February 24, 2004

(Really) Virtual Sex

The big breakthroughs so rarely come from where we expect them. If an AI chatbot were going to pass the Turing Test, I would expect it to be Alice or McGonz or our good friend Ramona.

Not some porn-site sex-chat program:

But the best candidate for passing the Turing test is the Natachata program that conducts smutty conversations via text messages.

Regular users of pornographic SMS chat may be shocked to find out that they are swapping dirty talk with machines rather than young women and men.

But it's a fair bet that they are because the Natachata chatbot, written by former rocket scientist Simon Luttrell, is so widely used by porn chat merchants.

Hmm...our most cutting-edge technology meets the oldest profession. Actually, I've heard that porn sites were the first web businesses to make money. Maybe it shouldn't be suprising that the sex business provides the first money-making application of a Turing-capable (near-Turing-capable?) artificial intelligence.

The author of the BBC piece finds one aspect of this story disturbing:

Some users work out it is a machine, he said, and never come back. But, worryingly, some like the fact that it is a machine.

"There is about 5% who realise it is a computer and use it even more because of that," said Mr Luttrell.

The folks who like they fact that they're dealing with a machine may be cyber-fetishists, as the author apparently fears. But I think it's more likely that they're married men whose conscience troubles them less about their online recreational activities when there's not another human being involved. In The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil depicts a future in which virtual sex with a real partner is considered sex, while virtual sex with a virtual partner is considered harmless fantasy.

Since the two experiences might be completely indistinguishable, this ethical position is going to require a certain amount of rationalization and hair-splitting. If former President Clinton is still alive, he'll probably write a bestseller on the subject. In any case, these porn customers who have stated a preference for virtual sex-chat partners may well be the pioneers of this soon-to-arrive alien ethical landscape.

We shall see.

via GeekPress

Posted by Phil at February 24, 2004 10:25 AM | TrackBack

I would suspect that the porn industry is pushing the virtual reality envelope more than anthing else. It's just such a dead ringer. It has always seemed that anything the pornographers do makes money. Like you said, they were the first on the internet scene to make money. The problem has always been that act of producing porn has this nasty side-effect of degrading just about everyone involved.

With virtual sex, you basically have a true money-making machine (think slot machine). No harm is done to anyone in the process, except, perhaps, for the receiver. It will really become quite legitimate, I think. Imagine instead of slot machines, whole casino-like kingdoms of virtual sex machines, with all the long-time addicts feeding cups of dollar coins in for a little instant transcendent whoopee.

I would set a couple of them up in my garage to help pay off the house.

Posted by: blacknail at February 24, 2004 04:09 PM

I've just opened a new site which is located at:


The content of which is inspired by a project that I'm currently working on to create a virtual CG supermodel. I've done a lot of research in trying to prepare the project, so I thought I'd just put a site together with all the best reference that I found. Now other artists might be able to find what they're looking for faster than I was able to initially. There's also a tutorial section with the most helpful tips to creating details on a CG human.

Posted by: Wayne at June 24, 2004 09:22 AM

Join the Linux community. Linuxwaves.net

Posted by: Heneage at July 6, 2004 01:04 AM