A few weeks ago, I attended the 2013 International Workshop on Clinical BMI Systems. While the bulk of the conference talked about ways that scientists are creating brain interfaces, or systems or robotics that can be directly controlled by the brain, for clinical purposes, one of the attendees made the following observation: “Many of these technologies are already being used. They are just being used in video games or for entertainment purposes.”
The line came back to me when I saw a recent post by Damon Brown on the Future of Sex blog. Brown referenced Mary Lou Jepsen’s recent TED talk about how functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can “read” thoughts—or rather link patterns of brain activation measured with fMRI to a specific image that study participants were imagining. While the science itself is interesting, Brown takes the idea a bit further:
This technology has two clear impacts on the future of adult entertainment. First, directors may be able to make films by simply visualizing the scene in their heads. Traditional films will obviously need to be interpreted by human actors, but animated or virtual experiences could be created solely in the auteur mind. As Jepsen noted in her talk, now it’s just a matter of improving the quality of the software.
Second, users may be able to create an avatar or supporting characters literally based on their imagination. Imagine a virtual reality experience like Sinful Robot, but instead of choosing from a set of predetermined players, it actually develops a unique character based on what the user is thinking about.
In her TED talk, Jepsen said, “Imagine if we could leapfrog language and communicate directly with human thought. What would we be capable of?”
I’m not sure that brain-tailored porn is what she had in mind. But that is one of the possibilities (and one that does not require FDA approval). Add in some brain-controlled robotics or toys and you have a brave new world of porn.
What do you think? Will advances in neuroscience change porn—or the way we have sex?