Pioneering technology trying to replicate human touch

A Lecturer in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied has appeared on BBC radio to share his insights on teledildonics, a developing frontier in human intimacy.

Teledildonics is a branch of technology that develops high-tech devices for sexual stimulation. A key feature of the technology is the ability to control these devices remotely, using the internet to transmit commands to the devices in question. For example, we might use a smartphone or a smartwatch to change the intensity of a device – whether that’s done by ourselves or a partner in another location. 

The technology has obvious implications for human relationships, which have been explored in further detail by Dr Robbie Arrell. Working within the University of Leeds as a Lecturer in Applied Ethics, Dr Arrell’s areas of expertise include the ethics of love and sex, bioethics, medical ethics and moral philosophy. While speaking to Professor Ben Garrod on Discovery – a BBC World Service programme that explores scientific topics – Dr Arrell has laid out the potential of teledildonics going forwards. 

“There’s a sense in which we may be able to engage in sexual activities now that are between people who are spatially separated”, said Dr Arrell.

Despite the possibilities of the technology, Dr Arrell doesn’t believe that teledildonics will fully replace traditional human intimacy in the near future. “I’m not sure that I would go as far as to say that this will become the norm of how we negotiate sexual intimacy in our relationships. There’s a possibility that long-distance relationships may become more common, or that the time we spend separated from people might in fact become more common. We saw plenty of research that suggests that the sales of these devices went through the roof during Covid”. 

That said, it may be helpful to understand teledildonics in a broader context. “It will change love; it may change the way we love each other, it’ll change the way we relate to each other, perhaps. It won’t necessarily change the way, I think, that we value love; that’s going to be quite constant. It’s just another stage in the long history of employing different technological or biotechnological means to try to enhance love and relationships”. 

Further information

You can hear Dr Arrell’s comments for yourself on the Remote touch episode on BBC Sounds (listen from 21:40).

Image credit: Pixabay