VISION

The broad goal of the MIT Media Lab is to explore the impact of modern computing on human society.  Groups at the Media Lab study the implications of computational technology at all stages of the human life cycle, from the neurological development of infants and the behavioral learning patterns of children to the sophisticated interaction modalities of adults in digital communities.
Though we are at times reluctant to admit it, all humans are sexual beings.  It is time that we overcame the antiquated societal taboos associated with the topic of human sexuality and began to explore it from a critical academic viewpoint.  The Erotic Computation Group is devoted to this exciting field of inquiry, investigating the implications of modern technology on human eroticism in its myriad forms.  By developing advanced sexual appliances and techniques, we seek to broaden the range of human amative expression and heighten our potential for sexual gratification.


Early prototype of an industrial-model steam-powered sexual appliance, offered to the US Patent Office in 1891.

 

PEOPLE AND PROJECTS

Dan Maynes-Aminzade: Sex Toys of the Future
monzy@media.mit.edu

From the simple beauty of the Ibrator to the delicate complexity of the Jackhammer Jesus, sexual appliances have a long history of sophisticated industrial design.  Unfortunately, these tools are often ineffective, and their manner of usage is frustratingly crude, having changed little since the first century AD.  Dan has a special interest in inventing sexual instruments that understand the artistic intentions of their user, allowing for the enhancement and extension of erotic expression.  By designing haptic interfaces that scale gracefully from the sexual neophyte to the experienced professional, he hopes to make sex more accessible, intuitive, and fulfilling.


Vidya Lashmikathy: Erotic Speech Processing
vidyal@media.mit.edu
Because of the limitations inherent in computer speech recognition, it works best in constrained application domains in which the range of user queries is limited. For example, speech-based interfaces for reserving airline tickets or verifying movie showtimes have proven highly effective. Phone sex is an another example of an application domain of this variety. Vidya plans to mechanize the process of phone sex, building an automatic system that responds interactively to sexual queries by selecting appropriate responses from a large database of prerecorded voice content.
Gian Pangaro: Sexual Imaging
gian@media.mit.edu
From the Indian poet Vatsyayana's classic Sanskrit masterpiece the Kama Sutra to Alex Comfort's bestselling manual The Joy of Sex, humans have attempted to describe the beauty of the sexual act in words and pictures to spread its wonder to loving couples. As we seek to communicate the vast lexicon of 21st century sexual techniques in greater detail, we will inevitably seek 3-dimensional representations of sexual situations. Using holographic imaging techniques, Gian hopes to represent the sexual act with a greater clarity and fidelity than Vatsyayana could ever have conceived.
Parul Vora: Sex in the Global Community
parul@media.mit.edu
"Short of nuclear war, population growth is the gravest danger the world faces," writes former World Bank President Robert McNamara.  "If we do not act, the problem will be solved by famine, riots, insurrection, and war."  Overpopulation is fundamentally a sexual issue; a significant modification to worldwide sexual practices is the only way to check global population growth before humans exceed the earth's carrying capacity.  By developing advanced, inexpensive prophylactics that enhance the sex act rather than detracting from it, Parul  hopes to put a cap on the burgeoning world population and prevent our dwindling nonrenewable resources from being utterly depleted.
Sheel Dhande: Interactive Adult Cinema
sheel@media.mit.edu
Adult cinema has a long tradition of pushing the technological envelope. The pioneering film Hot Skin in 3D was one of the earliest to use anaglyph red/cyan 3D glasses, and the adult movie industry was the first to take full advantage of the interactive potential of CD-ROM movies, the pervasion of the World Wide Web, and the "multiple camera angle" feature available on Digital Video Discs (DVDs).  As the nature of the cinematic experience changes even further, Sheel will continue to keep adult films on the forefront, offering such titillating options as multithreaded evolutionary pornography that adapts to interactions with its audience.
James Patten: Tangible Sexual Interfaces
jpatten@media.mit.edu
Collocated sexual interaction is becoming increasingly impractical in our fast-paced modern society, necessitating a new paradigm for remote sexual collaboration.  Drawing inspiration from innovative products such as FuFMe, James is developing enabling technologies and accompanying interfaces for multi-user remote sexual intercourse.  With projects such as TouchMounters and WhamBamPlus, he is exploring the ways in which the globalization of new media technology can modify the nature of sex itself.
Charles Dumont: Implantable Sexual Technology
dumont@media.mit.edu
Modern medical science has provided us with a variety of methods for enhancing the sexual attractiveness of our bodies, from facelifts and tummy tucks to breast implants and procedures for penile enlargement. The problem with these techniques is that they focus on form rather than on function. What if plastic surgery were more than simply cosmetic? What if breast implants were Turing complete? As cybernetic body modification becomes more commonplace and digital-neural interfaces improve, surgical alteration could increase not only our sexual appearance, but also our sexual performance. Charles envisions a world of cybernetic superhumans with vastly advanced sexual powers, a world in which silicon meets silicone and plastic surgeon meets electrical engineer.
Sara Cinnamon: Sexual Robotics
sarac@media.mit.edu
Humans have long aspired to building anthropoid robots capable of fulfilling our every sexual whim.  Such robots were first proposed in Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking 1983 novel The Robots of Dawn, and the dream of sexual robots was carried on by Jude Law's "Gigolo Joe" character in the recent Spielberg film AI.  Contemporary approaches to artificial sexual companions such as the RealDoll are severely lacking in realism and limited in capability.  Sara hopes to make the fantasy of sex robots a reality; inspired by animal and human behavior, her goal is to build capable robotic sex creatures with a living presence and to gain a better understanding of how humans will engage in coitus with this new kind of technology.

 

GRADUATE COURSE OFFERINGS

MAS 888: Fundamentals of Erotic Computation Introduces principles of analysis and synthesis in the erotic medium. Expressive examples that illustrate the intersection of computation with the sexual arts are developed on a weekly basis. 
MAS 972: Special Topics in Erotic Computation This is a project course with enrollment limited to keep a design studio atmosphere. Students will design and develop experimental sexual interfaces, applications, and underlying technologies. Using concept sketches, posters, physical mockups, and working prototypes, students will collaboratively refine their designs.

 

ADMISSIONS

The Erotic Computation Group seeks creative, hard-working, team-oriented, and sexually competent graduate students. Successful applicants possess varied skills in computer programming, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.  Special sexual abilities are also important assets.  Oral and written communication skills are essential, as our work is regularly presented to visitors and submitted to major conferences and journals.
Interested students should send a full resume to group director Dan Maynes-Aminzade.  A full application should include a photograph, a portfolio of past work (designs, publications, patents, etc.) and a description of technical skills and research experience and interests.