Sex robots and VR: Here’s how digitalisation is changing our sexuality

SEX as we know it is about to change.

We are already living through a new sexual revolution, thanks to technologies that have transformed the way we relate to each other in our intimate relationships. But we believe that a second wave of sexual technologies is now starting to appear, and that these are transforming how some people view their very sexual identity.

People we refer to as “digisexuals” are turning to advanced technologies, such as robots, virtual reality (VR) environments and feedback devices known as teledildonics, to take the place of human partners.

Defining digisexuality

In our research, we use the term digisexuality in two senses. The first, broader sense is to describe the use of advanced technologies in sex and relationships. People are already familiar with what we call first-wave sexual technologies, which are the many things that we use to connect us with our current or prospective partners. We text each other, we use Snapchat and Skype, and we go on social apps like Tinder and Bumble to meet new people.

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These technologies have been adopted so widely, so quickly, that it is easy to miss what a profound effect they have had on our intimate lives.

It is fascinating to study how people use technology in their relationships. Not surprisingly, in our research we can already see people displaying different attachment styles in their use of technology. As with their human relationships, people relate to their technology in ways that may be secure, anxious, avoidant or some (often disorganized) combination of the three.

There is a second, narrower sense, in which we use the term digisexuals for people whose sexual identity is shaped by what we call second-wave sexual technologies.

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