A new study on the future use and effects of self-driving cars is currently sparking the imagination of numerous publications worldwide. From the Washington Post to hipster blogs to industry media such as AVN, speculation about the use of self-driving cars in the sex industry is spreading throughout the media world.
The development of driverless cars is likely to lead to massive changes in transport and traffic, with major consequences for the urban landscape, cultural techniques and the way we live. Many people employed in transport are likely to lose their jobs, the transport of people and goods is likely to become cheaper, the journey to work will probably be perceived more as leisure time and ultimately sexual activity in self-driving vehicles will also become more frequent.
These are the thoughts of British researchers Scott Cohen and Debbie Hopkins in a study entitled »Autonomous vehicles and the future of urban tourism«. As it is, dry scientific prose can generate headlines worldwide if individual paragraphs can be formulated into a catchy thesis or if interesting visual worlds can be produced in the minds of journalists looking for a headline.
A few simple paragraphs in the study now give rise to wild speculations that there might be self-driving brothels in the future, a business model that has hitherto been the exclusive imagination of journalists.
The study itself only listed all areas in which autonomous cars could lead to changes. Logically, this also applies to all tourist and other leisure activities that people pursue.
Mobile brothels are a logical development
One of the authors of the study, Scott Cohen, says in an interview with Fast Company: »People will be sleeping in their vehicles, which has implications for roadside hotels. And people may be eating in vehicles that function as restaurant pods«. From these basic considerations about the effects of autonomous vehicles, the step to possible effects on people’s sex life may not be a far fetch. Cohen adds: »That led us to think, besides sleeping, what other things will people do in cars when free from the task of driving? And you can see that in the long association of automobiles and sex that’s represented in just about every coming-of-age movie. It’s not a big leap.«
So it is only a logical consequence that sex and thus also sex for money will take place in self-driving vehicles. Cohen believes that it is neither impossible nor absurd to imagine »red light district on the move. Prostitution doesn’t need to be legal for this to happen. Plenty of illegal activities happen in cars.« He adds dryly: »Where prostitution is legal, and regulations allow AVs to develop fast and be on roads quickly, we could see this come together rapidly. Europe is one of those places.«
But wait … What about privacy?
After the publication of the study, a lot of people are already worried about possible implications. Kate Devlin, an expert on sexuality and robotics, points out that privacy could be a big problem. After all, shaded windows in a car wouldn’t hide everything. She points out that self-driving cars may also be data-hungry computers. »Self-driving cars track a lot of data« said the author of a book about sex robots. This could also include the behaviour of the passengers. Such cars have sensors, loudspeakers and cameras. This causes difficulties for sex workers in particular. Devlin asks: »Would this be good in terms of sex workers’ security in that it could provide location information for safety or could such data be used against sex workers where such work is criminalized?«
So after the opening of several brothels with sex dolls, a new phenomenon seems to be emerging that raises many legal, ethical and economic questions. The oldest trade in the world, that much remains to be said, will always look for ways to make use of new technologies. It has always been and will always be one of the early adopters of innovations.