Will the Next Generation of Porn Involve Virtual Actors?

Deepfakes, machine learning and the adult entertainment industry converge

Computer graphics
Computer graphics displaying the human body remains a growing field.
SavaM97/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / February 8, 2020 8:34 am

Once, the idea of movies starring an entirely computer-generated character were the stuff of science fiction and satire. But now we live in a world where deepfakes can do uncanny things and long-dead movie stars can be resurrected for roles in new movies. It’s a brave new world out there, and so of course someone’s gone and figured out how these news technologies can be applied to porn.

At The Guardian, Katie Bishop explored just how emerging technologies and machine learning might well end up factoring into the adult film world. The article cites a recent study which explores what people are using deepfake technology for; the answer, overwhelmingly, is pornography.

Also a factor in this discussion? The website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, which features photographs of people who do not actually exist. Creator Philip Wang, whose career also involved a stint at Uber, made use of existing research to create the website, which generates a new face each time it’s visited.

Bishop notes that deepfake technology is beginning to encompass full bodies, which could lead to some applications beyond what the technology’s developers had anticipated.

In April 2019, a Japanese artificial intelligence company developed an AI that can automatically generate entire bodies in motion. Although they envisaged this being used for advertising, the already disproportionate use of GANs for pornographic purposes means that it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine how this new algorithm might be used in a similar way.

Adult film industry insiders are aware of the technology, and have mixed opinions of it, to say the least. “The whole deepfake situation is a deeply unsettling concept because it’s mostly men using women to harm other women,” said Ela Darling of Viro Club. But it’s also an industry characterized by its ability to adapt to technological advances, suggesting that the future of both the industry and this new technology is still very much uncharted.

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