this blog know I believe that we will build conscious machines someday and that I think society will struggle to accept that. But how will society deal with this game? Or better yet, how will society deal with this game when it is taken to the next level? Will it challenge our concepts of fidelity?

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I assume that most of you don't consider it cheating to fantasize. A little flirting might be ok too. But if it moves beyond that we consider a partner unfaithful. Yet technology will provide the opportunity in the future to have amazingly realistic sex with a partner you can design for yourself. Is this cheating? On the one hand you will be hooked up to a machine, but on the other, your senses will be stimulated as if it were the real thing.

Technology has helped society progress so far, but can it acheive success in an area that has traditionally been off-limits? Will there really be businesses built around sex and technology? Or will our attitudes make us reject them? Future business leaders will increasingly have to address these difficult issues.