Tech's real driver is back in pole position

It's a race to the top -- or maybe the bottom -- as tech's once and future pioneer takes its rightful place at the head of the pack

Tech's real driver is back in pole position
Credit: iStockphoto

Some weeks see little or no advancement in the human condition. During these times, scanning the media for headlines promising a brighter tomorrow yields only election hyperbole, debatable research findings, and social outrage. Then weeks like this restore my optimism for humanity’s future, bring wonder to children’s eyes, and would make DaVinci dance in the streets if only he weren’t so very dead.

What has me crowing this week? SteamVR’s room-scale virtual reality experience? Pshaw! The new AWS cloud compute instance? Please! No, this week saw the resurgence of a tech sector long at the forefront of this country’s greatest advancements, but fell quiet in recent years, so much so that most of us Really Advanced Analysts thought it would never return to technology’s bleeding edge. How wrong we were.

When it comes to tech innovation and the betterment of humanity, you heard it here, folks: The sex industry is back on top!

Let's start with the networked French bikini, otherwise known as the e-kini. Though it’s not a sex-industry project per se, it still cradles key components of the business sector while simultaneously using technology to improve lives. In this case, it informs its wearer when it’s time to re-apply sunblock, thus saving countless lasses from melanoma and increasing revenue for chiropractors who’ll see a marked uptick in cases of whiplash among beachgoers.

Real bots

But now we move on to the sex industry proper with two landmark events. First, Mr. Matt McMullen justified his parents' investment in his college education by taking his RealDoll product, a life-size, custom-poseable synthetic (read latex-based) love partner, to the “next level.” Apparently, he kidnapped some engineers from Hanson Robotics, signed them to employment contracts, and now has them working on Project Realbotix, which will advance the concept of the love doll to the “true android stage.” In his case, that means more humanlike movements and audible voice responses.

Hats off to McMullen and all his future perv-omers for driving an extra wedge between mainstream humanity and the truly socially challenged and/or the epically lazy. Also, here's a freebie and a future classic from the literary mind of Cringely Robotics Lab, LLP: “You realize the NSA’s watching, right?”

But the biggest announcement this week comes not from the robot industry, but from the last great frontier. That’s right, get set for …

Poooooorrrnnn iiiinnnnn spaaaaaaaccccccee!

In a move that is absolutely brilliant in an only-in-America sense, Web “media” company PornHub is partnering with adult film studio Digital Playground to crowdfund an adult feature to be filmed entirely in space, dubbed “Sexploration.” Let me be clear: I can think of no better project on which to lavish your personal investment dollars than this noble enterprise, which can do nothing but help the future of space tourism, rocket technology, and the reputation of the American business community. Do not miss out on this.

Fortunately, you have plenty of funding options, one to fit any budget and shame level. On the low end, the Pluto-level donation ($1) gets you a frameable certificate of participation/perspiration/perversion. Or you can splurge on Uranus ($150,000), which gets you one of the two spacesuits worn by the film’s stars complete with, ahem, undergarments. There are many more stomach-churning funding options in between with names like Assteroid, Black Hole, and Apollo 69, among others.

My only concern, or at least the one I’ve decided to focus on, is the funding figure. PornHub seems to think it can pull off the production for $3.4 million. Given that the last space tourist in 2009 paid an estimated $40 million, I suspect PornHub is planning more of a suborbital tryst than an actual space voyage, and it doesn't fully understand the terms. The company’s expertise is, after all, concentrated on sheet meat, not astrophysics.

Meanwhile, the crowdfund page is throwing around words like “anti-gravity” and “intergalactic” as descriptors for the project, so this is a justifiable question. Perhaps the group has sourced out the project to Halliburton or Takata and didn’t read the fine print; perhaps it's only sending up two “sextronauts.” Regardless, the costs should still be higher, based on historical estimates.

PornHub needs to figure it out because a near-orbit flight generally provides only two to four minutes of space-style weightlessness, which would seem challenging even for an experienced and professional couple, especially considering the lack of leverage they'll likely face. Alternately, PornHub could be planning less an adult feature film and more a smutty video short.

No word on when this important project will commence, though the company reported more than $10,000 in donations on the very first day. Hopefully we won’t soon read about the tragic crash of two adult film stars who were trying to achieve orbit in what they thought was a $3 million surplus NASA shuttle but was really a Cessna single-prop someone sold them after painting the NASA logo on its tail.

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