Sex in the Machine

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Grech, Victor, Clare Thake-Vassallo, and Ivan Callus. "Sex in the Machine: The Ultimate Contraceptive." SFRA Review #302 (Fall 2012): pp. 15-21.[1]

From the Introduction

VIRTUAL SEX is akin to narcissism as in effect, such sex, without direct physical contact with another being or with an artificial intelligence, is equivalent to masturbation. [....]

Ennui in the face of the real world and lack of mating opportunities may ensue because of the spread of virtual reality environments which, to the individual, are more predictable, controllable, compliant, and hence more entertaining and satisfying than real life.

This paper will trace the development of sex toys from dolls to cyberspace, and compare this development with sex with robots leading on to sex in virtual environments (VR) within the science-fiction (SF) genre. An interdisciplinary flavour will inevitably intrude as the author is a medical doctor, and hence, real-life medical conditions will be mentioned in relation to this theme, where appropriate.

Victor Grech is a pediatrician and first named, so we infer, "the author," assisted by the second and third named. A quick Google search indicates he has a substantial and interesting ... oeuvre on Star Trek and other matters,[2] possibly noted in later issues of SFRA Review; but this is a point we will not pursue. We do note that the article comes with a substantial bibliography/filmography (etc.).

Works alluded to in this context

Lester del Rey’s “Helen O'Loy” (1938) / 
Mathias Villiers de l’Isle-Adam's work “Tomorrow’s Eve” (1886) / 
The issues of automatic contraception, robotics and offspring are elegantly depicted in [William F.] Nolan's “The Joy of Living" (1954).[3] Women are tempted by the makers of robots to care for mechanical babies [...]. Men are also targeted to buy a perfect mechanical woman [...]. (Grech et al. pp. 16-17) 

Mentions Asimov's The Caves of Steel and Robots of Dawn; more plausibly, "[...] Asimov’s “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (1951)[4] depicts a handsome male robot who realises that his married female owner has poor self-esteem, and in order to raise her standing among her friends and neighbors, he simulates illicitly making love to her by kissing her, thus demonstrating to the voyeurs (who do not know that he is a robot) that she is capable of attracting a handsome man [...].[5]

Also covered:

He, She and It and (following Donna Haraway)[6] its possible "sanitisation [sic] of sex, a common element in cyberpunk with its technological appropriation and misappropriation," and contempt by some of Gibson's cowboys for the "meat" world (p. 17). / 
Mr. Data in the Star Trek universe, including "The Naked Now" in ST:ND (p. 17);[7] plus androids that don't know they are artificial in "Inheritance" episode of Star Trek: Voyager and the classic Star Trek episode “Requiem for Methuselah" (February 1969)[8] — and the replicant Rachel in BLADE RUNNER (p. 17). / 
A Helen O'Loy-like possibility with the holodeck in Star Trek episodes "11001001" — cf. and contrast WEIRD SCIENCE (p. 17). CAUTION: This article may mislead on the Star Trek: DS9 episode, "The Forsaken." /
The Star Trek: Voyager episode, "Body and Soul," q.v. /  DEMOLITION MAN.

The article suggests (possibly with problems) that

The ultimate VR environments are explored in Moore and Kuttner’s “Two-Handed Engine” (1955), Knight’s “Semper Fi” (1966), Gunn’s “The Joy Makers” (1976), and “If I Forget Thee” (1977), and in Bear’s “Moving Mars” (1993). In these stories, humans increasingly turn to virtual reality environments and cannot be bothered to procreate, since in their fantasy worlds, sexual urges are easily satisfied and families can be created at will. Gunn, above, logically extends the search for happiness by having all of humanity forced permanently into a real-life comatose existence, with minds roaming at will in virtual reality, prefiguring “The Matrix” (1999).

With a confusing citation but interestingly — quotes from Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling's "The Asteroid Queen" (1990)[9] the dream, so to speak, of a sentient ship's-computer of creating "endless simulations of the universe" (Grech's phrase, p. 20); cf. and contrast Asimov's "The Last Question."

See elsewhere on the Clockworks2 wiki articles on sex toys,[10] virtual sex (with some misc. works coming up in the search),[11] and robot sex.[12]

RDE, finishing, 21Jun21, 26Jun21