Deepfake AI Porn: Legalities, Ethics and the Impact on Relationships

With the advancements of artificial intelligence (AI) ever accelerating, soon enough, it was going to permeate the porn industry. Well, here we are. AI porn is now a very real option out there. And like with any artificial intelligence development, a wave of ethical issues has followed. 

In 2019, 96% of the 14,000 deepfake videos found online were porn. To understand the arguments for and against, we’re going to look at what deepfake porn is, how it works, and whether it is legal before considering the ethical implications. We’ll also be asking the question, how will AI porn impact human relationships?

What is AI porn and deepfake?

AI porn, also known as deepfake porn, refers to explicit content that’s created using artificial intelligence algorithms. These algorithms manipulate or fabricate images and videos, typically by superimposing someone’s face onto the body of a pornographic actor. However, sometimes the images are created completely by AI and are not modelled on a single person.

It involves combining deep learning techniques, computer vision, and generative models to create realistic-looking explicit content. But how exactly does it work?

How does AI porn work?

Here’s a general overview of how deepfake porn works:

  1. Data collection: To create AI porn, a significant amount of data is required. This includes explicit content featuring pornographic actors, as well as non-explicit content featuring the person whose face will be superimposed (referred to as the “target individual”).
  2. Face detection and extraction: The AI algorithm analyzes the explicit content to identify the faces of the actors and the target individual. It uses computer vision techniques to detect and extract facial features and expressions.
  3. Deep learning model training: Deep learning algorithms, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) or generative adversarial networks (GANs), are trained using the collected data. These models learn to understand the facial features, expressions, and body movements of both the actors and the target individual.
  4. Face swapping: Once the deep learning models are trained, they can be used to swap the faces of the target individual onto the bodies of the actors. The algorithm applies the learned facial features, expressions, and movements of the target individual onto the explicit content, creating a manipulated video or image.
  5. Realism refinement: Additional post-processing techniques may be applied to enhance the realism of the AI-generated content. These techniques can involve adjusting lighting, color, and texture to make the manipulated content appear more authentic.

Ultimately, this results in a video or image that is often hard to determine whether it is real or AI. This is where ethical issues start to arise, so is this a legal practice?

Deep learning consists of multiple hidden layers in an artificial neural network to model the way the human brain works.

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Is AI porn legal?

Determining whether AI porn is legal is a tricky subject. It depends on a lot of factors that are often difficult to find out, like whether the target individual consented to the content and the age of those involved.

However, even if the act of creating the content was illegal, there is not much that authorities can do once it has started to circulate. Let’s look at some of the legal considerations:

Non-consensual content laws

In many jurisdictions, the creation and dissemination of AI porn without the consent of the individuals involved is illegal. This includes using someone’s likeness without permission, particularly if it involves explicit content or if it causes harm, harassment, or emotional distress.

The recent and terrifying phenomenon of revenge porn refers to people sharing or creating explicit content of someone to ‘revenge’ them, often after a breakup. Some jurisdictions have specific revenge porn laws that address the non-consensual sharing of explicit content, which can include AI porn. These laws aim to protect individuals from having intimate images or videos distributed without their consent, regardless of whether the content is manipulated or real.

Similarly, there are privacy laws in place in the majority of countries that can help crack down on non-consensual AI porn. Privacy laws vary from country to country, but individuals generally have a reasonable expectation of privacy over their own images and personal information.

Child exploitation laws

The use of minors’ images in AI porn is illegal in most jurisdictions due to child exploitation laws. Even if the explicit content is manipulated or fabricated, the use of underage individuals is strictly prohibited and can lead to severe legal consequences.

While the laws are certainly more strict when it comes to child pornography, there is still the possibility for lots of content of minors to circulate without serious repercussions. 

Recently a man from Canada was jailed for three years for using deepfake technology to create indecent images and videos of children. Canadian laws ban any visual representation depicted as being under the age of 18 engaged in explicit sexual activity, so this would include all types of AI-generated content. However, many countries don’t have the same legalities in place to tackle the complications that come with artificial intelligence.

Intellectual property rights laws

Using copyrighted images or videos without proper authorization may infringe on intellectual property rights. If the original content used in AI porn is protected by copyright, the creation and distribution of such material may be subject to legal consequences. 

Again, this can be difficult to determine because you can feed huge amounts of data to an AI in order for it to generate content, so the original content used can be difficult to identify. 

Advances in automation and social networking have allowed deepfakes to spread with greater speed, reach, volume, and coordination.

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What are the ethical issues with AI porn?

It’s probably becoming clear that there are a huge amount of ethical issues when the AI world mixes with the porn industry. 

  • Consent: There are serious concerns about consent, as individuals’ images can be used without their permission, violating their privacy and potentially causing harm.
  • Misuse and exploitation: AI porn technology can be misused for harassment, bullying, or blackmail purposes. Individuals can be targeted by having their images manipulated and used in explicit content against their wishes. This can have severe psychological and emotional consequences for the victims.
  • Easier to spread and create child pornography: AI porn raises concerns about the potential for exploiting minors by using their images in explicit content. This can have devastating effects on the individuals involved and is a violation of child protection laws.
  • Legalities and credibility: The fast-paced development of AI porn has outpaced legal and regulatory frameworks. It can be challenging to address these issues effectively as legislation struggles to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology.
  • Authenticity: As AI porn becomes more prevalent, it is increasingly difficult to determine the authenticity of explicit content. This erosion of trust can have far-reaching consequences, impacting personal relationships, legal proceedings, and public perception.
Birds eye view of hands on a laptop on an orange background. Coming out of the laptop is lots of angry emojis and blurred images.

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How will AI porn impact human relationships?

AI porn has the potential to impact human relationships in several ways, although the specific effects can vary depending on individual circumstances. It’s important to note that the impact of AI porn on relationships is not universally negative or uniform. 

Some individuals and couples may navigate these challenges successfully by fostering open communication, setting boundaries, and addressing concerns together. Additionally, technology can also be used positively to enhance relationships, such as exploring shared interests or engaging in digital intimacy in consensual and responsible ways. 

Here are a few potential impacts:

Objectification and unrealistic expectations 

AI porn often depicts idealized and unrealistic bodies, behaviors, and scenarios. Exposure to such content may influence individuals’ perceptions of beauty and sexual performance, potentially leading to unrealistic expectations within relationships. This can place pressure on partners to conform to unrealistic standards or lead to dissatisfaction if reality falls short of the idealized imagery.

Emotional and psychological impact

For individuals who discover that their partner has consumed or shared AI porn without their knowledge or consent, it can cause emotional distress, feelings of betrayal, and a sense of violation. The feeling of intimacy and connection within the relationship can be damaged as a result.

The availability and accessibility of AI porn can also potentially disrupt communication and intimacy between partners. If one partner consistently turns to AI porn for sexual gratification or fantasy fulfilment, it may lead to reduced interest or satisfaction in real-life sexual experiences. 

Relationship boundaries and fidelity 

The use of AI porn, especially when involving manipulated explicit content featuring other people, can raise questions about fidelity and relationship boundaries. If one partner engages in AI porn that involves the likeness of others, it may blur the lines between what is considered acceptable within the relationship and what constitutes infidelity.

Man and woman sat on the floor. Man looking at his phone and woman looking sad.

Conclusion

We are all individuals and have a right to form our own opinions, but it’s important to understand the ethical issues involved before taking part in something, especially when the repercussions can be as harmful and damaging as they are in the porn industry. 

There are lots of apps and websites out there advertising the ability to create your own porn. Make sure you consider everything in this article before deciding to take part.

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