Securing Sexuality is the podcast and conference promoting sex positive, science based, and secure interpersonal relationships. We give people tips for safer sex in a digital age. We help sextech innovators and toy designers produce safer products. And we educate mental health and medical professionals on these topics so they can better advise their clients. Securing Sexuality provides sex therapists with continuing education (CEs) for AASECT, SSTAR, and SASH around cyber sexuality and social media, and more.
Links from this week's episode:
Sexuality in Space: Space Relationships as a Model for Cooperation
As humanity continues to push the boundaries of exploration and technological advancement, the future of intimacy is a topic that cannot be ignored. The prospect of exploring relationships in space and the integration of technology brings forth a myriad of questions and possibilities.
The Challenges of Intimacy in Space:
The concept of intimacy in space raises unique challenges that must be addressed. First, the isolation and confinement experienced by astronauts during long-duration space missions can profoundly impact their mental health and well-being. The absence of familiar surroundings and the inability to physically connect with loved ones can create feelings of loneliness and detachment. Additionally, the lack of privacy in space presents a significant obstacle to fostering intimate relationships. The close quarters of spacecraft and the constant presence of others make it difficult to establish personal space and engage in private conversations or activities.
The Role of Technology in Space Intimacy:
Technology will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the future of intimacy in space. Virtual reality (VR) technology, for instance, has the potential to bridge the gap between physical separation and emotional connection. Through VR, astronauts could simulate being present with their loved ones, engaging in activities and conversations as if they were physically together. Furthermore, advancements in communication technology will enable real-time video calls and messaging systems that allow for instant connection between astronauts and their loved ones on Earth. This instant communication can provide a sense of emotional support and alleviate the feelings of isolation experienced in space.
The Rise of AI Companions:
Without physical human connection, artificial intelligence (AI) companions may become a viable option for astronauts seeking companionship in space. AI companions could provide emotional support, engage in conversations, and even simulate physical touch through haptic feedback systems. While the idea of AI companions may initially seem unsettling, it is essential to consider the potential positive impacts they could have on mental health and well-being in the isolated environment of space. However, ethical considerations must be carefully addressed to ensure the responsible development and use of AI companions.
The Evolution of Human Connection:
As we venture into space and integrate technology into our intimate relationships, the very concept of human connection is likely to evolve. The physical limitations and constraints of space may lead to a redefinition of intimacy, placing more emphasis on emotional connection and communication. Moreover, exploring relationships in space may open up new possibilities for unconventional forms of intimacy. The absence of gravity, for example, could lead to unique experiences of physical connection, challenging traditional notions of intimacy.
Ethical Considerations and Privacy:
As we navigate technology integration and intimacy, it is crucial to address ethical considerations and concerns regarding privacy. The use of technology, particularly AI companions, raises questions about consent, data security, and the potential for exploitation. Strict guidelines and regulations must be established to protect the privacy and autonomy of individuals in intimate relationships, both on Earth and in space. Transparent communication and informed consent should be at the forefront of any technological advancements in this field.
The future of intimacy in space and the integration of technology holds immense potential for shaping human connection in unprecedented ways. From virtual reality to AI companions, exploring relationships beyond Earth's boundaries will undoubtedly transform our understanding of intimacy. However, it is crucial to approach these advancements with thoughtful consideration for the mental well-being, privacy, and ethical implications involved. By navigating these challenges responsibly, we can create a future where technology enhances, rather than replaces, the human experience of intimacy.
Stefani Goerlich: Hello and welcome to Securing Sexuality, the podcast where we discuss the intersection of intimacy-
Wolf Goerlich: -and information security. I'm Wolf Goerlich.
Stefani: He's a hacker, and I'm Stefani Goerlich.
Wolf: She's a sex therapist, and together we're going to discuss what safe sex looks like in a digital age,
Stefani: Today we're joined by Simon Dube, Ph.D. He is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Kinsey Institute, specializing in human sexuality, sex tech, and erobotics - the study of human-machine erotic interaction and co-evolution. His work also explores space sexology and how we can integrate sex research into space programs. He is the communication representative of the International Academy of Sex Research, Co-chair of the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots, and his work is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research. Simon, thank you so much for joining us today.
Simon Dube: Thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here today.
Wolf: Let's talk about your journey. Let's start off with that right? How does one come to research Human-machine erotic interaction?
Simon: It's a long story, but it really started with an interest in the neuroscience of social interaction, and I discovered a few years ago that there was a researcher at Concordia who was doing neuroscience of human sexuality. So right off the bat that piqued my interest. And I mean, when you get into grad school, you have to choose a topic that will interest you not only for the 65 or six years of your master's, your PhD, and your graduate school, Uh, but also maybe a topic that you'll be interested in pursuing for, uh, the rest of your life. So I got into grad school to study human sexuality, but rapidly I started working on BDSM and kink and the development of sexual preferences. But as things uh continued on, I definitely realized that one of the biggest change in human sexuality was coming from the growing integration of technology, uh, in your in our human intimacy. So I got more and more interested in that and the realm of sex robots and VR technology, and how this was and was going to transform and reshape the way we connect intimately. And the more I got into it, the more it just started to occupy 95-99% of my time, and I decided to move towards that looking into how sexual preferences are reshaped. But we discovered rapidly early on that there was just a lack of research and not just a lack of research on human-machine erotic interaction, but a lack of way to do research, a lack of a framework, a lack of good approaches of interdisciplinary approaches and different perspectives. To tackle these issues, we kind of took a step back and realized, Look, we actually need to build a field. We need to integrate a way for people to have a common language common concepts to have a common vision between engineering, technologists, people who are software engineers and developing these systems in a common language, with people from social sciences, human sciences, human sexuality to talk about the same things and try to approach these problems from different angles in a collaborative way. So that's how erobotics was born. It was born as a field. It was born as an idea, a concept that would bring human-machine interaction and sexology together and provide some of the tools and ideas that would that would provide theory, but also provide, uh, empirically testable hypothesis. And that's what you also need in science. They just cool ideas that I think people can latch on to and make a good one study about, but something that is going to launch a full research program. So we published Foundations of Erobotics in 2020. We proposed concepts. We proposed an idea, a theory called Framework. Uh, we proposed all kinds of things, and as we were building up this, uh, this field, we were also thinking about the applications of these technologies for the future. And clearly one of the, um the big applications of these new technologies is to connect people remotely to provide intimacy and sexual experiences to people who might otherwise either not have access to or be interested in expanding the realm of their sexuality to through technological means. Now, when we think about these things, we also realize that, yeah, this technology could be really helpful for people who live in isolated, remote, confined environments. So thinking about that, the most isolated, confined, extreme, difficult environment aside from here, other places on Earth, is space. There's nothing more extreme than living in space. So with everything that was going on in the space industry, uh, and the push to colonize new worlds to settle new worlds to perform long-distance uh, travels, we realized erobotics and its technology could be used to help astronauts and people who live in space for ever longer periods of time. So we it it came kind of as a a spur of the moment inspiration. A eureka moment where I woke up one morning and I'm like, we need to talk about dildos in space. OK, we need we need We need to talk about sex toys in space or VR in space or in general erotic technologies and robotic technologies and how they could help monitor, provide, pleasure, provide connection to people who live in in space for long periods of time. When I say long periods of time, I'm not talking about three or four days and maybe a week. We're talking about people going there for many months, months, maybe multiple years, if we have to do a trip to Mars or live for a few months on the base on the moon, which we're aiming for for the establishing it starting in 2025 and 2027. So it's coming together. So we wrote a piece for the conversation title, uh, something like “Sex and Space: Could technology meet the intimate needs of astronauts?” And that piece just went, um, I won't say viral, but it got a lot of attention. Not long after the company, the sex, that company, uh, we vibe, who's now part of LoveHoney Group. And they contacted us. And like, would you be interested in expanding your ideas about that in a In a report in a consultancy report that we can like, How can sex tech help, uh, astronauts? And so we said, Yeah, we'll we'll do something and just expand on these ideas. And while we were doing that, that's around the end of 2021 or at the end of 2020 we really realized, Look, we just, um we need to take again a step back. We're already talking about solutions for astronauts and technology that could be used in space, where we're not even addressing the big question of how are we going to have, like sex and intimate relationship in space. We're not doing any research on that. So again, um, I don't know. In the famous words of Britney Spears, “Oops, I did it again” - We had to recreate a new field like we had to. We had to take another step back and be like, How do we approach these things? And we had already done that in a robotics, but we had to do something different now for the space sector. So we wrote the case for Space Sexology because we were not the first to call for more research in this area. But we realize also, look no one's kind of giving a road map or like a a model or framework to how to approach these questions and then build a road map of studies. Because sometimes it's great to say, Look, you need to study this, But then NASA is like, Why? Or other people are just why is it important and how, then, after that, once you convince people of the importance of your subject, you need to give them something to move on. So that's what we did in the case for Space Sexology, and it launched another wave and that is it for now for what is really a long introduction. But I think it kind of gives a really broad overview of how I came into grad school, how I came to erobotics and how now we're mixing this with space sexology, uh, moving human sexuality into the future.
Stefani: I remember reading some articles on, um uh, various journals. I think I saw it on space.com. I'll try and find that for the show notes about how there was actually this idea that maybe, you know, when we send manned missions to Mars, we send only womanned missions to Mars. Maybe the easiest way to handle this is just to not send guys at all. And it made me laugh for a couple of reasons and A) the idea that if you have a group of women together, they won't be sexually active together and B) the idea that we would rather just gender segregate an entire field of science and, frankly, an entire planet than talk about sex and space than talk about this idea of sexuality. As you have helped to build out this field and expand this discipline. What sort of blowback or reactions have you gotten because the idea that the solution to this is we only send girls to space seems a little heteronormative and also a lot unscientific to me.
Simon: Yeah. I mean, I don't know where to start when I hear these. These potential solutions, it is completely ludicrous. First of all, like you said, obviously you're completely underestimating homosexual behavior like you have bisexual, lesbian, and pansexual individuals. If you send, uh, women in space, they'll probably explore their sexuality still, or even maybe designed to adapt and try to explore and, like, meet their needs. Still, either alone or with partners. So that is not a solution. B, like you said, we'll need everyone in space. We'll need males as well. We'll need the transgender folks we'll need. We'll need to accommodate the large diversity of the LGBTQ acronym. And we'll need people also to reproduce and raise Children. And rather than trying to find a way to have safe, consensual sex and space, including sexual activities and being build meaningful, intimate relationships. You probably like, yeah, they try to, like, cut short, but, uh, and try to find a solution that I think they've just not thought through for more than five seconds. Um, but at the same time, I wanna say there is advantage. I don't I know there's a myth. Uh, there's the heterosexual component related to that, obviously, but there are also a reality that, uh, women and female bodies more specifically take less space. They consume less oxygen. They, sometimes, beat the specs in terms of collaborations and on many tasks, they out form their male colleagues. So they kind of combined this. Some of the data related to that. Some of the easy shortcut of human sexuality that they've done into a a kind of funny idea that they've thrown in the media. And then it got traction and click baits. But it's not a realistic solution. We need everyone to go there When, um, coming back to your question. Like, what are some of the blowbacks? Or let's say issues or challenges that have, uh, have risen when I I talk about these subjects and my colleagues talk about these subjects. I'm really not alone. I work with a team of wonderful people. Uh, Maria Santa Guida. Shana Panda, Alex Lede. I'll plug their names throughout the process because I'm here to talk to you. But this is coming. Also, uh, from a collaborative work. Same as erobotics. There's kind of three big reactions. The first one is a knee-jerk reflex of giggles And why? And uncertainty. Usually it's quite positive. People are just they think it's funny. They think it's a futuristic idea. That is, they don't take it seriously. Uh, but it's not a negative, uh, reaction with they. They don't, um they think it's wrong. They think it's problematic or it's, uh we shouldn't be doing that. It's It's more, um, curiosity, Um, that need your giggle. But then afterwards they think about it for a few seconds and realize, "Oh, yeah, Well, yeah, we'll actually have to deal with that,” and usually it leads to a good conversation. The second reaction, obviously from people who are in the field, they're like, Yeah, actually, we we need to deal with that. But we have some really intense pushback from internal organizations. Um, and they don't necessarily understand the importance of doing that. Or at least they don't consider it a priority. Because right now we're still dealing with trying to figure out how to move into space, how to breed into space, how to work and live together in space. But it's going fast and, um, conducting research and in sex research in general and relationship research. It takes a lot of time, so we need to start right now, and we're already doing long analog missions. We're doing long missions into space, and now we're going to establish bases on the moon in the next five years and then pushing to Mars. So I think it's a bit It's a bit late right now to start this research, but better late than never. The last reaction that I get the most is obviously, and that's a very I wanna say, a very small percentage – except on social media, because Twitter is hell – but there's obviously always a portion of the population who has two negative components. The first one has to do with the fact that they don't think we should be going into space. They don't think we should be investing anyway in space, they don't understand why. It's important for, uh, climate change to expand. Um, you expand consciousness, expand life into the universe, uh, try to stop, um, using the resources that we're here on earth trying to discover And, uh, everything that's they don't understand the importance of, uh, for their health, for the well being of our planet. But for their well-being of our civilization. And so the first of like, it starts there, they don't even agree with the fact that we should be going into space. So why even bother? Like putting resources into people masturbating or having sex and sexual well-being in space. And the second part of that is just inner conservatism and moral conservatism. Like, I have to deal with people who are who send me prayers, thoughts and prayers. And, like, they pray for my soul. Uh, they're like, Oh, you're probably going to hell and these things, um, that doesn't happen too often. Um, but the first few times it happened, That's where I thought, Yeah, I actually made it as a sex researcher. I think that's kind of, like real of passage that every sex researcher receives these, uh, these claims of like, look, you're doomed for hell repent your soul. And so there's people. Obviously you, uh, we don't think in a way, uh, sexuality. And the way we're dealing with it on Earth should be the way it is right now, or we're sure they don't have, like, very sex-positive approach to it. So why even bother in space? So I'd say that's most of it. But most really like the takeaway is that most people, um, have a kind of a positive approach to it. Um, and part of our big job, uh, that my colleagues and I are doing is trying to inform the public and organizations of why this is important. It is not actually an area that is extremely expensive to invest on in terms of research. It is nothing compared to rockets to the technology that's behind just a filtering system or air reading systems or like a toilet in space. It is nothing that complicated. It's social engineering. It is social engineering, and it's human research and these things, and it takes time. It takes resources as well, but it takes more time than resources and when it comes to money. So we're just trying to make people understand this is important. You should invest in that because what's going to happen is not that someone is not going to be able to breathe or like, drink or eat in space. Or, for some reason, there'll be something broken. There's plenty of redundant systems and emergency contingency plans and whatnot. What's going to happen is someone's going to snap in space. They're going to lose their shit like they're going to be depressed, anxious, sexually frustrated, miss their partner. They'll have relationship difficulty with their colleagues. For a long period of time, that's what I'm more worried about than something breaking um out there.
Stefani: So confession time. I think I might be one of those people that ask those questions. Sometimes Wolf and I, generally speaking, are really aligned in our values and our vision and what we enjoy and what we talk about, and one of the only truly knock-down, drag-out fights he and I have ever had was about a year after we started dating. About the hypothetical idea of generation ships in space. As a social worker, my philosophy has always been. Why are we looking at other places? Why are we not investing that money? But why are we not investing that money fixing things here? Why are we throwing millions of dollars into space research? Why are we talking about generation ships? Because we have to flee the planet when we could just be fixing the planet. So before I let my counterpoint partner take over and nerd out with all of his wives, tell me on it, Simon. Tell me why. Tell me why space exploration matters.
Simon: Yeah, absolutely. That's actually a super fundamental question. Two things. First of all, we we need to stop creating false dilemmas. It's not one or the other. We can invest resources here on Earth to fix some of our problems. We also need to be very mindful that plenty of the technologies that we're developing for space are actually reused here to improve the quality of our life, the efficiency of the way we use resources and also tackling some of the challenges in places where on earth is very difficult to live, and it's going to be increasingly difficult to, uh, to live in certain places with climate change. Now, it might sound a bit nihilistic, uh, on my end, but I don't see capitalism virtually changing in many ways, But I see that if we can find a way to get our resources outside of Planet Earth and in an ideal world, transform Earth into a garden like a national park. Think about that like think about getting our fuel or resources in places where there's no life possible and there's no life, there's nothing. There's desert. We're talking about rocks and sands and gas and environments that cannot sustain life unless we bring it and we find ways to adapt to it. In these places on Earth, we have a very we're kind of stuck on an island. There's very finite resources on this little island, and right now we are using them at an increasing speed, and I agree with you. We need to figure out a way to not do that and not waste our resources. But we also, in my opinion, are not going. Unfortunately, I don't see, uh, agencies from governments and the, um, a desire to change our consuming habits. And but if we don't change that, we need to go and get those resources absolutely somewhere else. That's really like the practical economic, uh, aspect. Two other main reasons. On a sufficiently long period, something's going to happen. OK, the dinosaurs like, as Rick Tomlinson would say, and other people in the space, the dinosaur didn't have a space program. OK, one day there's a rock, there's a sun, there's an asteroid. There's something that's going to happen. There's going to be a huge pandemic. There is going to be some climate change, or the sun - on a sufficiently long period of time. The chances of an extent existential threat are 100%. Something is going to happen that is going to be cataclysmic. Whether it's a volcano, whether it's a major earthquake, something's going to happen and we need to survive. I mean, we need, like in a really practical way, and the only other I think opposite view to that is I mean, I choose life. I choose the expansion of consciousness in the universe. If you tell me, I mean, it's OK that we on 5 million - billion years, we extend to it. We've done our time. That's fine. There's actually a good, uh, argument to do that. But I choose life. I choose the expansion of consciousness and survival, and not just us as a humanity of other species and other forms of life that we have on Earth. I want to continue that and expand that into the universe. If you think about that when we as a human in our brain and other animals are being aware of our universe, we are part of that matter. We're the universe becoming aware of itself. And I'm for the expansion of that consciousness and that growing the what I mean most like to say the light, the light of consciousness can obviously be extinguished very easily. We are on a small island, a small pig of light in a huge right now desert of nothingness, where there's infinite resources there, very finite resources here. The third point that I think, really must not be underestimated. And it's more like a philosophical point, which is, there's knowledge to be gained. There's things to be discovered. There's beautiful things that I think as a species we need to uncover and explore and learn about. We are capable of doing that. We have, in a way, in my opinion, a cognitive responsibility to learn these things and try to preserve it and try to learn from it. So there are things that we still need to discover on our planet, including how to live in harmony with it. But there are also infinite things to discover outside. And I'm a scientist by training. I'm also, uh, at the before I was a scientist, a very curious individual. I just want to know. I just want to know what's out there and, uh, because otherwise what's what's the point? I mean, we can pack it in and just say, That's fine, We're good. Uh, we had our time and end the year, but that's seriously. It's a personal choice. At the end. I found that I choose life. I choose knowledge, and I choose the survival of our species in harmony with our universe. We still have to figure out all of this.
Wolf: Thank you, Simon. I don't know that, uh, we have won her over yet, but, uh, I think that was a great answer. And the next time it comes up, I'm just gonna turn to her and go. You know what? The dinosaurs didn't have a space program. It's gonna be my response. But let's let's talk about that right. In terms of choosing life and choosing consciousness and believing in the human species. A lot of the human species, of course, is driven by our relationships is driven by our feelings of intimacy. So as you've been looking at this as you've been researching this, what what approaches have you taken? I know you've put together a bio-social framework. Can you talk us through how to even approach this concept in the case for space sexology?
Simon: After trying to make people understand why this is important, why there are issues where there are actually problems and challenges to be addressed, but also huge benefits. Uh, that could be derived from investing in sexual health and wellness. Uh, in space. We said, Look, we need to kind of give an idea of how to approach that now programs of research in the space industry are famously divided. But I say divided. They're really integrated together. But people often think about in a little, uh, binary way. Technical and human factors. OK, but it's not binary. Both of them work together. Technical factors and technical research related to vehicles, habitats, uh, name it. They are designed for humans. And so it's human factors that also inform the way we develop those technical factors and vice versa. The limits of our technical capabilities influence the way we need to adapt and train astronauts and screen them and really select who's going to go to space for a longer period of time. So think about it as a bidirectional relationship in this instance. So space programs they are in, they're divided in plenty of areas. But these two big ideas of technical and human factors are what we need to be tackling, uh, together, and we need to position space sexology, the comprehensive study of extraterrestrial intimacy and sexuality. Within these ideas, it can be in what we call human research programs. Um, that NASA has. It can also be on it, but it needs to be also integrated with the technical factors. How are we going to provide the necessary equipment environments for people to have safe meaningful sexuality? And I'm not just talking here about masturbation, sex, and building intimate relationships I'm thinking about How do you build a meaning? How do you have a space with your partner? How do you deal with power dynamics if someone falls in love with someone of fear? How do you deal with pregnancy? How do you if someone, uh, gets pregnant on a long mission to Mars? Because I don't know, they use contraception. Contraception failed, or they actually decided to have Children on another planet. You need to be technically not just like how we deal with that. We need to create environments, equipments. We need to to to be, uh, dealing with the situation. But we also need to train astronauts and crews to be respectful, mindful, consensual, and have exceptional, uh, erotic and sexual communication skills to deal with the complexity of Look, we already have problems here on earth with and difficulty or what I said at conferences like Wink Wink, we've solved all we've already solved and figure out how to have meaningful and positive sex. Obviously not, but multiply this by the complexity of living in space. So already in psychology and sexology, we, in medical research and development, have developed already plenty of frameworks to address these interdisciplinary field. One of them is the biopsychosocial approach. It's a way of approaching a problem and studying a phenomena by in a comprehensive manner, thinking about yes, the biological aspect. How, for example, are we going to make sure that a fetus grows in a healthy manner in space? How are we going to make sure children are not affected by radiation, gravity, the stress of living in these environments? Now there's also the psychological component. How, um, how is it going to affect their cognition, their memory? How is it going to affect their psychological and their mental health? How, um how are we going to deal with depression, anxiety, but also, um, in a more holistic, positive manner. How do we build meaningful positive lives that are fulfilling, like careers, jobs, partners, uh, fun pleasure, leisure activities like we need to be thinking. And thankfully you human research programs in space organization. That's compared to technical factors, maybe less of an investment. But it is still an important investment and NASA with the up upcoming, um, missions, including CSA, also the Canadian Space Agency, ESA, the European Space Agency. They are investing more and more in understanding how people live and thrive, um, and deal with, um, the complexity of living in long for long periods of time in isolated environments. So they do analogue missions. Like the ones that just started recently where four astronauts, uh, analogue astronauts will live in a Mars simulation-based environment which is 3D printed, which is pretty cool. They're going to live there for 378 days. That's a year long. It's pretty intense, like you're with four people in a small environment, and you need to work, live and not just survive but thrive in these environments. You we need to be thinking carefully about the psychological component, and the last thing that people really underestimate is the social component or what we break down as society and culture, how we interact with others, but how we bring our how we develop new societies in these microenvironments. How how we bring our cultural backgrounds and norms. So if we come back to sexuality and intimate relationships, how we deal with marriage, what do we How do we deal with sexual norms and sexual scripts in these environments where people might have, like pausing, view of what marriage is the relationship? Gender roles? Uh, how do we deal with, uh, abortion like, Let's let's mention it. How do we deal with abortion in space with the cultural and backgrounds of different people coming from different country? How do we deal with, um, challenges related to sexual activities? Um, informed by cultural backgrounds and whatnot, And when we think about it, OK, an example: The International Space Station. It's an international laboratory in space where people have different sections, and it's governed by different countries and there's international zones. But when we go into on the moon or Mars and we look at the Artemis Accords like where there's plenty of countries coming together, these countries have different perspective on what acceptable human sexuality is and human intimacy. So how do we deal with that? Um when we are going to have these kind of international quarters governed by different entities on Earth, maybe self-governed into these microsocieties. Um, we need to be thinking about living in these small, relatively small environments for a short period of time for longer periods of time, where these habitats they're kind of microworlds or microsocieties in a microenvironment, and that's already a complex thing to achieve. So we need to be thinking about if you if the ones the people who are listening to this podcast if you read our paper, think about these two big circles overlapping these ven diagrams of technical and human factors and within that the biopsy model, which include biology, psychology, society and cultures. And in the middle of that, we're thinking about space sexology as how are we going to promote health and well-being within the complexity of these challenges and these intersecting challenges? So I would say that this model just gives us an idea of how to approach these questions in a complex manner, not underestimating each part of it, but just tackling holistically. So it actually raises more questions than it answers but it provides a framework of Let's stop saying, Look, it's just a matter of breeding in space or it's just a matter of making sure people are not depressed. It's everything. It's an integrated approach.
Stefani: One of the first topics of interest for you was sort of B, DS, M, kink and all of that. And that's my sweet spot. That's my area of specialty. So thinking about the power dynamics of these sorts of things is fascinating, especially because space missions are usually structured in a sort of military hierarchy. There is a commander, there is a chain of command. There is a very strict protocol in who is accountable to who and I think about, you know, family friends I had years and years ago that met in the Navy and got married, and when they got married, she outranked him, and they actually made him move to another base. They ended up being a long-distance relationship after marriage because of the military power imbalance, and I'm fascinated to know how that would play out in a small group space setting, where you do, by necessity, have to have a very structured chain of command. But that doesn't mean that our emotions get turned off, especially when we're thinking about long-term missions like going to Mars or being in the International Space Station for a year. You have to be able to balance these two. And I've never heard anybody mention that piece until now. Listening to you tell me more.
Simon: Yeah, I fully agree. Um, the short answer is, I don't know, really. I don't know how this is going to play out in space, but the fact that I'm saying I don't know means there's a few questions to be asked and a few research to be done. So I would say, um from the get-go, my intuition is that the first and what we're trying to push in our papers and our research people who are going to live in space, uh, and deal with these power dynamics. But all kinds of other dynamics related to the complexity of human eroticism is they'll have to become extremely good intimate and sexual communicators. We are going to have to train into astronauts and people who live in space where we call an erotic etiquette. It's really a way for people to understand their needs, their desires, communicated efficiently and understand that other peoples have complex needs and desires and come from a space of empathy. And it come from a space of even friendship and and collaboration. You are in an environment where you are not just a little dependent on each other. You have a codependency of interdependency that is extreme. I'll give you an example. Your commanding officer is also, let's say, the Medical Chief Officer, You are a software engineer on the space station or the ship that's going to Mars, and you're a crew of 46, maybe eight – maybe 10 or more in the future. But let's say like in the next few years, you need each other. You need each other to survive. You, uh, especially now, right now, we're not saying thing. Um, let's say robots and the partner comp. But even if we were, you need each other to survive you. But you can. You can fall in love with someone especially, Let's be honest, you have similar interests. You're sharing a closed space. You have your needs. You have your own desire. You need to be honest about, um, your interest. You need to be receptive to rejection and or compliance. You need to deal with jealousy. You need to — some people might feel frustrated online. If two people start dating, how is this going to affect the chain of command? Is there going to be favoritism? Is there going to be perception of some form of conflict of interest? Um, we need to develop teams not just individuals, but individuals who have good erotic etiquette. But teams that are able to deal with the complexity of that and communicate their needs communicate, um, their reality and put in place structures of when problems arise. We can talk about a complex problem like breakups falling in love. Uh, dealing with this, but still managing to cooperate and work efficiently. I think may be an example to just it is an analogy. OK, um, it it's not a perfect example, but it'll give you an idea. I think of the spirit of what I'm trying to convey here if you have two parents who are raising a child. But they get divorced because one cheated on the other or all kinds of millions of reasons why people break up because they fell out of love and, uh, or they fell in love with someone else. They still have to develop, ideally, a way of cooperating efficiently for the sake of their Children. OK, for it To avoid mental health, try to not bad mouth the other person try to not make the Children collateral damage of, uh, of the reason why they broke up. Now change the child for the mission or life on board and child the try. Switch the parents for the astronauts. People need to learn how to become better erotic human beings, basically, and how to communicate, how to deal with that and how to overcome their feelings and whatnot to acknowledge them, validate them and be respectful of others. But still put the mission, safety, survival, and well-being of others, including themselves above the impulsive action. Well, I'll tell at conferences other people. It is really easy to be mean. It's really easy to be a bad person. It is the first impulse is to insult other bad mouth. Other is to be aggressive to be. It is the first thing. What's really difficult is to listen to our prefrontal cortex and control this and for the sake of that, that's what we need at the same time as a greater understanding of human sexuality and a greater empathy towards each other's feelings. But this is going to take, like, again, an insane amount of research and a very important amount of training. I think right now we're making the mistakes by thinking that everything is going to be fine and the same way that people are going to deal with their, uh, their problems. Their intimacy and sexuality on Earth is going to be fine in space. It's not fine on earth, first. Secondly, it is going to be compounded and exponentially problematic in space. So rather than just waiting for issues to arise, I think we should be proactive and try to like I said, implement some form of erotic etiquette and try to foster better erotic individuals as we go into space. And I think coming back to a point I made about the technologies, ideas, and research that goes into space goes back into Earth. I think this can actually also inform how we deal with our own eroticism here on Earth.
Wolf: That was exactly what I was thinking. As you're talking right, because, you know, the common ones are known microwaves. Lasers came from space research, but also cleaner water, um, safer food. There is a lot of benefits towards looking at the extremes when you're designing a product. And nowhere is it more extreme than taking, you know, eight people and putting them in a ship for 6 to 9 months in terms of how you navigate relationships. In terms of all that, yeah, I think there's There's a lot that can be can be learned from your research, uh, above and beyond the the space geek in me who likes everything stars, right, Star Wars, Star Trek all that. I want to know more about it. I want to see that future. It will certainly be long after I'm gone. But I, I love the part that you're playing and bringing that future to life as we get to our our last, uh, couple of minutes together. And the time went by really quick, Uh, as we get to our last couple of minutes together, you know, is there a certain aspect of your research that our listeners should be looking to or thinking about when they're thinking about their own relationships here and now, still on Earth?
Simon: Yeah, I think, especially with the pandemic and some of the social transformation that we're living through. I think first of all, they should find they shouldn't be afraid to leverage technologies in general to try to end their sexuality and explore and and communicate with their partners their needs and what they'd be willing to do. I think that's the foundation of any healthy relationship. Is just to be honest and communicate in a respectful manner. Um, what we want for ourselves, what we want in out of relationships and try to be proactive. And I think that's, um, that's reflected in our research on space ology and both a robotics, this really sex-positive approach, this communication and needs-oriented approach and this wellness-oriented approach. This the second thing I would say is, and that's more, I think, for space organizations. And they're even like technologists, um, and technology businesses there are problems that are going to happen, and we need to be proactive within that. And one thing I want to push forward related to these things because we've seen it in the future. We're seeing it now, and I think it is going to receive growing attention. You need to be thinking about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) when you think about space programs and the design of erotic technologies. We have already seen issues of sexual harassment of sexual assault in space analogues, but also in just scientific missions in in close environments NASA, ESA, CSA, you know, there's a problem. You you're aware that there's a problem you cannot hide. You cannot, uh, say that this is not important. It is going to affect all kinds of, uh individuals from the greater diversity of human eroticism. Uh, you need to be thinking about the intersectional phenomenon that happens, uh, between different identities and realities and whatnot, spaces for everyone and you should be thinking and how to make it accessible and safe for everyone. For everyone who wants to participate and contribute to our space, endeavour, and future of our space exploration. Deal with it. Deal with it right now. And we are going to make it the future of our space-faring civilization, Uh, way more interesting. And, uh, to make space more pleasurable, safe, and accessible for everyone.
Stefani: I love this so much. I love the call to just dealing with the reality of intimate relationships and sexuality instead of pretending it's not there. I love the necessity of diversity and equity of inclusion in ways that don't just mean we don't send dudes to space. That's not equity or inclusion. Thank you so much, Simon, for this really amazing and unexpectedly fascinating conversation around sex and space. I don't know that I was prepared for this, and you really have given me a lot to think about. And it's been amazing. Thank you so much.
Simon: My pleasure. And just before we close, I wanna give a big shout-out to my colleagues. This is not the work of one person. Some of my favorite people in this industry and my close collaborators, Maria Santa Guida. We have a paper accepted in the current sexual health report. It is called Sexual Health in Space: A five-year scoping review. It should be published and accessible. Open access to the public sponsored by the Kinsey. The open access is going to be accessible in the next two weeks for everyone, this is really going to give an overview of where we're at right now and where we need to go in the future. Doctor Shawna Pandia, who's just straight-up Wonder Woman. I don't know how many hours she has in a day. Doctor Judy LaPierre de Vontil, Doctor Alex Leen. And also my collaborator at Love and Sex with Robots. Uh, Bobby and Ken and Emily. If the auditors and people who are listening to this want to learn more about robotics and, uh, and human-machine interaction just come to our, uh, to our event, come to LSR and you'll learn from people in academia, but also in the industry and everything where sex tech is going and to people, uh, who are listening from the space industry. Private or, uh, governmental. We're here for the research. We have the expertise. We have the collaborations. We have the network reach out. We just want to partner and push scientific, uh, research forward.
Wolf: So thank you to everyone that was just mentioned. This has been, uh, a great talk. I'm looking forward to that paper, uh, to the audience. Thank you so much for tuning in to securing sexuality. Your source of the information you need to protect yourself and your relationships.
Stefani: Securing sexuality is brought to you by the Bound Together Foundation a 501 C three nonprofit. From the bedroom to the cloud. We're here to help you navigate safe sex in a digital age.
Wolf: Be sure to check out our website, securing sexuality dot com for links to more information about the topics we discussed here today, as well as our conference coming in Detroit.
Stefani: Yeah. Start at Love, Sex, and Robots and end at Securing Sexuality. Make a vacation out of it and join us again for more fascinating conversations about the intersection of sexuality and technology. Have a great week!