XPRIZE’s $10M Contest May Transform Sex with Robotic Avatars

The field of teledildonics stands to gain a lot from new competition.

The renowned XPrize Foundation plans to kickstart the development of robotic avatars for long-distance communication with a $10 million competition—one that will likely open up tremendous possibilities for the future of human sexuality and intimacy.

Founded by Peter Diamandis in 1995, the XPrize Foundation is a non-profit that runs contests designed to promote technological and scientific advances that better the world.

The latest competition, the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, will award prize money to the top teams that create a multipurpose avatar system allowing the transfer of human experience and skills to places they are needed.

According to competition requirements, the robotic avatar system must enable remote seeing, hearing, and interaction with settings and people at least 100 kilometers away from the user.

Bridging the gap between distance, time and cultures

In a statement, Diamandis explained that having such an alternative to physical travel would allow “us to more rapidly and efficiently distribute skill and hands-on expertise to distant geographic locations where they are needed, bridging the gap between distance, time and cultures.”

As mentioned earlier, there’s a good chance the resulting technology could bring incredible changes to how humans experience sex, love, and intimacy.

Sex and the XPrize: teledildonics

There is growing mainstream interest in teledildonics, which is the long-distance communication of devices that exchange and send sexual touch between users. Most teledildonic devices today are in the form of haptic sex toys controlled through smartphone apps.

The ANA Avatar XPrize competition could give teledildonics a massive boost with significantly enhanced sensory quality and ease of use—a trickle-down effect gained from the higher-quality avatars developed as proxies for emergency workers and doctors.

More importantly, the ANA Avatar XPrize could allow people to experience, as Diamandis has already stated, other cultures with the added benefit of also giving people an opportunity to engage in sexual activities they might not be able to otherwise.

People with physical disabilities could also benefit from using the technology to give themselves added flexibility in interacting with the world and other people.

Then there’s the possibility that it could give users a chance to become something more than themselves. Couple this technology with, say, gynoids or other sex robots and people could experience what it would be like to be another gender—or even create their own hybrid forms.

Finally, there’s the idea that being able to become someone, or even something else, will help tear down prejudices by allowing people to expand their experiences and gain empathy.

Tech and our sexual futures

If this all seems like a stretch, keep in mind that Diamandis himself has already opined at Futurism about how technology will drive the next sexual revolution.

He has also stated that importance of not shying away from discussions how human sexuality:

“Sex is one of the most powerful, fundamental human drives. It’s caused wars and built and destroyed kingdoms. It occupies a significant percentage of most people’s thoughts. As such, it’s worth a conversation about how exponential technologies will change our relationship with sex.”

That we have the founder of such a the most forward-looking organization saying this is mind-blowing, especially in light of how people like Cindy Gallop are saying that the stigma against sex—especially women’s sexuality—is holding back what could the next technological wave.

While Diamandis doesn’t directly address his remote avatar competition in his article, he does expound on the impact of virtual reality. However, he’s more cautious than optimistic, writing there is a chance it could lead people to prefer the artificial to the natural.

He does end on a more positive note, mentioning the sexual potential of VR and a remote robotic avatar system, especially for disabled people.

“Perhaps a bit of intimacy (if even technological) for those who are infirmed, aged, crippled and thereby alone,” he wrote.

Will sex and pornography fund the future?

While Diamandis’s article is not exactly positive and ends with a somewhat ableist tone, he does conclude with a prediction on what will finance the future of tech.

“One thing is for sure: as with every technology in history, from the printing press to VHS and the internet, pornography will be on the front line funding the advance of technology.”

Image source: XPrize Foundation