“It’s not sex but it is sex,” says Regina Lynn, author of The Sexual Revolution 2.0 and a columnist on sex and technology for
I don’t know where the real user was located, but our virtual meeting space within Second Life was called “The Netherlands.” Or maybe “she” was really a he, controlling a female avatar. If it’s not clear already, “virtual sex” can be a little complicated.
Kimberly Young, Ph D, who is the founder and director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pennsylvania, agrees that virtual worlds can allow individuals to explore new types of sexual behavior.
In addition to STD-free interactions, Brathwaite says virtual worlds offer users the ability to explore sexuality in an anonymous environment.
“There’s no safer place to meet,” she says, “than in a virtual world.” The Internet can also be a boon for busy adults, Brathwaite says, allowing people to have social and romantic encounters online that they simply don’t have time for in conventional space.
Allowing separated couples to stay in touch, almost literally, is only one of the many positive aspects that virtual-sex advocates see in the refinement of — and increasingly widespread access to — cyber-sex technologies.
“One of the huge benefits is safety,” says Brenda Brathwaite, a veteran video game developer (whose credits include Playboy: The Mansion) and author of Sex in Video Games.
It turns out that pornbots are among the class of Eliza-derivatives that can pass a Turing Test (or rather, horny sex-chat boys are among the class of human beings that can't tell a chatterbot from a person -- other groups include psychotherapists, who, in one experiment, couldn't distinguish actual transcripts of therapy sessions with schizophrenics from simulated therapy with schizophrenic chatterbots; and the university student who mistook a chatterbot for his prof in the middle of the night when he IMed same for permission to extend deadline on a late paper).