If you’re naked on the Internet, facial recognition makes your future look grim
“If you’re naked on the internet, people are going to be able to find you, probably for the rest of your life,” says Rich Lee, body hacker and speaker at the 2018 BDYHAX convention’s Sex Tech Friday.
Lee stands in front of the audience in Austin, Texas, to give a glimpse of the future of sex tech. He touches on the subject of sex robots, mentions his invention of an implant that turns a man’s penis into a vibrator, and discusses how gene-editing tools like CRISPR can someday turn us all into sexier creatures.
Of all Lee’s fascinating ideas, there was one that made my mind race and my eyes grow wide and my heart drop down to my butthole: the consequences of facial recognition software.
“There are already search engines where you can enter a screenshot and it will identify people,” Lee tells Rooster a few weeks after his speech.
This technology is something the porn world is actively trying to develop. Porn viewers have long searched for a service that helps them find adult stars who look like their high school crush. A few sites already exist, including Porn World Doppelganger, Porn Star By Face and FindPornFace, in which you can upload a photo of the person you want in your pornography, and the site will spit out a XXX-lookalike.
“That same technology is going to be able to find your face if you have any sexually explicit material on the internet,” Lee says. “In the future, it could aggregate to the point where if you’re going to a job interview, your interviewer can take a photo of you and search the internet for your facial features.”
As someone with dozens of skimpy pics roaming the earth, this conversation was making me sweat bullets. I used to swap nudes like Pokemon cards, and act as if exchanging sexually suggestive photos could keep my long-distance relationship alive. Snapchat just wasn’t around in my horny/hormonal heyday.
To understand how hard it can be to hide a piece of your life from the internet, consider sex workers, who often have two separate identities. One identity is the stripper, the dominatrix, the escort or the camgirl — and the other is the teacher, the nurse or the accountant.
They’ll go to great lengths to keep these two identities separate — to avoid stigma, arrest, attracting clients who could become stalkers or wrecking their professional careers — until the internet outs them.
Leila, a sex worker who used different email addresses, different phone numbers and different names for her separate Facebook accounts soon came to realize the “People You May Know” feature was revealing her real identity to sex work clients.
Facebook doesn't reveal how it connects potential friends, but it could be from using her location, pulling contact information from other apps, or from using facial recognition software that can tell that the escort is the same as the nurse.
“The worst nightmare of sex workers is to have your real name out there, and Facebook connecting people like this is the harbinger of that nightmare,” Leila says to Gizmodo. “With all the precautions we take and the different phone numbers we use, why the fuck are they showing up? How is this happening?”
Whether you’re hiding your real identity from creeper clients or hiding that picture of your freshman-year-spring-break-wet-T-shirt-contest from your potential employer, evolving technology is increasingly uncovering your dirty sexual past.
“The point I was trying to make in my Sex Tech speech is that technology is creating points of no return,” Lee says. “The future of sex tech is not all pretty.”
Tech giants aren’t going to stop their intrusive data collection or slow down the progress they’re making on facial-recognition software. If my nudes are still hiding in the depths of some long-lost MySpace message, they could be unearthed any day now.