In the past century, the online sex industry has prospered—from ASCII porn, to Twitch streamers and tech dommes, camgirls have reached new heights but also new lows. With the recent emergence of deepfakes, many people are asking themselves what the future of porn, internet security and fake news will look like, and so do I. What measures must we now put into place to mediate this new form of content creation? I decided to venture into the universe of deepfakes, and research its repercussions on the inherently digital realm of cam girls, to see just how much it could change in the coming years.
For the newbies out there, neural networks use algorithms to generate deepfakes that then create imagery based on images they’ve been fed beforehand. Information flows through a neural network in two steps. When it’s learning or operating normally, patterns of information are fed into the network via the input units, which trigger the layers of hidden units, and these, in turn, arrive at the output units.
In this case, these neural networks are being used to accurately replace a person’s face with another, leading to incredibly realistic fake videos. It has become so rampant that there is now a whole category on Pornhub dedicated to falsified content of a plethora of celebrities. While deepnudes don’t affect celebrities that much, as these can easily be found and disproven, they will affect industries where the lines are more blurred, such as camgirling.
My predictions aim to be optimistic, but also acknowledge the potential setbacks of such emotionally detached imagery. From ideas of self-sufficiency to incel uprisings and computer-generated cam girl agencies, let’s have a look at what the rise of deepfakes could mean for the cam girl industry.
1. Camgirls will be able to do everything and anything
As any sex worker will tell you—everyone has their limits as to what they’re ok and not ok with. So what if they could still perform the acts they refuse to do without the physical and emotional labour? Being able to recycle content already online and fulfilling the client’s fantasy could be the answer to many performers wishing to keep a competitive edge. If you didn’t know your camgirl was faking this content, wouldn’t it be a win-win situation?
2. A constant stream of content
Being a camgirl is a full-time job, and the possibility of providing a steady stream of content to your fans could revolutionise the way they make their income. Will we reach an age where your favourite camgirl is always online? And could developments within emotional AI aid not only creating infinite content, but content tailored to you.
3. To use deepnude is also to detect deepnude
Another key aspect of the new deepnudes software is its ability to detect a deepnude, thus also serving as a means for sex workers to counteract content spread using their likeness against their will. This characteristic could potentially aid the mediation of this new software and, hopefully, give back control to those being unrightfully exploited in these images. The software could even hypothetically be integrated into websites where this content might be spread (ex: Pornhub), and limit its unlawful effects.
4. Tech Domme 2.0
Within the tech domme realm, anything that can make the sub/dom experience more vivid and interactive is celebrated. This new software could improve the relationship between tech dommes and clients, offering up new ways to please the submissive slave. This could manifest itself as videos utilizing their face and the dominatrixes’ tactics, bridging the gap between the virtual sphere and reality.
5. Uncanny valley
For some, deepnudes are a way to engage in intimacy without the complexities of human emotion. With the share of men under 30 who haven’t had sex in the past year having tripled, this seems like it could hinder society’s current efforts to combat incel culture and the increasing disdain our generation has towards sex. Will deepnudes steer us toward more automated and primal experiences regarding sex?
6. Computer-generated cam girl agencies
Since Lil Miquela, Imma, Bermuda, and Blawko, the idea of accepting virtual characters into our real lives, seems more legitimate than ever. Computer-generated cam girls could be the next step in the porn industry.
7. Rent my face
Finally, representing the ultimate convergence between infinite post-biological profession and technology, is the concept of patenting your own identity. As we now increasingly value our faces as currency, could we see people selling their rights to their own face to these camgirl agencies? And, will we see retired pornstars such as Jenna Jameson or even Linda Lovelace, making a return to our computer screens?
While these things explore the ability for deepnudes to be used, I stand by the idea that, in a similar way to books, people will still seek out human connections. Rather than the industry becoming obsolete, it will evolve and provide a whole new realm of possibilities for creators and consumers alike. However, just like anything in the rapidly evolving digital realm, the most pressing issue is to have laws and procedures in place so that software can be used respectfully.
The rise of the teledildonics industry, also known as connected sexual pleasure products, creates new fun ways for us to pleasure ourselves and our partners, with inventions such as vibrating Wi-Fi-enabled butt plugs and webcam-connected dildos. But teledildonics, just like everything else in our modern age it seems, are another privacy nightmare ridden with security flaws. Since 2018, there have been a number of reported hacked sex toys, and the most recent case makes me wonder: should we go back to good old non-connected sex toys just to avoid them getting hacked mid-sesh?
Evidently, I’m not the only one. Most recently, a woman had her butt plug hacked and controlled while she was presenting on stage. It later turned out to be a stunt designed to demonstrate to the audience just how susceptible these devices are to getting hacked. This incident sparked a frenzy as people feared it would happen to them. Not only would having your vibrator hacked be very strange, but it would also be done without your consent—just like the data-collection techniques that are used by Facebook, Alexa, and most technologies.
In 2017, a man called Alex Lomas walked around Berlin and had to use only his phone in order to pull up a list of Bluetooth discoverable Lovense Hush butt plugs, ready to be hacked, just to manifest how easy it was. Last year, SEC Consultants looked at sex toys from Vibratissimo and demonstrated how they could be broken into by hackers not only to “remotely pleasure” people, but also to access owners’ account details. Even more worrying, a Wi-Fi-connected dildo’s internal camera was found to be easily accessible.
What can be said about hacking sex toys and consent laws? Because these are quite uncharted territories, we don’t know just yet what to do when someone hacks a sex toy or its data. In some countries, such as the U.S., laws that define what constitutes sexual harassment or assault vary from state to state. In many countries, the law is still vague about the definition of assault and sexual harassment. In the U.K., sexual harassment is defined as: “unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, and creates a hostile or offensive environment.” The lack of precision surrounding sexual harassment and assault laws prevents us from taking concrete action in the event of a sex-toy hack. Worse yet, we don’t even know whether our data can be hacked into and stolen in the first place.
While the aim of this article isn’t to inspire anxiety and ignite a global wanking paranoia, it should force you to sit back and ask yourself, “What are the privacy implications of using a Bluetooth-connected sex toy?” Last time we ignored such concerns we ended up with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Trump as the President of the U.S., and a moronic Brexit. Even though hacking sex toys isn’t yet defined as assault or sexual harassment, it may very well be regarded so once lawmakers start tackling the issue. In the meantime, maybe it’s worth dusting off the old non-connected sex toy hidden under your bed and relieve the stress with some alone time, if you know what I mean.