1983’s sci-fi movie Brainstorm featured a device that could record an individual’s physical sensations and emotional feelings, and transfer these onto a tape-like medium, so they could be shared with others.
The more mundane experiences of rollercoaster rides, high-speed chases, etc., inevitably give way to one of the human being’s most basic instincts: the sexual urge. Soon, the device becomes the catalyst for more thrilling, daring, and ultimately dangerous experiences on the fringes of sexuality and death.
Technology and sex have been closely intertwined throughout history. The use of the former to enhance the latter can be traced back thousands of years. You might have heard the apocryphal stories about Egypt’s quintessential beauty queen Cleopatra using a hollowed-out piece of gourd filled with bees to gratify herself. Probably not true, but a good, inspiring story all the same.
And so the story goes from the historically implausible, to the downright bizarre, and everything in between. From Victorian torturous-looking, steam-powered devices designed to induce pleasure, to modern-day USB aids and silicon-based toys, the world of sex has always looked at technological evolution for its next thrill. But there’s always a what next question floating within the realm of sexuality. What’s the new frontier to be crossed? What new sensations lie ahead?
And so the cycle of technical innovation to enhance human sexuality continues with blockchain, a relatively nascent technology with a decentralized twist.
Blockchain’s role in fostering relationships
Blockchain technology has often been described as a solution in need of a problem. Blockchain has been around for just over a decade, which may sound like a lot, but it’s really a mere drop in a bucket in terms of technological evolution. Blockchain does have a long way to go before realizing its full potential.
Up to two or three years ago, the use of blockchain was restricted as the technology underlying cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin et al. But slowly, the tech has found its way into other industries like shipping, automotive, aerospace, etc.
And just like in Brainstorm, these mundane and strictly professional applications of blockchain technology are slowly giving way to more social and, shall we say, personal purposes.
Establishing lasting relationships in today’s world is something of a Sisyphean task. One must work tirelessly at it, only for the relationship to fail for one reason or another, sending everyone back to the bottom to start all over again. Dating apps like Tinder have warped the dating scene, creating a definite bias towards a certain social echelon. Not only that, but the amount of fake profiles seems to grow exponentially with every passing month. In other words, one can never be certain of who we are chatting to. And worse still, apps like Tinder have one fatal flaw: A centralized nature. Tinder regulates the platform and does as it sees fit. In other words, what Tinder wants, Tinder does. The users are just along for the ride (or lack of it).
Blockchain technology features some inherent traits that may herald a new era for dating applications. Immutability and transparency, for instance. Blockchain creates environments where data is shared while remaining anonymous. And the data that is shared is visible to everyone and verifiable on the chain, which helps reduce the number of fake profiles. More importantly, data is immutable, so it cannot be tampered with.
Blockchain is of course not a magic dating bullet. Users will not be able to establish solid relationships just because they participate in a blockchain-based dating app. But at least users know that—a) their data is secure; b) the profiles they see are legitimate; and, c) records are immutable and auditable. The relationship part, well, that is very much down to the laws of human attraction, and that is beyond the scope of blockchain or any other technology, for that matter.
Sex on the blockchain: Breaking the boundaries of reality
Sex is, for the most part, a private endeavor. Most people want to keep this aspect of their lives away from prying eyes, be it for legitimate or illicit reasons. But this is not always the case.
The spectrum of human sexuality is as varied and infinite as the constellations in the night sky. For many people, privacy is not such a chief concern when it comes to sex, seeking enjoyment, satisfaction, and fulfillment instead.
Blockchain may stand at the vanguard of a second sexual revolution, this time relying on technological advancement to nurture new sensations for the human user.
One of the oldest axioms in the economy is that sex sells. It sells stories, magazines, media, and of course, toys. The sex toy industry is certainly worth a pretty penny. The global market is forecast to grow to around $29bn by 2020 . With all that money up for grabs, blockchain technology offers a great opportunity for business.
The forbidden blockchain fruit might soon be ripe for consumption by the most adventurous out there, in the form of sensory-enhancing devices that enable remote sexual interaction with the perception of reality.
Let’s take a moment to delve into this concept. What makes reality real? Well, according to Morpheus from that revered piece of cinematic history that is The Matrix, “if you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know.” Such an explanation, while simple, is perfectly acceptable.
The concept of reality goes well beyond such boundaries though. It’s the perception of reality that truly matters. What’s real for you (your experiences, dreams, visions, etc.) remains a fantasy for me, and vice-versa, as I will never attain or experience what you have, or what you have seen or dreamt about, and the same can be said about you. Throw in a set of experiences designed and molded by a computer system, and the concept of reality becomes rather slippery. In this age of turmoil and technological decadence, reality indeed is in the eye of the computer. As Morpheus said, ‘welcome to the desert of the real’.
So this new generation of sex toys might provide a version of sexual interaction that may feel real to the participants by means of state-of-the-art technology such as haptics, creating remote sexual experiences using blockchain as the carrier.
The sexual landscape of the future: A decentralized fantasy
Always in motion, the future is, according to Master Yoda. In simple words, we cannot tell what’s going to happen tomorrow, and hence this conclusion is purely speculative.
The decentralized nature of blockchain and the integration with technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, together with future advances in sensory technology might combine to create a global playground where people can ‘meet’ and indulge in their inner desires and fantasies, without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes.
One could argue that such a level of technological advancement might lead to the dehumanization of sexual activity, and that is a valid point. Sex is a great means of communication between people, and the bond that keeps a relationship together, so turning sexual interaction into a mechanized activity might create its own issues. But these are arguments for a follow-up piece.
Blockchain in itself does have the capability to open up a brand new world of possibilities in the realm of human sexuality, and as they say, the best is yet to come.
Article by: Fernando Sanchez