AI, VR, Porn and the New Sex Tech Boom

Teledildonics, the webcamming boom, VR porn, and the general sex tech explosion of the early millennium showed little sign of slowing down as 2020 appeared on the horizon. As we now know 2020 to be a more or less unmitigated disaster year, many suspected something as seemingly frivolous as sex tech would suffer the fate of, say, live music. That has proven to be far from the case.

 

Virtual reality porn and its related forms offer a more intimate take on the standard pornstar-viewer exchange; a hugely more intimate take. Staring into the eyes of a star you’d previously only seen with other men and women as they surround you with their highly individual sexuality is an experience that most definitely changes a viewer’s understanding of the future of both entertainment and sexual expression. Not everyone favors sharing their private intimate time with your typical (or even atypical) pornstar but remain interested in expanding their horizons along a similar path. Thankfully, they too have plenty of options to explore during isolation and social distancing.

 

Guys, Girls, Games

 

Standing at the intersections of virtual pornography, artificial intelligence and adult gaming, Hybri offers users a chance to enter a slick sci-fi world and create a virtual companion of their own design, and to bring that companion into their actual environment via a mobile Augmented Reality app.

 

The virtual entities created by Hybri users can be customized in numerous ways and be made to look like basically anyone. Facial features and expressions, hair, body shape, skin tone, and even personality traits can be tailored by Hybri users. Obviously not all will be creating romantic partners but Hybri’s developers have certainly provided for those seeking a virtual romantic partner.

 

Next Gen Sexting

 

If designing a virtual partner from the (virtual) ground up is too much effort for you, and if you’re more interested in conversing with, rather than staring at, your digital pal, chat bots utilizing Artificial Intelligence may have more to offer. SlutBot, a text-message-based chatbot created by San Francisco outfit Juicebox, brands itself as a free tool to help those hoping to try sexting actual people by giving them an AI porn partner. Along similar lines but providing a more humanoid character-based approach in its app and web interface, Replika allows users to create a virtual chat partner who learns from their interactions and experiences. Where a user’s relationship with their Replika can lead is entirely up to the two of them.

 

Replikas (as the virtual individuals are known, though they each have a name) exhibit personality traits somewhat more independent from those specified by users. Occasionally appearing to get stuck in a conversation loop and often taking a starkly opposite reading of a user’s inputs and their intentions, Replikas nevertheless have developed remarkably deep relationships with some users. As a tool providing therapeutic company, creations like Replika are becoming more widely utilized and valued. The fact that Replika, SlutBot and other such AIs can be used for purely prurient interests is a boon that reflects right back on mainstream virtual reality porn. And, as is so often the case, the feedback loop between the industries of vice and mainstream tech advancements is in full effect.

 

Bots Behind Closed Doors

 

In an effort to combine the open-ended opportunities provided by AI characters with the physical pleasure of more traditional adult interactions, AI-augmented brothels have begun appearing around the globe. Naughty Harbor, located in Central Prague, Czech Republic, offers patrons a chance to book time with one of the in-house attendants, each one as sexy as she is non-biological. With a motto of “What happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors,” Naughty Harbor seems to be freeing people of the complications arising from living out fantasies with another human being, someone with physical and emotional response systems built on self-preservation, not solely on gratifying a partner.

 

Suggestions that AI-equipped “sexbots” be largely used for teaching young people consent, personal boundaries, social interaction, and common courtesy before they enter the world of adult dating. Bots are now being constructed and designed with “consent modules” in place that will require the bots human collaborator to cultivate a compassionate, mutually rewarding interaction that’s much closer to the realities of human dating and relationships.

 

Some doll creators are heading in a more directly gratifying direction, however. Harmony, a creation of RealdollX, utilizes her AI programming to hold fluid, flexible conversations, charm her companion, and even tell jokes. Perhaps more importantly, Harmony’s facial features and articulation come extremely close to human realism. Must compassion and consent be directly programmed into such a convincing character or will users’ inevitably begin to see their artificial companions as more-or-less human?

 

Will our expanded expectations of virtual and non-human partners transfer across to our interpersonal relationships, too? Will those who employ the aid of an artificial companion come to be more sensitive and compassionate in their relations with other humans, or will they favor the more malleable, self-serving experiences had with a sexbot? As distant as a future full of artificial humanoid lovers may seem today, technology and human sexuality do seem to be headed in that direction whether we’re ready for it or not.

 

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