Earlier this year, Elon Musk’s ambitious neurotechnology project, dubbed Neuralink, successfully made a monkey play Pong using only its mind. Claimed to assist people who are paralysed from brain or spinal injuries—while restoring senses in those who are blind or deaf—the technology uncovered the potential quicker brain-to-computer interactions have to offer in the foreseeable future. “We wouldn’t be limited to the QWERTY keyboard anymore, instead, we’d be able to send messages at the speed of thought,” Jack Ramage wrote for Screen Shot at the time.
But what if you could take things up a notch and turn someone on at the speed of your thoughts? I’m talking about long-distance mind-gasms—not only with your significant other, but with 300 consulting adults hooked up to a computer-interfacing orgasm algorithm.
With vibrators capable of tracking your Uber Eats delivery and keeping up with the stock market—while getting ISO standards for quality and safety themselves—it’s safe to say that masturbation has witnessed a technical revolution as of late. So is the case of arranged orgies. Remember when the innovative sex toy company Lovense organised a Twitter orgy back in May 2021? Using the Lovense Remote or the Lovense Connect app, members could link their toys up to the internet and experience different vibrations every time someone tweeted or retweeted one of the selected hashtags.
Brain-interfaced ‘crowd orgasms’, however, challenge the technical boundaries of pleasure backing such arranged orgies. Leveraging brain implants or sensors, such interfaces will tap into the pleasure centres in the brain—thereby bringing participants to new orgasmic heights and allowing them to experience the euphoria of one or several people at the same time. Intense, right? What’s more is that the concept doubles up as a source through which futurists can explore the potential of both brain-to-computer and brain-to-brain communication.
“The first step is to help partners access and stimulate each other’s pleasure centers, which will be a fundamental platform for remote sex as well as engaging together in the one room,” Ross Dawson, a leading futurist, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, wrote for Future of Sex—shortly after presenting at one of the largest tech conferences in Europe on the topic of ‘The Future of Crowds’. “What is possible beyond that is for crowds to interact and engage to stimulate each other on a massive scale. Perhaps we will find that orgasm between a couple will be the richest and most powerful experience. Or possibly, it will turn out that orgasms created by crowds will be on a different scale to those between two.”
According to Dawson, a crowd orgasm could be an expression of collective consciousness and intelligence. In an interview with MEL Magazine, the expert highlighted several developments that aid the possibility of the concept. “A while ago, we achieved direct brain-to-brain communication, and since then, we’ve achieved multi-person brain communication,” he said. “These were cognitive communication, which could enable collective intelligence.” However, Dawson added how there has been a relatively lesser focus on pleasure stimulation—the closest being Musk claiming that Neuralink could “enable pleasure through the release of brain hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine, that are also associated with orgasms.”
In short, we’ve figured out how to communicate with each other with our brains—minus the vocals and physical intimacy which are typically required for the medium—but we are yet to explore how this could translate to conveying emotions like horniness.
A trend report by Future of Sex loops such brain-to-brain sex interfaces to the rise of human augmentation—all the while questioning the concept of Sexnet of Things (SoT). “As more objects are becoming connected to the internet, so will our bodies—as people begin using chips and sensors with their brains and genitals to track and improve their sexual health and fitness,” the report read, adding how AI will then be capable of coaching users with tailor-made tips on their sexual performance.
According to futurist Scott O’Brien, one day it might even be possible to read your partner’s brain waves remotely with a neural headset. “While your lover is at work and you are doing the groceries, you could get some insight into what their mood will be at home that evening,” as Future of Sex puts it. Reading and aligning with your partner’s brain waves could not only foster deeper connections but help build empathy and proactiveness in a relationship. This could undoubtedly translate into spontaneity—a factor that we’ve been hunting for on dating apps throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then comes the entire application of the coveted concept for those faced with mobility challenges and other chronic pain. Targeting the pleasure centres of their brain not only offers them the promise of new sexual experiences but helps them stay connected with their partners and climax without any body movement. “You could share very real and very erotic sensations with your minds,” Future of Sex summed up. “And as technology advances, you could do this a world away using similar headgear or even brain implants.”
As for people sceptical about the privacy issues that generally tag along with such technological inventions, O’Brien envisions the advancement to work on an opt-in basis. The expert thereby stresses that no one could access your brain waves and patterns without your permission. Although that specific concern is yet to unfold, the ultimate thought of controlling someone’s orgasm with your mind is, in fact, mind-blowing. With brain implants currently letting paralysed people write with their minds, the concept could redefine teledildonics and remote sex.
However, this also pushes one concerning thought into the forefront. Erogenous zones and orgasms are simply the product of chemicals firing in the brain. If scientists can replicate that feeling by initiating signals from an implanted chip or a headset, would it mean the end of physical sex altogether? With gen Zers currently witnessing a ‘sex recession’ in the age of Tinder divorces, it’s safe to say that physical sex might not be their first priority. Being the generation least concerned with how Big Tech uses their data, however, they wouldn’t mind sacrificing their privacy for a bit of technical pleasure.
The rise of the teledildonics industry, also known as connected sexual pleasure products, creates new fun ways for us to pleasure ourselves and our partners, with inventions such as vibrating Wi-Fi-enabled butt plugs and webcam-connected dildos. But teledildonics, just like everything else in our modern age it seems, are another privacy nightmare ridden with security flaws. Since 2018, there have been a number of reported hacked sex toys, and the most recent case makes me wonder: should we go back to good old non-connected sex toys just to avoid them getting hacked mid-sesh?
Evidently, I’m not the only one. Most recently, a woman had her butt plug hacked and controlled while she was presenting on stage. It later turned out to be a stunt designed to demonstrate to the audience just how susceptible these devices are to getting hacked. This incident sparked a frenzy as people feared it would happen to them. Not only would having your vibrator hacked be very strange, but it would also be done without your consent—just like the data-collection techniques that are used by Facebook, Alexa, and most technologies.
In 2017, a man called Alex Lomas walked around Berlin and had to use only his phone in order to pull up a list of Bluetooth discoverable Lovense Hush butt plugs, ready to be hacked, just to manifest how easy it was. Last year, SEC Consultants looked at sex toys from Vibratissimo and demonstrated how they could be broken into by hackers not only to “remotely pleasure” people, but also to access owners’ account details. Even more worrying, a Wi-Fi-connected dildo’s internal camera was found to be easily accessible.
What can be said about hacking sex toys and consent laws? Because these are quite uncharted territories, we don’t know just yet what to do when someone hacks a sex toy or its data. In some countries, such as the U.S., laws that define what constitutes sexual harassment or assault vary from state to state. In many countries, the law is still vague about the definition of assault and sexual harassment. In the U.K., sexual harassment is defined as: “unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, and creates a hostile or offensive environment.” The lack of precision surrounding sexual harassment and assault laws prevents us from taking concrete action in the event of a sex-toy hack. Worse yet, we don’t even know whether our data can be hacked into and stolen in the first place.
While the aim of this article isn’t to inspire anxiety and ignite a global wanking paranoia, it should force you to sit back and ask yourself, “What are the privacy implications of using a Bluetooth-connected sex toy?” Last time we ignored such concerns we ended up with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Trump as the President of the U.S., and a moronic Brexit. Even though hacking sex toys isn’t yet defined as assault or sexual harassment, it may very well be regarded so once lawmakers start tackling the issue. In the meantime, maybe it’s worth dusting off the old non-connected sex toy hidden under your bed and relieve the stress with some alone time, if you know what I mean.