The joke, as originally told by Segun Adeniyi, was explicit, if not apocryphal. In-laws summit had to be convened at the height of a cold war between a new couple.
After the husband was acquitted based on oral submission, it was the wife’s turn to be cross-examined. At the end of what turned out a tortuous probing, the truth finally emerged: she was simply no longer able to cope with her man’s libidinous fire-power almost round the clock.
Exchanging knowing glances at this juncture, the more experienced in-laws put it all down to the usual youthful adrenaline. The wife was then persuaded to take it as a demonstration of the intensity of her husband’s faithfulness.
Going forward, a new conjugal time-table was mutually agreed, phasing out such coital activities on a sustainable basis, even while making generous allowance for the husband’s prodigious energy.
The new template however collapsed even before it started the next day. By afternoon, prolific Romeo had already exhausted the agreed daily ration. Long-suffering Juliet’s eruption could therefore only be imagined when the husband later tapped her for more at bed-time.
Reminded of the day’s agreed quota, he had a ready solution: “Then, let me borrow from tomorrow’s”.
Well, if we plumb deeper, we will find a parallel between the referenced tale and the latest craze in town: hyper-realistic sex robots enabled by artificial intelligence.
By pushing the limits of human endurance, mankind would also seem to be drawing dangerously from tomorrow already. Welcome to the age of mechanised or automated sex – a chilling fulfillment of the 2006 prophesy by Henrik Christensen, the chairman of the European Robotics Network at the Royal Institute of Technology, University of Stockholm, of man/machine intimacy.
More and more, perversion encroaches humanity.
By the way, such carnal mindset could also be adduced for the corruption of the idea of Valentine from the pristine chastity it denoted in the beginning to the hedonism it connotes today.
The original Valentine was a Roman priest who, in the throes of war, defied the emperor’s decree to perform the sacrament of marriage for young men the king thought were better engaged at the battlefield at that material time.
Valentine’s defiance was out of a deep conviction that marriage was consistent with biblical injunction. His beheading was ordered by Emperor Claudius II.
Two centuries later, in appreciation of his martyrdom, Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. Romanticisation of the day started many generations later by great writers like Geoffrey Chaucer and Shakespeare in their works.
Today, we hardly view Valentine anymore in its original sacrificial lights, but now more as invitation to debauchery – the feast of conquest and forbidden seduction.
Now, rising from a conference at the University of London recently, researchers predicted that within the next few years, robots will be our sexual partners of choice.
The manufacturer- Sinthetics – had unveiled the female doll named Roxy in 2010.
Variously nicknamed Rocky, Gabriel, Akira or William, the male version joined in 2015. Responding to popular demand, the U.S-based firm is reportedly now contemplating putting heat in the synthetic phallus to make it feel more real.
Already, Barcelona has beaten the rest of the world to it by welcoming the adventurous to a brothel sizzling with sex dolls squeakily scoured with special antibacterial soaps before and after each service.
Elsewhere in China, Touch, a sex toy maker, has developed an App called “Shared Girlfriend” that enables customers to customise the dolls they want before renting them for a few nights, with the suggestive payoff: “With one touch of a key, you are no longer single!”
The rise of sex dolls has led to another provocative proposition by David Levy, an artificial-intelligence expert, that by 2050, robots “will have the capacity to fall in love with humans and to make themselves romantically attractive and sexually desirable to humans.”
Levy’s prophesy may, in fact, have come to pass rather prematurely. In Botswana recently, Paellas Mohule, a wealthy car dealer reportedly divorced the mother of his four children to be left alone with a sex doll he imported from the United States.
Claiming to be sick and tired of women jostling after his money and giving him diseases on top, he said his wife is no match to his import from US in “the other room”. As penance, he offered to support his ex-wife and kids financially if they let him be.
Taken together, the idea of sex dolls or “digisexuals” could only have been inspired by man’s instinctive greed, the dark quest to rig perfection against the law of nature, drained completely of humanity in an increasingly materialistic world. Also, some women now hunger for cosmetic surgery to make up for perceived physiognomical inadequacies.
Of course, with the rise of “digisexuals”, long-held epistemological principles are inevitably being challenged with dire implications for existing psycho-sexual norms, potentially signaling the redefinition – if not the end – of humanity.
With “digisexuals”, Segun Adeniyi’s hyperactive Romeo hardly needs to waste time negotiating with the hostile spouse anymore. When Levy’s species enter the mix, the human equation will only get more complicated.
The concept of polygamy and polyandry may also have to be redefined. Future couple may no longer have a choice than happily accept “digisexuals” as the “shadow hubby or wife” under the same roof.
Of course, machine will go farther, but with no soul, shorn of emotion; its touch is cold, kiss tasteless.
There precisely lies the real danger. Addiction to such devices would breed maladjustment from unrealistic expectations in real-life situation. When machines take the place of lover, what happens to the divine protocol for procreation? Can the machine-lover comfort the broken-hearted? Can it shed tears of joy or pain? What hope remains for the perpetuation of mankind till the expected Judgment Day?
Machine is certainly incapable of compassion without which life is misery. Robots imply the freezing of human labour in the production process. “Digisexuals” will also mean filling homes with zombies and draining community of humanity. The more romance gets automated, the lonelier life then becomes. It is impossible to be in love with machine and still have space left to form normal relationship with other humans.
Could this be the apocalypse foreseen by Mahatma Gandhi when he warned against the advance of science without humanity?
The Parable of Odili’s Ginger Farm
In a way, the unveiling of PAMO University of Medical Science in Port Harcourt last weekend speaks not just to Nigeria’s dark reality but also its possibilities. All contemplative Peter Odili ever dreamt when he acquired a vast swath of land in Elelenwo forest in 1989 was no more than a gigantic ginger farm complete with processing equipment.
That was before his foray into politics.
Eventually, the ginger seedlings procured didn’t get sown. Other ideas cascaded as the years rolled by and urbanisation approached. First, the farm was converted to a training and empowerment camp for vulnerable women. Later, it yielded to scholarship as an outreach of the National Open University. Then, last year, following an epiphany of sorts, the kaleidoscope of derelict structures were spruced up preparatory to the take-off of the first privately owned university in Rivers State, with a faculty drawing from some of the best professionals around.
The fruition was the brief but colourful ceremony of last Saturday.
Coming eleven years after his reign as two-term governor of Rivers, the event could as well pass as a reunion of Odili’s teeming political disciples still faithful even though he no longer wields executive power.
But much more significant, I think, is the fortuitous circumstance the varsity idea was conceived. Dateline: December 2016. A four-hour flight delay brought Dr. Odili and a total stranger together inside the VIP lounge of the Abuja airport. The acquaintance turned out to be the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission.
Both being intellectuals, their conversation along the line veered into the increasing educational tourism abroad for training attuned to global trend particularly in specialised areas like medicine and the concomitant drain on the nation’s meager resources.
For Odili, that was the epiphanic moment. The rest, as they say, is now history.
Now, while acknowledging the record despatch with which PAMO’s application for registration was treated, the Pro-Chancellor was effusive in his praise of the NUC boss, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who is not a fellow Niger Deltan nor Southerner but a northerner.
According to him, Rasheed, a complete stranger to him until the 2016 encounter in Abuja, literally moved mountains to ensure PAMO saw the light of the day. More, no less an elder statesman than former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, also accepted, without hesitation, his nomination as Chancellor of the new institution.
Coming at a time the nation’s fault-lines are getting magnified on account of negative politics championed by ethnic entrepreneurs, the story of PAMO’s conception and delivery is undoubtedly teachable indeed. It speaks to our potentials once we refuse parochial considerations to influence our sense of judgement.
Of course, also implicated in the tale of the old-ginger-farm-turned- University was Governor Nyesom Wike, even if fleetingly.
As the local government chairman of the Obio Akpor council, it was his lot to grant statutory tenement approval at some point. Sounding somewhat emotional at the inauguration Saturday, Wike expressed government’s willingness to accord PAMO unqualified support not just out of a moral duty to help the private sector, but also in the confidence that, given the professed vision, it will soon add Rivers to the global map in the field of medical research and study.
Coming six months ahead of his 70th birthday and over forty years he was certificated as medical doctor, Odili could indeed not have conceived a worthier professional legacy.