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HomeSECURITYHow deepfake technology is changing our understanding of sexual fantasies and morality

How deepfake technology is changing our understanding of sexual fantasies and morality


How deepfake technology is changing our understanding of sexual fantasies and morality

We discuss ethical issues and consequences of using AI in pornography.

April 10 was a tough day for the famous gamer and YouTuber Atrioc (Brandon Ewing). During his regular Twitch stream, he accidentally exposed the contents of his browser to the audience. For a few moments, viewers witnessed what appeared to be porn deepfakes featuring female YouTubers and gamers QTCinderella and Pokimane, who are colleagues and apparently friends of Ewing. Moments later, a viewer uploaded a screenshot of the scene to Reddit, and so the scandal began.

Deepfakes, in a general sense, are media content that has been altered by artificial intelligence, usually to superimpose one person’s face on top of another, such as an actor in a movie or video. However, its primary use is to create celebrity porn and, more troublingly, to visualize sexual fantasies about friends or acquaintances.

Most people understand that Ewing has committed some kind of transgression by consuming his friends’ fake but unwanted porn. Indeed, the comments on Reddit and the strong (justified) reactions of the women whose faces were used in the clips are indicative of a deep sense of disgust. This is understandable, but pinpointing exactly where the crime lies is surprisingly difficult. Apparently, the crime lies in the very consumption of deepfakes, and not in the consequences of this action. The use of deepfakes is wrong, without reservation, regardless of whether people “playing” in the clips or someone else finds out about it.

At the same time, we believe that sexual fantasies are morally neutral. But what is the real difference? Both fantasy and deepfake are virtual images created from previous data, only one exists in the head and the other on the screen. This question raises a dilemma: where to draw the line between personal fantasy and what we recognize as morally unacceptable?

In the future, this will likely force us to rethink our moral attitudes towards deepfakes and sexual fantasies. There are two obvious ways to develop this situation. First, we can start accepting pornographic deepfakes as a normal way to fantasize about sex, delegating some of the work that used to happen in the head to machines. Second, we may begin to question the moral neutrality of sexual fantasies in general. For example, many believe that sexual fantasies involving children or severe violence are morally unacceptable.

Deepfakes can make us think even deeper by raising questions about the moral status of our personal data. With the advent of the Internet, we are forming a new attitude towards the moral status of our personal information. Most residents today believe that everyone should be in complete control of information related to their personality. But this, strictly speaking, also includes data stored in other people’s heads. Perhaps we will eventually come to the conclusion that we can control other people’s imaginations, which at first glance seems like a wild assumption.

Overall, this incident is a reminder that with the advent of new technologies, we have to face new ethical issues that require discussion and a reasonable approach.

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