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YouPorn are trying to become the robot sommeliers of dirty videos

"This one's corked."

YouPorn are trying to become the robot sommeliers of dirty videos
26 September 2018

You know how Netflix makes recommendations, or Amazon suggests related products. Or Spotify provides you with lovely playlists of stuff it’s somehow psychically predicted you’ll like . Kind of like a sommelier, but not specialising in wine. Just things you like, in a way. Well, imagine if that sommelier was focused on stuff that you don’t tell anybody that you actually like. Well, YouPorn are doing just that. Obviously. 

Based on a user’s activity (and there are a few funny names for that activity!) and preferences, the new feature, For You Weekly, uses what it calls “industry-leading machine learning systems” to conjure up a bespoke weekly playlist intended, among other things, to reduce time spent searching. Less time seeking, more time… squeaking? No, probably not that.

Aside from whether or not porn is or isn’t problematic in 2018, the results might of course be horrifying - just like when Spotify reveals how many times you’ve listened to certain guilty pleasures, except that these guilty pleasures aren’t cheesy pop songs, they’re human beings doing stuff you really hope they’re into, aren’t just doing for the money or under duress, and are still happy with being online. 

It might also produce that feeling YouTube sometimes does if you just let it roll, where it makes assumptions about what you might like that fill you with abject horror and make you question everything you thought you knew about yourself. “What did I do that made you think I’d want to see this? Oh… I guess I am a monster.”

There’s also a playlist-sharing feature, where content creators can distribute the playlists the system has created for them, so you can see what makes your favourite pornographers tick (and do the other thing) (you know the thing). 

Like any other product, it’s worth thinking about the pornography you consume - not just in terms of how it might effect you, but in terms of its origins, who’s profiting from it, every element of it really. If you’ve ever boycotted a product for subjecting its workers to cruel conditions, or denounced a public figure for their problematic behaviour, you owe it to yourself to investigate these things even if just for the purposes of consistency.

Also worth thinking about: Like any free online service, if you aren’t paying for a product, you are the product. This personalisation feature means saying goodbye to Incognito Mode, and requires setting up a profile and logging in every time instead. Sign up for this, and PornHub are about to learn a whole lot more about you, and have more bits of you to sell. This how loads of the internet works, but seems particularly worth thinking about in this specific case - who do you want knowing your self-pleasure schedule? 

And ultimately, do you want to think of your sexual side as being predictable enough that an AI can replace your imagination? 

Maybe. Dunno. A few points to ponder.

(Pic: Pixabay)