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Forbes: Sex in the age of generative artificial intelligence

22:36, April 15

Sex and technology have long been intertwined: millions use dating apps to find partners, and some of the earliest commercial online activities involved pornography.

It's no surprise, then, that generative artificial intelligence—the technology that enables computers to create realistic content in many forms—is already opening up new possibilities for studying digital sex and intimacy.

From chatbots and image generators to AI-enabled sex toys and even realistic functional robots, new opportunities for exploring intimacy and fantasy are quickly becoming a reality, Forbes writes.

Of course, this raises some important ethical questions. How will this explosion of possibilities change the way we perceive and relate to such a fundamental human experience of sex? What is the role of consent when we involve intelligent machines in our intimate lives? And what impact can developing sexual relationships through technology have on our emotional and psychological well-being?

Intimacy and relationships powered by AI

Virtual influencers are widely used by brands to promote and sell products, but today they also regularly sell sex. OnlyFans rival Fanvue hosts virtual models who also promote themselves on Instagram, offering adult content and interaction with a growing fan base.

Sika Moon is one such model with over 300,000 followers. Other websites, such as Candy.ai, DreamGF and VirtualGF, enable users to create their own virtual girlfriends, who will then engage in explicit dialogue with them and even send explicit photos of themselves.

These websites also offer real live models the opportunity to create AI versions of themselves that will take on the time-consuming job of interacting with fans for them.

While virtual partners can exist happily in the digital world, some are already doing their best to bring them into the physical world. Sex robots have been in development for a long time, and although they have not yet reached the market, models like Harmony are already close. While the development of these robots initially focused on replicating the “look and feel” of humans, the advent of generative artificial intelligence means they are now equipped with a personality of their own.

Interestingly, Dr. Kate Devlin, author of Switched On: Science, Sex and Robots, says her research shows that potential buyers are as interested in the companionship that these robots offer as they are in the sexual performance.

For dating app users who are tired of being ghosted, Flure has come up with a solution. Their AI, Anna, is “always on” and promises to give each user her undivided attention. This enables users to share an unlimited number of messages and images, personalized to their liking.

Generative AI is also finding applications in sex toys. Manufacturer Lovense has created ChatGPT Pleasure Companion, which is capable of telling erotic stories depending on the preferences of users.

It has even been reported that an increasing number of people are identifying as “digisexual.” This means that their sexuality is primarily determined by their use of technology—be it online pornography or cybersex.

AI and the future of intimacy

The impact of AI on sexuality and intimacy is likely to have far-reaching consequences.

Looking beyond recreational sex, AI could open up new forms of therapy and sex education. This could help people learn more about themselves, and perhaps even heal the damage caused by negative experiences in a safe, simulated environment.

However, the hyper-real experiences that may soon become available, especially as we combine technologies such as generative AI, robotics and virtual reality, create the need for ethical guardrails that will ensure they are done responsibly.

One thing is for sure: sex sells, which means companies will always be happy to provide products and services that fill this niche.

This means we must learn from past experiences, such as the impact that the explosion in the availability of online pornography has had on society.


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