How can we best prevent exploitation as our erotic lives intertwine with the digital realm?
The virtual reality platform AltspaceVR will soon host the world’s first VR wedding, Future of Sex contributor Alice Bonasio recently revealed on UploadVR. With Internet-connected sex toys—also known as teledildonics—this newly-wed couple could technically celebrate their honeymoon in VR as well.
The upcoming ceremony presents a favorable view of romantic relationships and virtual reality, which brings to mind the Black Mirror episode, “San Junipero.” In it, two women fall in love and start a complicated relationship. But the degree of complication is beyond our current comprehension.
Not only do they meet in virtual reality, but this particular VR world was set up for those who have died, or are preparing to die, and wish to upload their consciousnesses into the system.
Breaking away from the typical Black Mirror plotline, this episode remained relatively positive. It had a combination of all good stories: love, sex, and a little of bit of a conflict. Other than that, however, it was a peaceful—albeit virtual—universe. And while I certainly hope our own future might provide similar results, we must think ahead about how to build a positive sexual future enhanced by technology, one that’s not vulnerable to or supports harmful and criminal activities.
Questions of crime
It’s unclear whether we’ll actually reach the point of achieving legitimate mind-uploading, which addresses the dilemma of physical continuity. What is clear, however, is that virtual reality is quickly making room for the ability of users to fall in love. In so doing, this will also make room for other ventures—both positive (sex) and problematic (crime).
As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, whenever any great technology comes into fruition, criminal behavior is almost always lurking nearby. We all thought that amazing and great things were ahead of us with the birth of smartphones. And while many great things did come as a result, many terrible things were unveiled as well, e.g. the iCloud leaks of celebrities’ private photos and videos in 2014.
With virtual reality, we shouldn’t expect anything less—many great things, alongside many terrible things as well. In VR, people will be able to hook up with an abundance of people more than willing to have a late-night fling. It wouldn’t matter what you actually look like in real life; rather merely what your avatar looks like. The anonymity that comes alongside virtual sex will be a huge selling point.
However, that very same anonymity will also likely cause plenty of legal troubles as well. Imagine that you’re completely immersed in some virtual world. Your goal is simple: get laid. You find someone who’s willing to oblige and soon get down to business. You find it thrilling that you don’t know who this person actually is—their gender, what they look like, ethnicity, etc. Your virtual partner feels the same way.
And as much as I wouldn’t want to put a dampener in this sexual experience of yours, there are certain questions you’ll need to ask yourself before actually going through with this: for one, what is the other person’s age? With virtual anonymity, you won’t actually know.
Another question you’ll need to ask yourself is one’s own personal security. Not only could your private, virtual life be at risk of being exposed to the general public, but the devices of which you use to enhance your experience could be hacked in the process. Whether you’re using haptic body suits or have implants embedded under your skin to help you achieve an orgasm, what happens when someone hacks into these devices and takes control?
None of these questions, however, are meant to sway you away from ever using virtual reality—or technology, in general—as a means of enhancing your sexual life. Every great technology comes with great risks, and we shouldn’t be afraid of discussing these risks. Instead of allowing them to scare us into submission, advocating for the prohibition of the technologies listed above, we should begin considering ways of alleviating, if not altogether mitigating, said risks before they occur.
In doing so, not only will we not have to abandon these great technologies, but we’ll have made them potentially safer in the long run.
When it comes to ensuring that the people we hook up within the virtual world are of legal age, we’ll have to begin discussing ways of creating a system for VR that establishes a binding order of verification of a user’s identity. In the same way contract agreements are made, users who wish to partake in sexual adventures via VR will have to first prove their identity of which adheres to certain ethical standards, such as one’s age.
Of course, there’ll be people who’ll (rightfully) question the veracity of a user’s identity, not to mention question just how binding the agreement would be. To address this, we’ll have to rely on another emerging technology that will soon disrupt major industries across society, including law firms. This technology is known as the blockchain—a distributed database which operates under a peer-to-peer network.
To get a basic understanding as to how blockchain-based smart contracts will help address both the veracity and security of a user’s signed agreement, watch the video below:
As for the security of one’s devices, this is an ongoing issue that still befuddles engineers and users alike. Many believed that quantum computing might hold the answer to creating unhackable devices, given the fact that these computers rely on certain principles within quantum physics, such as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Unfortunately, this has since been proven incorrect.
Others are now beginning to apply other methods of quantum mechanics to address whatever errors are made in a quantum computer. For example, researchers have begun creating quantum teleportation systems which rely on the entangling of photons. As Wired notes in regards to this method, “Parties could encode a key into a pair of entangled photons and then each take one. An enemy that intercepted or stole one of the photons would be unable to replace it because the new photon would not be entangled.”
Once the parties realize that the properties of each measured photon no longer correlate, they’ll know they’ve been breached and act accordingly. This would ensure the security of each user’s device, but of course, like any great technology, a device’s encryption system is only as secure as those running it.
No matter what we do to address the possibilities of being hacked, whether we’re talking about our smartphones or Internet-connected sex toys, we cannot solely rely on even more advanced technologies, such as quantum encryption. With access to such advanced technologies, we must equally be smart users as well.
Be a smart netizen
In the end, the best way of staying secure is by being a smart digital citizen. Use passphrases instead of passwords; never write down login details or share your personal devices with others you don’t know; and never do something you might regret if, perchance, you were hacked.
We are certainly entering a brave new (and sexy) world. The future of sexual abundance is closely upon us, and everyone is welcome to the ride. And just like having sex here in the offline world, when you boot up and jack in, be smart and be safe.
Image source: UploadVR