AI in the Porn Industry: Exploring the Benefits, Risks and Ethical Concerns

Exploring the Benefits, Risks and Ethical Concerns

Is AI going to revolutionize the porn industry or should it be considered a cause for concern?

According to research conducted by the Bedbible research center, as of 2023, the global porn industry makes US$100 billion a year. Pornography is so popular that around 25% of all internet searches made today are related to it. One reason behind its popularity is its ability to adapt to changing technologies, from releasing teledildonics (Bluetooth-enabled sex toys) to opening up sex clubs in the metaverse. Naturally, given the recent rise in the popularity of artificial intelligence (AI), the industry has been quick to incorporate AI into its products as well. 

Today, everything from porn production to consumption has elements of AI in it. But the rapid pace at which this technology is being adopted isn’t always a good thing. Here is a deep dive into the negative aspects of AI incorporation into the porn industry. 

Non-consensual porn

One of the biggest issues with AI porn is that it can be used to create compromising pictures and videos of people without their consent. Deepfake technology (AI-based doctoring of images, audio and videos) has existed since 2017, and even when it first became popular, it was used to edit the faces of female celebrities onto the bodies of adult film actresses.

This ability to put any woman’s face on someone else’s body is an extension of revenge porn (posting sexually explicit images of a person on the internet to cause them mental distress). These images/videos are so life-like that it might even become hard for the victim to deny their inauthenticity. 

Body image issues

Research shows that frequent exposure to pornography can lead to body image issues in both young men and women. Research suggests that teenage boys feel concerned about their muscular strength and penis size when looking at porn, and the girls worry about not having big breasts or a big butt. These issues will probably become much worse when people have the option to customize the appearance of porn actors and actresses—which is now possible thanks to Porn Pen. Porn Pen is an AI image-generation website that allows users to customize nude images of non-existent women from their ethnicities to the size of their bodies. 

While Porn Pen only generates brand-new women, another AI image generator, Lensa, allows users to make pornographic images of themselves. These images got a lot of backlash because they brightened the skin color of the people in the images, making women of color lighter and turning their features more Caucasian.   

Threat to sexually explicit content creators

Another area of concern with AI-generated porn is that it would take away business from sexual content creators. In January this year, a picture of an AI-generated cam girl went viral on Twitter for looking hyper-realistic. As we mentioned earlier, AI can be used to generate porn stars that look exactly like you want them to. Some Twitter users said that they would create OnlyFans accounts now that they can just use AI to generate sexual images. 

Aside from the image-generation AI, there are also AI chatbots that talk exactly like an actual person would, thereby selling the illusion that the user is talking to the content creator. But content creators on platforms like OnlyFans are not that worried, or at least, not yet. Creator Laura Lux wrote on Twitter that people don’t subscribe to OnlyFans to see random women naked but rather to see her specifically because of the parasocial relationship (imagined relationship between the audience and an online content creator) they have with her.

So, is it all negative?

The biggest plus point of AI-generated porn is that it can be used to generate content that is far too problematic to put actual people through. It can also be used to bring vintage porn into the digital world. For instance, in 2021, Pornhub used AI to remaster porn from as far back as 1920s into colorized 4K visuals. These films have a lot of historical significance with one of the films (The Kiss, 1986) having the first kissing scene on film ever. 

It can even be used to empower porn stars. A good example of that is how OnlyFans creators used AI last year. They used an AI art filter created by TikTok as a workaround for the platform’s community guidelines around sexual content. The filter generates paintings, and OnlyFans creators used the filter to create suggestive paintings of themselves to encourage people to subscribe to their OnlyFans accounts.

AI is being used to create more unique sexual experiences as well. The startup Very Intelligence Ecommerce Inc (VIECI) created the Autoblow AI, an oral sex toy that replicates human sexual techniques. There are also AI sex robots in the market that not only provide sexual gratification to their users but also companionship. These robots come in-built with conversational AI that allows them to learn about their users and thus become better partners for them. 

All of this should tell you that AI can offer just as much good as it can cause damage. It entirely depends on how the technology is utilized. It is, however, important to be mindful of the ethical questions surrounding AI and to create safeguards, like the ones tech experts have been urging for, to ensure that AI is used in a responsible manner.

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Header image courtesy of Envato.

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