Sex, bionics, hedonics and the pursuit of happiness

An amusing article in the Sunday Times on a proposed bionic sex chip. According to the article scientists at Oxford University hope that within 10 years they’ll be able to implant a chip right into the pleasure cortex of the brain. Xmas 2018 looks sorted then.

However, early experiments have brought a mixed response:

A few years ago a scientist implanted such a device into the brain of a woman with a low sex drive and turned her into a very sexually active woman. She didn’t like the sudden change, so the wiring in her head was removed.

One of the key players in the field is Morten L. Kringelbach who has ‘hedonics’ as his main research area. A quick Google will reveal that hedonics stems from hedonism and studies pleasure. One can only boggle at Morten’s research practices.

Hedonics is also associated with Michael Eysenck (son of Hans Eysenck of IQ fame) who coined the term the “hedonic treadmill”. This dictum basically states that no matter what happens we basically stay at the same level of glumness. Here’s Wikipedia’s potted definition:

The tendency of a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness despite a change in fortune or the achievement of major goals. According to the hedonic treadmill, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.

Now as I recall this theory relates to the happiness gained from say getting a new commodity such as a car, which lasts for about 6-8 weeks. After that it becomes the norm. The question then becomes, would the same happen with the bionic sex chip? Would one be ecstatically chuffed for 2 months and then get bored? Or would it take longer, say a 7 year itch? More to the point, will Oxford Uni be after new volunteers for their experiments? But what if they define it’s gone wrong and the volunteers don’t mind – would they have the right to continue on regardless?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *