Friday, June 2, 2017


     Normally, when I write about sex, I’m hoping to inspire and exhort the two and a half readers who deign to pay my emissions (so to speak) any attention. This piece and this one are typical cases. I hope they did someone some good, as I remember them as rather difficult to write.

     Not today. Today we get serious. Really serious. For today, The Writer in Black deposeth and sayeth:

     Sexbots are going to be big: Invest now.

     Used to be when I said that I was joking. Nowadays I’m mostly not. Mostly.

     We are rapidly reaching the point where there’s nothing a woman can do for a man in the bedroom that justifies the risk of what she can do to him in the courtroom later.

     Please read it all, including the embedded tweet-captures and the text in the pictures, and take it seriously. If WiB is correct, he’s forecast the end of Mankind. Yes, I mean that literally. And I will tell you why.

     I’m near to releasing Innocents, my twelfth full-length novel and the most difficult story I’ve ever tried to write. I’m not complaining about that, mind you; the creation of fiction should be difficult, and not just so millions of illiterate wannabes with word processors won’t get in on the racket. To create fiction one must create people, and give them intriguing problems the solutions of which are not trivial. In my particular lines of effort, fantasy and science fiction, those problems are expected to be presented in an original setting, and to be original themselves; otherwise you’re just echoing others’ works. Creating life in a test tube is child’s play by comparison.

     Here’s a brief swatch from the Afterword to Innocents, which, pace Tom Kratman, is a large part of the reason I wrote the book:

     Scientific knowledge is inherently morally neutral. So are the technologies it spawns. Atomic power plants can make cheap electricity that improves the lives of many millions. Nuclear fission and fusion can make explosives of unprecedented power, capable of ending millions of lives at a stroke. There’s no way to preclude its destructive possibilities without also losing its constructive ones.

     Once we learn how to do something, those with low motives will have the same access to it as those with high ones. So it is with both bioengineered technology and artificial intelligence. Since destruction is far easier than creation, it takes a huge majority of good people to outweigh the damage a far smaller number of bad people can and will do.

     But what harm could there be in lifelike robots who can bring sexual pleasure to a man unable to persuade a woman to grant him the same? By themselves, perhaps none. But cultural currents will play a part, too. The ones WiB has fingered are only the most obvious.

     Just yesterday, I asked the C.S.O., a fairly typical woman of our time...well, except for having bound herself to me, an error in judgment whose full horror she hasn’t yet grasped...“What reasons are there for Americans to have children today, other than wanting them for their own sake?” Between us, we couldn’t come up with any good ones. (The bad ones are easy enough to enumerate, but I wasn’t interested in them at that moment.)

     Children, you may recall, are a product of sex. And not just any kind of sex: sex between a potent, fertile man and a woman of childbearing years. None of the many popular alternatives to ordinary sexual intercourse will produce children. Ergo, if potent, fertile men stop having ordinary sexual intercourse with women of childbearing years, they’ll stop having children. Which brings us to an overwhelming question: What could cause that?

     It wouldn’t be purely a matter of fear of the legal consequences. The legal consequences are worse than they’ve ever been. That’s the case whether we’re talking about sex between (heterosexual) spouses or the unratified sort that seems to be somewhat more common. Yet men and women still marry. Some couples even have kids, though typical family sizes are historically small.

     Therefore, the fear of possible legal ugliness down the road isn’t yet fearsome enough to put an end to procreation by Americans. It’s being held at bay by other incentives and disincentives. But what are those countervailing influences? What if they should weaken and collapse – and what might bring that about?

     Give it some thought while I fix myself some decaf.

     I wrote here that:

     The fulfillments of sexual intercourse don't end with physical pleasure. They don't begin there, either. Though the language seems brusque, even a bit savage, the principal fulfillment to the man is that of victory: winning access to the body of his beloved. The principal fulfillment to the woman is that of agreeable surrender: the cession of her body to his, not merely for immediate pleasure but also in hope of a union that eclipses the physical connection. These satisfactions greatly overshadow the pleasures of the body, as does their continuation over time.

     The love of a man for a woman partakes of the wholly non-physical desire that she should grant him that victory. The love of a woman for her man partakes of the exact complement of that desire. Therefore, the most important of the incentives toward ordinary, potentially procreative sex is heterosexual love.

     There’s more, of course. Men are more idealistic than women. One of our ideals is the creation of a legacy: “something to remember me by.” (Note how many mass murderers undertake their horrors from an equal yet opposite motivation.) Throughout history, children have been a principal component of a man’s legacy. Though the economic aspect of such a legacy – i.e., the continuation of a family business – is greatly reduced today, the urge remains. After he and his wife are gone from the world, his children are the most likely to remember them...hopefully, in a positive way.

     Women feel that desire too, albeit in a more immediate, less idealistic sense: not principally as elements in a legacy but as “more to love.” If I may quote from the thought stream of a character in a recent novelette:

     I hope he finds someone worthy of him. Someone to make him a proper home, greet him at the door each evening after work, love him at night and give him children who’ll bear his name. Daughters she’ll teach about propriety and respect, romance and love. Sons he’ll raise to be men like him. He will. I can’t be that girl, but…he will find her. He must.

     That character was inherently unable to bear the children she hoped the man in her thoughts would someday have. (Read the story for details.)

     Therefore, a man’s desire for a legacy, and a woman’s innate desire for children to love and raise, are additional aspects of our urge to procreate.

     The inability to prevent conception, coupled to children’s earlier value as economic assets during one’s working life and security in one’s old age, have disappeared as considerations. Therefore, I maintain that should marital (and quasi-marital) love and the desire for children as extensions of oneself and one’s love weaken, so also would our inclination to procreate.

     I also posit that such a weakening is in progress, and is being encouraged by the darkest of the forces that work among us.

     Pleasure is not enough. I wrote here that:

     Maximizing pleasurable sexual sensation, as transient as such sensations are, has become the sole aim of many. In pursuit thereof, they eschew normal intercourse – with or without contraception – for cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, vibrators, electric stimulators, and other sorts of machine-produced thrills, specifically because the physical sensations are stronger than those available through ordinary coitus. This is “living for the moment” to an extent even I didn’t foresee in the earlier essay: a concentration upon sexual pleasure so complete as to forgo all other pleasures and satisfactions, including others of the body: Genital Nerve Endings Uber Alles!

     Advances in sexually oriented technology have only intensified my point. The desire for the physical pleasures available from sex will not be sufficient, in the face of the counter-inducements being made technologically available and the legal and social disincentives that synergize with them, to keep us having procreative sex. If love and the desire for children for their own sake should fail us – and there are plenty of “reasons” why that might happen – we will stop having generative intercourse in favor of the inherently non-procreative alternatives.

     That’s what makes the advent of sex surrogate robots, endlessly accommodating and capable of providing thrills beyond those of intercourse, so threatening.

     It’s a hard thing to feel sincere fear for a future one doesn’t expect to see...but it’s not impossible.


Joseph said...

If "sexbots" replace women for a large part of the male half of the human race (since they will be far hotter than most real females) then subsequent generations will be fathered by men who are less likely to pay attention to visual stimuli. In other words ... if you don't stop that you'll go blind!

Patrice said...

Those of us "Baby-Boomers" who actually managed to see a pregnancy "to term" - after all the propaganda shoveled at us from the late-1960's onwards - will certainly understand it when fertile woman of today Choose not to have kids. My biggest fear/greatest sorrow is realizing those same young women (my own "only child" included) won't figure out their mistake until they are old. By then their opportunity will have past, leaving them to become a living breathing lonely-cat-lady-meme.