If humans are dependable for anything, it’s discovering new ways to get horny over new tech. And according to a new report, self-driving will really get people riled up.
Researchers in the United Kingdom just released a paper in the in the journal Annals of Tourism Research that details how self-driving cars may affect urban tourism. But if you scroll past all the boring stuff, you’ll find a section on how autonomous vehicles are poised to impact both sex work and sex in general.
“One of the starting points was that AVs will provide new forms of competition for hotels and restaurants. 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,” Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey in the U.K., who led the study, told Fast Company. “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.”
The researchers note in the paper that this might look like “hotels-by-the-hour” being replaced by self-driving cars. “Such private CAVs [connected and autonomous vehicles] may also be put to commercial use, as it is just a small leap to imagine Amsterdam’s Red Light District ‘on the move,’” the researchers wrote in the paper.
“Particularly in cities where the governance is in place, where prostitution is legal, and regulations allow AVs to develop fast and be on roads quickly, we could see this come together rapidly,” Cohen told Fast Company. “Europe is one of those places. It’s not impossible or that far-fetched to imagine the red light district on the move. Prostitution doesn’t need to be legal for this to happen. Plenty of illegal activities happen in cars.”
This, of course, poses yet another ethical question surrounding self-driving cars—and not whether it’s ok to fuck in a car. Plenty of people have been doing that for years, and self-driving cars will just make it more convenient. What’s unclear is if these types of vehicles provide safety and security for sex workers—a community already vulnerable to violence, especially in regions where sex work isn’t decriminalized. And for those looking to screw in a self-driving car they don’t actually own (i.e. an autonomous Uber or Lyft), the issue of surveillance arises. As the researchers note in the paper, these companies will probably want to make sure users aren’t having sex in their vehicles—as well as engaging in any other illegal activities—so they might monitor them.
There are a lot of ethical questions to consider with regards to self-driving cars, like whether we have confidence in them, who they should kill when faced with that grim choice, if they might fuel eugenics, and more. But whether people are going to fuck in them feels like less of a question and more of an inevitability. Of course, that would require you to first choose to trust the machines. Unless the fear turns you on.