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A Disconcerting Look At The Future Of Porn

Posted: 22/04/2013 00:00

By Xanthe Hawksley-Walker

Pornography is something that we at Planet Ivy like to think we know a lot about. And, if you are a member of the human race, you probably know at least a little bit about it too.

The nature of pornography is changing constantly, from what's popular to where and how people see it. The internet changed the game considerably, with vast amounts of adult films and images becoming easily and instantly accessible. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is constantly debated, but one thing is very clear - it's not going away.

So that really leaves one question - what's going to happen next?

Well, there's a real possibility of it going virtual. The website Second Life, an online life-simulator 'game', was something that had a dramatic impact on cybersex, it turned up on the games market wearing arse-less chaps and waving the flag of possiblity. It was ground-breaking for many reasons, but in a debaucherous sense because it provided options to animate avatars into pornographic poses, both on their own and in interaction with other avatars.

Games like Skyrim, Assassin's Creed and Final Fantasy have shown that animation is constantly improving - and becoming much closer to looking truly lifelike. In a few years, it's reasonable to assume that games will be available with characters who look (almost) completely human, and who the player has much more flexible control over. Already in games like Mass Effect the ability to shape the avatar's likeness to your own, or Channing Tatum's, is incredible. Based on the current porn industries popularity and economy, it can easily be understood how creating intensely realistic pornographic videogames/simulators could be extremely lucrative. And where there is money, and boobs, there is interest.

Viewing pornography through a screen is one thing, but the next step would be allowing viewers/players to become truly involved in the action. Devices such as the Oculus Rift, which provide a much more immersive experience than the standard game console, are already in development. Of course, although this type of pornography would be far more interactive than what we have now, it's limited in that it's still only visual. The obvious next step is to make (virtual) physical interaction possible. We're talking fibre wire up your nostril - plugged in, logged on, getting off.

Already, sex toys have been invented which imitate real sex organs and respond to remote stimulus. Combining this with the aforementioned virtual porn would definitely be another step, but still a rather rudimentary way of going about it. The next step is clearly a full, virtual reality device, pretty much the kind of thing only really seen in sci-fi films.

But, leaving aside the possibility of the future consisting of everyone living, somewhat Matrix-like, in their own personalised virtual universes, this poses an interesting situation for the porn industry as it stands now. On the one hand, the argument of pornography being exploitative towards the actors/actresses it employs will be redundant if it moves to using virtual avatars, but on the other sweaty palm those same actors will find themselves out of jobs. We question how transferable their skills are.

Another very possible problem with this type of pornography is that, in theory, it would be possible to base avatars on real people, be they celebrities or just people you know from work (creep vibes escalating). The idea of someone having virtual sex with something that looks exactly like you is a little worrying, not to mention highly morally questionable. Already, websites like JibJab allow you to paste your face, or anyone elses, over the top of videos to create bizarre and supposedly entertaining e-cards, videos and graphics. Given the difficulties in regulating the porn industry as it is now, this would probably be very difficult to prevent. Given how our entire social lives are moving online, our faces have never been so exposed.

It's impossible (and wrong) to stop technology from progressing, and just about everything, eventually, ends up being used for some kind of sexual purpose. What we should be hoping for is a much firmer, and better enforced, stance on anything illegal or exploitative, in porn and on the greater internet itself - if that's possible. The recent instances of The Pirate Bay, Silk Road, and Bitcoins are truly setting the internet up to be a case of Frankenstein and the monster.

Porn has always pushed the boundaries of acceptable, if it where to go completely virtual, as all things seem to be doing, then we may be facing many issues of personal copyright infringement. Currently it is technically not possible to copyright your face, you can copyright photo's, sculptures etc, but not your physical appearance. But I don't know how I'd feel if my face turned up on a movie titled Depth Hunters 5 - Colon Invaders.

 

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