On Westworld, Pornbots, And The Decline Of Porn-Centered Technology

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday, I watched Westworld, which Gini proclaimed to be “The dumbest movie I’ve seen you watch.”
I’ll accept that. Westworld is a 1970s film that’s basically Michael Crichton’s precursor to Jurassic Park – we’ve finally invented robots so realistic that you can’t tell them apart from human beings, so there’s a gigantic amusement park where rich people go to live out their fantasies of killing and fucking people.  There’s Westworld, Medieval World, and Roman World –
And I know you won’t believe this, guys, but things go wrong with the robots and lots of tourists die when the killbots’ safety switches go awry.  (Or maybe you saw the parody in that Simpsons episode.)
What I love about Westworld, I think, is how much it jabs my worldbuilding mode.  This couldn’t possibly work, not if there were other humans attending.  Sure, the guns are heat-sensitive and won’t fire if they’re pointed at a human body – but what about ricochets or bullets punching through walls?  Shit, there’s a bar fight every day where the humans beat up robots, but what happens when a human takes a swing at the indistinguishable-from-other-robots accidentally breaks another human’s nose?  You couldn’t possibly maintain a flawless illusion and keep people safe.
Furthermore, the robots – the most valuable thing in the entire park – are actually being shot and stabbed and wrecked every day.  The movie shows the absurdly large staff of repairmen who are fixing degrading robots because people are firing actual goddamned bullets into these things. And I don’t know about you, but a business model based on “We shoot up delicate machinery every day” is gonna be more expensive than an amusement park.
No.  What that would be used for is military training.
Anyone who follows the military knows that their primary goal is to get soldiers used to the chaos of combat.  There’s a lot of debate as to the specifics, but somewhere between 30 and 70% of people will not shoot a person without extensive training to get rid of the reluctance to kill.  Even if they’re in mortal danger.
Plus, there’s a lot of shock in combat.  Watching your friends die is something that’s hard to train for.  Seeing actual explosions that might kill you is hard to train for.  There’s a military camp devoted to simulating urban combat right now, and they have an Iraqi marketplace that has real fake grenade launchers that burst in your vicinity and have fake guts laced with a fake smell of lacerated bowels that pop out when people get shot.
Strategic Operations would be all over robots you couldn’t distinguish from humans.  And it’d cost millions to get each of ’em working, but the military has lots of cash.
There’d be no Westworld.  There’d be a combat zone that gets out of hand.
I ventured this on Twitter the other day, and people said, “Naw, man!  You know porn would be the first uses of these robots!”  And unfortunately, you guys are behind the times.
Porn’s now the trailing edge of tech.
Time was that porn was the first use of every new technology – hey, VHS, DVDs, streaming video, all porn!  But there’s been a lot of factors that have condemned porn to the shadows, not least of which is that credit card companies and PayPal have all decided to choke porn off at the source.
Wanna get paid?  PayPal will freeze your account if they discover you’re using porn, and you’ll never get the funds.  Most credit card processors won’t work with you.  FetLife – the largest kinky social network – actually had to turn off its “paid account” function for several months because they couldn’t source a way for people to pay them aside from sending checks in the mail.
If you’re trying to make cash in porn, you’re starting out behind the 8-ball because America loves porn but hates to be seen watching porn.
And that’s a problem when so much of the leading edge of tech is scale – specifically Big Data and combining billions of bits of feedback to provide targeted results.  Netflix’s and Google’s power isn’t in the idea, it’s in how much power they apply to the idea.  There were streaming movies and search engines before, but what made Netflix and Google necessary was in throwing hundreds of combined servers into analyzing data and providing feedback that gives you precisely what you want when you want it.  Google’s useful because it combines hundreds of factors when you type in “thai seafood” to look through your history and your location and what millions of other people finally clicked on when they looked up those two words to provide you with the best thai seafood restaurant within 20 miles of you.
If you’re a porn site, there’s no way you could afford that.  You’d get shut down before you could spin up all those servers.  There are a handful of sites that are attempting to be next-gen (Videobox, anybody?), but even their next-gen attempt at porn feels a lot like Netflix from three years ago.
(And that’s assuming that people would pay, when thieving alternatives like PornHub are available.)
Furthermore, the new technologies are much more sandboxed than they used to be.  Hey, wouldn’t you think the iPhone would be perfect for new porn technologies?  Well, it would be, but Apple won’t approve your app, so fuck off.  Wouldn’t Google Glass or the Oculus Rift be perfect for titillating three-D porn?  Yeah, but they’re not going to approve your app, either.
Most of the new technologies in place have locked out porn specifically because they know it’ll get their funding cut and/or won’t be family-friendly, and so the porn advance has pretty much stopped.  Oh, there’s people out there hacking their vibrators the best they can, but the concept of the porn industry driving technology has run out of gas.
So I hate to tell you: if and when the indistinguishable-from-human-robots come along, they’re going to be spurting blood, not semen.
Don’t like that?  Go yell at PayPal.

1 Comment

  1. Follette
    Mar 25, 2016

    Ok. So recommendations on how to go yell at PayPal? You think a petition would work? Maybe someone doing some crowdfunding? I dunno. How would you start up a bank/payment system that’s porn exclusive so that people could get their shit done? Do eastern countries, where porn SEEMS less restricted, or European countries have less issues with this? Just spitballing.

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