Is that a Turret in Your Pocket, or Are you Just Happy to See Me?


Achtung! Adult themes and game spoilers ahead.

Sexual behaviour is one the most important aspects of the theory of natural selection (fitness for reproductive success). Animals, including the wily humans, have developed a wide variety of sexually dimorphic behaviours to attract mates. The male of the satin bowerbird, for instance, spends a lot of time decorating his bower with all kinds of fancy home furnishings such as twigs, feathers, berries, flowers, etc (Source). Then during mating season, they sing all kinds of fancy songs, including remixes from other species, to attract females from all over eastern Australia. The female approaches and inspects the bowers of many males, who eagerly shower her with gifts, until she chooses one fetching male, and together they get down to business. Afterwards, she goes off on her own to set up her nest and take care of the incubation. For his part, the male continues decorating his love shack in order to attract more females. He can be rather prolific in his endeavors, while other males are not so lucky and get none. This is but one example of the great breadth of sexual behavior that we can find in the wild.

The example of the satin bowerbird opens up many questions regarding how members of a species learn to behave in a particular way when wishing to initiate sexual relationships. Broadly speaking, the males of many species usually take the initiative in the courting process and compete with each other to access females. Females, on average, are the choosy ones, who love extravagant visual displays and behavior. This is not always the case, sometimes the roles are reversed or non-existent, but usually males and females have developed unique differences in sexual behavior, hence the term sexual dimorphism (Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al.,2001, Alcock, 2001).


Human sexual behavior is much more complex but still bound by the same process that non-human animals experience in relation to their mating habits. We can get very inventive with our approach to monkey business, but generally, the male tends to be more motivated in initiating courtship while the female checks things out and chooses from the available merchandise. This is not always the case, as most of us adults know. Females can certainly pursue a target when they set their sights to it. Things have even gotten more complicated since the advent of computers and communication systems. We haven't really had time to catch up and understand human sexuality in the evolutionary context of the information age. It has been one pounding after another, technologically speaking, as developments keep happening faster and faster. To top it all off, we're about to enter a new virgin territory.

Unfortunately, no serious scientist is going to tackle the issue of the future of sexual behaviour in humans. We can hardly bear to look at the issue in depth to begin with, let alone in the context of cybernetic technology like computers, virtual reality, sensory bio-feedback, neural networks, and tanks.



Let me explain. But before I do, please know that I’m about to discuss the storyline in the video game Cyberpunk 2077, so if you don’t want to see any spoilers (or spicy game shots), now it’s the time to press the eject button.

In the game, the main character is called V, and he has a love interest named Panam. They’re both hardened cyberpunks trying to stay alive in the mean streets of Night City and the badlands around. In one of the quests that I recently played, Panam invites V to learn how to use a hover tank called the Basilisk. This tank is not driven manually or digitally like a normal tank. Instead, the driver has to connect his nervous system to the tank and basically drive it with his mind. In this world, people have hardware all over their bodies, allowing them to plug in to all sorts of devices. So in the game, Panam teaches V how to drive and shoot using the tank as an extension of his nervous system.

At one point during the training, naughty Panam jacks into the tank while V is still hooked to the machine's neuro-virtual interface.


What follows is one of the most beautiful and romantic scenes of cyberpunk lore. With their sensory systems hooked to each other, Panam and V experience a blissful union of epic proportions.


True oneness.


One can only imagine what such an experience would be like in reality. Limited by the medium of 3D computer graphics, the artists at CD Projekt worked with light, perspective, audio, and other cinematic tricks of the trade to show what happens when two loving human beings (and a well-equipped tank) engage in techno-lust.




I’m sure the actual experience would be vastly different, but kudos to the team for their artistic vision and having the boldness to explore such a sensitive topic without apologies.



The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time before we’re able to merge our brains with machines and with each other. This makes me wonder about the future of human sexuality, given that we’re still bound by the general rules of Darwinian evolution. I’m aware of alternate views, some of which I believe (like the fractal basis of cosmic sex), but those alternate views have not been supported by experimental results. So, for now, we seem to be bound by the laws of natural selection, and its sub-category, sexual selection. So, how will sticking chips and wires in our bodies alter our sexual displays and behaviors? As far as I know, scientists have not been seriously interested in this topic and likely for good reason (funding, prudish attitudes, politics, etc). So it is up to pop culture alchemists to tackle the issue in depth.


It’s interesting to note that the one who initiated the sexual encounter in the game scene was the female, Panam. She’s assertive, tough, and sensual. It goes against what we would expect in the real world, except on the rare occasions on which the woman doggedly pursues a man. Then again, this is a science fiction video game and is not meant to just mimic reality but alter it, to present us with a new vision of the future in which brain-to-brain communication and heavy-duty weaponry will open thrilling possibilities.



Screenshots of Cyberpunk 2077 by @litguru

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