why are sex and computers conflated?

Sometimes reading only slightly old books is quite unsettling. In Dream Machines, a book I love on the whole, Nelson quotes what apparently used to be the motto of Electronic Arts, “a software company”, now one of the major producers of video games.

Software should be simple, hot and deep. SIMPLE: the user can get into it easily. HOT: it should be excitingly interactive. DEEP: you’ll be able to use it for years; it will have “new folds” to discover, and thus a long shelf life.

What a ridiculously explicit description of a very objectifying male view of sex with a woman. Men seem to love thinking of machines as somehow equivalent to or replacements for women. Ships are “she”, Turing (though not sexually attracted to women) conceived a test of a kind of AI where a computer would simulate a woman, guys try to create digital beauties and virtual girlfriends. But why? I don’t get it. I wouldn’t even call a dildo “he”. My machines are its, my computer is sexless.

I can’t find this alleged motto of Electronic Arts on the web at all so presumably they came to their senses and eradicated it from history. It’s cited on page 25 of Dream Machines by Ted Nelson, in the 1987 edition. Electronic Arts was founded in 1982.

27. August 2004 by Jill

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