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The sexual equivalent of the "Chinese room" thought experiment:

Imagine a complex assembly of vibrators, hoses, and mechanical arms, designed to stimulate a human body in every conceivable fashion. A pornstar shows up, strips down, straps on a variety of sensors (pulse, temperature, skin capacitance, genital response) and grabs the control stick with three buttons labeled "I like this", "I don't like this" and "No, hard stop". The pornstar assumes the position and gives us the thumbs up.

Now, in a separate room, a gamer is shown a series of controls and monitors, all displaying entirely arbitrary abstract symbols. As the gamer plays, despite not knowing what the various pings and gradually filling bars actually signify, they begin to become proficient - this sequence of commands followed by that sequence gives a good result! - and the game continues on and gets more and more fast-paced and complex until - fireworks! - a climax is reached.

Has the pornstar had sex with a human being, or was this merely a form of masturbation? Has the gamer - who never realized their game had a sexual connotation at all - had sex? If so, although the pornstar's consent is obvious, the gamer never consented to be part of a sex act - was this a form of sexual assault on the gamer? If we record the inputs the gamer made and play them back again and again (assuming the human subject reacts the same way each time), is anything different about it?

Information has been transmitted both ways, and reacted to. Did communication take place? Presumably, the pornstar would notice the difference if a different gamer was playing, and the gamer would notice if a different pornstar was performing. Can these two people, therefore, be said to have a relationship?

I've intentionally avoided using gendered nouns and pronouns, here. What gender did you assume the "pornstar" was? What gender did you assume the "gamer" was? Would your answers to any of the above questions have been different, if I had given them different genders?

(Tuesday afternoon, INT: EB and JH's living room)

EB: So, in your adventures as the Fuchsia Fleshlight, who, in your estimation, is a citizen in need?
MH: Well, in theory, I'd be rescuing the repressed and pent-up, but, unless I wanted to do surveillance on them for weeks ahead of time to ascertain their need, I guess I'd just have to go to whoever is calling out for help.
MH: And I am not a Fleshlight. I happen to think I'm a little better in the sack than a tube of silicone, thank you very much.
EB: You might as well be, though. If the sex act in question is anonymous, doesn't involve some sort of connection or relationship, what makes it different from deluxe masturbation?
MH: I don't think that anonymity necessarily prevents you from having relationships with people. Commissioner Gordon may not know that Batman is Bruce Wayne, but I'd still say those two men have a relationship.
EB: I do believe I've read fanfiction about that one, yes.
JH: I think it depends on your definition of "anonymous". "Batman" is a different sort of identity from "Bruce Wayne", but it's still an identity.
MH: And if Batman can get away with running around in a suit that just exposes his lips, I should be able to-
EB: Different. Lips.