• 04-10-2020

  • 8 min read

  • Anna Prist

AI in a Sextech: the Future of Sex

Originally published on Voice UI.

A scientist and a researcher, Brian Roemelle, once said that artificial intelligence is the electricity of the future. And it is difficult to disagree, for AI has a huge impact on many industries right now — from banking to auto. But have you ever thought about how AI works for a sextech? Great changes are happening right now, and although you may not even notice it, your sex experience is getting better.

The sex industry is booming — people accept themselves and their bodies, some of them open out, some start experimenting, and some identify themselves as digisexuals (people whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology — they don’t need other people to have sex to).

Inevitably this 30-billion-dollar sector becomes a great financial potential for investors and entrepreneurs. And sextech is not limited to sex toys and dating apps, it has lots of products and services — some of them powered by AI for the same reasons as for the business solutions — to improve your experience and push up sales.

Personalized porn experience

 

Sex is an intimate and sensitive experience, that’s why personalization is of great importance here. Porn is the first thing that comes to mind when talking of a sextech. And the porn industry is very technology-savvy — it was one of the first ones to implement open-source techs and big data solutions.

I’m not going to mention AR and VR porn, because you’ve probably heard a lot about it and a lot still has to be improved to give that real first-person perspective. Let’s learn of some real solutions used today.

Just like in the case of familiar streaming services, major porn sites are working hard on recommendations. AI algorithms examine your browsing and buying history in order to find the films and images of your interest and show them to you in the next move. An intelligent algorithm considers the actors, genres, and themes you like and then pick over related films out of thousands of movies it (or users themselves) has tagged before. Of course, it also considers your favorite places, positions, body shapes, clothes, etc.

More than that, Pornhub, for instance, has a cool feature — all their films have special dots at the video playback line, showing different scenes/body parts. And this is actually machine learning that recognizes everything that’s going on in the film. They need it to improve personalization further than before when they could only analyze sex categories users love. Now they can see what exact part of the video you’re watching, which one you’re skipping, and after which you’re leaving the site meaning you did your thing. All that info is used later for recommendations.

Further still, if you open the developer console to review which sites Pornhub is addressing during the page load, you will see tons of tracking pixels that gather information, and lots of third-party advertising networks that buy this data. But keep your hair on! It doesn’t say that some James Smith is whacking it to the BDSM category or whatever. It simply has an identifier with referenced data and recommendations so that the next time some sex shop will be selling bondage ropes, you will see their ad. No personal data is involved, actually. This is a huge porn resource — what else are they supposed to do to make money? Premium users are under-represented at a very low percentage of the total number, so they have to weasel their way out.

Pornhub is one of the largest advertisers in its market segments, so, they gather data, analyze it, and classify their users. They figure out your taste for brands and then sell this data to advertising platforms. So, the next time you decide to buy something — this data will affect the ads you see. Simple.

Deepfake porn

 

While on the subject of porn — are you aware that 96% of deepfake videos are porn? In case you didn’t know, deepfake is a generic noun for video manipulated or fabricated with AI software. These videos started to emerge massively in 2017 and although some Internet users found it funny, many activists and politicians raised concerns for obvious reasons.

Since December of 2018 Deeptrace researchers have found over 14,5 thousand deepfakes, and that number is growing rapidly. It is important, that no one is trying to fake muscular males — all porn videos feature female subjects. And Danielle Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, says that deepfakes are being used as a weapon against women: 

Deepfake technology is being weaponized against women by inserting their faces into porn. It is terrifying, embarrassing, demeaning, and silencing. Deepfake sex videos say to individuals that their bodies are not their own and can make it difficult to stay online, get or keep a job, and feel safe.

The most famous deepfake video appeared in 2017 and it had the face of ‘Wonder Woman’ star Gal Gadot. It couldn’t fool anyone who looked closely, because sometimes the face didn’t track correctly, but at a glance, it seemed believable, so, the video had a lot of hits.

Today the problem remains open, and although major tech companies like Google and Facebook joined this anti deepfake struggle, it’s hard to say how it all turns out. The technology itself in the wrong hands becomes offensive and harmful — it can provide cybercriminals with new sophisticated capabilities to enhance social engineering and fraud.

To cheer you up though, I got to tell you that deepfake porn is horribly unpopular — researchers counted about 134 million views and that’s a lot less than films of any other genre.

Sex robots

 

A sex doll is nothing new to anyone. But when talking of one most people think of an amorphous inflatable bag, and only a few know how much they’ve developed over the last years.

It all started with the fantasy — movies and series like Westworld, Ex Machina, and so many others allow us to imagine the future where lifelike sex dolls (or I’d rather say sex robots) become an integral part of human life. Some manufacturers say that’s about to happen by 2050.

These dolls become more “human” with each technological innovation. Today they can be customized, they have a mobile integration, sensors, warm skin, natural hair, and inner sensors that allow them to respond to touch. They are incredibly life-like and above that — thanks to conversational AI they can talk (or play music).

Significantly, manufacturers say this talking feature is extremely important to their clients. According to their observations, some people do not use their sex robots in their intended applications, they buy them so that they had someone to talk to because they simply enjoy the companionship. Upon that they find it comforting talking to a life-like creature instead of a smart speaker or any other device.

Meeting the requirements of the customers, the sex industry is rapidly changing to suit people’s individual tastes and has capitalized on providing sex dolls to match both sexual desire and the intimacy of lying with a whole body. So now there are sex brothels pop out all around the world. Many countries are experimenting with using robots as alternatives to sex workers. And since it’s illegal in most of these countries to hire a sex worker, brothels filled with dolls have the potential to replace the traditional ones.

You might well wonder who rents them — brothel owners say there’s no particular demographic among their clients. They range between 20 and 70, they include men, women (of course there are manlike sex robots too), and couples. Also, they note that these dolls can be of great help to those recovering from injuries, or with disabilities, or struggling with mental health.

And despite its popularity, this sextech sector has to work through some moral issues. Because we do not know for sure whether lifelike sex robots could encourage violent sexual behavior — once that happened, it could trickle over into real life. Once people are free to do whatever they’d like without an actual flesh-and-blood person to object, real-life sex could also take a turn for the worse. And women’s advocates say owners could realistically rehearse plans for violent sexual acts with the interactive dolls.

But manufacturers usually see their robots as a comforting conversation companion like Apple’s Siri, only with sensual capabilities. They see their business as a whole big mission with the main objectives of preventing human trafficking and reducing prostitution; helping people with difficulties, reducing sex crimes, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

It is important that since sex robots can talk back, this is not just a physical, but also an emotional bond. And since we get lonely more every day, it is quite possible that robots or other digital creatures will replace our beloved ones.

Some tech companies take advantage of this problem and market their products as a thick-and-thin friend or a lover. In Japan, for instance, where this loneliness problem frequently occurs, a Gatebos company tries to compensate it with a virtual home assistant that lives in a capsule and acts like she’s your tiny cute wife.

Today it feels like men and women have never been more isolated and out of tune with each other. It is quite clear what problems a sextech seeks to address. But could it be that sextech will alienate people? Could we become even more narcissistic and self-absorbed? What affects spending too much time and attention on sex robots might have on mental health?

We need so much time to figure that out, but no one’s going to wait. Still, this is part of an inevitable future and it is in our power and responsibility to create safe products and educate ourselves on them. Sextech meets all the needs of a modern busy person and it is okay to have this AI — human relationship, but it should never replace interactions with real people

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