Culture

Welcome to your future sex life

Birds do it, bees do it, robots do it. Turned On, a CNET special report, explores the fascinating intersection of technology and sex.

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Warning: Some language and descriptions in this story aren't suitable for younger readers.  

Your sex life's about to get a lot more interesting.  

Maybe you'll buy a walking, talking robot and program it with a libido to match yours. Maybe you'll slip on a wearable that delivers data on your thrust velocity. Or maybe you'll get extra bold and follow the example set by one modern lothario who modded his penis to turn himself into a human vibrator.

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Even if you're good with old-school human-on-human action and don't see the need to quantify your bedroom performance, you live in a world where sexbots want your body and you can caress long-distance lovers via computer-controlled toys. Turned On, a CNET special report on the intersection of sex and technology, will traverse this fascinating new frontier.

Why are we cozying up to this crazy little thing called sex? Because technology is shaping all aspects of how we live and love, and sex is as integral to the human experience as breathing, sleeping and, quite possibly, posting cat GIFs to Tumblr.

We kick off our series with a story by Ry Crist, a CNET appliance reviewer in Louisville, Kentucky, who traveled to Southern California to visit Abyss Creations, maker of RealDolls silicone sex partners. He wanted to find out what it's like when faux humans that can be customized down to their freckles get outfitted with an AI that lets owners direct every nuance of their personality too.

Ry saw some eye-opening sights on the factory floor, including bins filled with stunningly lifelike synthetic body parts, and robots with blinking eyes and moving lips that randomly ask "How big are you?" -- among other questions -- to total strangers. He also came back with some poignant stories. One RealDoll owner he spoke to shared what it meant to purchase a doll after losing his wife of 36 years.

"I was lonely," he said. "Now I'm not."

Can a robot ever provide true companionship? It's one of the questions Ry explores.

Over the next few weeks, we'll also look at how close we're getting to the futuristic sex portrayed in science fiction (spoiler: romps with extra-terrestrials still appear to be a ways off) and how the digital age is changing the way we learn the naked truths of sex. We'll ask sexperts, like prominent author and advice columnist Dan Savage, for their thoughts on how our tech-obsessed culture is influencing carnal behavior.

Oh, and we'll talk to the penis modder.

Strap yourself in. (Or is it "on"?) It's going to be a wild ride.