Pixels of Pleasure
The Symbiotic loop of Sex, Technology and Culture.
The adult entertainment industry has played a significant role in driving technological and cultural shifts throughout history. This industry's impact is evident in various technological advancements and societal changes, spanning from the early days of film to the modern era of virtual reality (VR) and the internet. That is a reality because, let’s face it, Humanity is horny as hell and we might try to avoid it but we can’t, and we shouldn’t it is ridiculous to try and repress things that bring us joy in this life.
Historical Impact of the Adult Industry in Technology
Technology has been pushed forward in many different historical moments by the loins of humanity, wanting to push forward towards bigger, longer, and better ways to reach their desires or explore new ones. Here are some ways that certain technologies made history thanks to the adult entertainment industry as a throbbing force behind technological and digital innovations.
Early Cinematography: The first known porn film, "Le Coucher de la Mariée" (1896), demonstrated the potential of film as a medium for adult content. The demand for this film indicated a willingness of audiences to pay for such content, marking the birth of porn as a commercial enterprise. I can just imagine the raunchiness this film represented back then and to see this compared to today’s media landscape shows a lot of the evolution and liberation that humanity has had towards greater expression of human sexuality.
8mm Film and Cameras: British photographer Harrison Marks' 8mm short films of women undressing and posing topless in 1958 significantly boosted the sales of 8mm cameras and projectors. The affordability and ease of use of the Super 8 camera made it popular in the porn industry eventually leading this model of the camera into the gateway for some of the greatest minds of Cinema and it was pushed because of its low cost and ease of use. So if you like Spielberg films you gotta thank horny Brits from the 50s for that.
VHS vs Betamax: The format wars have always been a thing and in the case of the VHS its triumph over Sony's Betamax in the 1970s is partly due to the porn industry's preference for VHS tapes, which could hold more footage. This decision greatly influenced home video consumption.
Internet Boom: The exponential growth of adult sites on the Internet from an estimated 70,000 in 2001 to over 26 million demonstrates the significant role of porn in driving the Internet boom so much so that right now porn represents over 12% of all Internet traffic. I cannot NOT share this video whenever I read this data:
Online Credit Card Transactions: The adoption of credit card transactions online was paved by Electronic Card Systems developed by Richard Gordon in the 1990s used primarily for adult entertainment. From this development, Gordon built an online empire and made a fortune from small commissions made for each transaction that was validated using his system. Which is to say my man built an online empire from people enjoying life and paying for porn.
Blu-Ray Vs HD-DVD*: Another format war happened after the dominance of DVDs for video content and when the demand for higher resolutions and more data was to be stored in physical disks. This war was between Sony's Blu-Ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD and just like with VHS tapes, Blu-ray won because it was the format preferred by the adult entertainment industry with Blu-ray giving more storage space for high-definition content.
Video Streaming The adult entertainment industry was a trailblazer in online video streaming technology, long before mainstream platforms like YouTube. The industry pioneered streaming videos and was the first to utilize streaming JPEG push video that functioned seamlessly in browsers without extra plugins. Sadly a complicated litigation involving patent wars eventually extended to mainstream companies, underscoring the adult industry's role in developing online video technologies that have become ubiquitous for various content types, from news to entertainment.
We can see how sex, pleasure, and intimacy will continue to be impacted by technology as we move forward and how the adult industry will have a non-negligible influence on it as well. We can see surely that in the short term as Virtual Reality(VR) becomes more and more present in our lives it is its applications and uses for adult entertainment – not something new– but what might be new could be integration with AI companions – the likes of which we’ve talked about before– where you could be experiencing dates, conversations and more with AI-backed avatars on digital worlds to recreate and explore possibilities and fantasies that might be difficult in the real world.
But also we will see how technology will impact our intimacy and the relationship we have with sex as well. We already have vast data on how much has social media affected us in the ways we relate but how about in the way we view our sexuality? The internet can alter the perception of how and what is to be expected of sex and it can have negative and positive repercussions if handled properly. Also, the use of social media in a good way to educate people about sex can eliminate the taboo that certain societies have on this topic and open up people to information about safe sex and other methods of taking care of all the parties involved.
Of course, these are the early results we get after a whole decade of social media being studied now by academics and how that has impacted us in our sexuality but looking on towards the future no doubt that things will look minuscule compared to the impact that more and more AI will play in our lives we cannot discard the role that it will be playing in how we experience pleasure, how we connect with others sexually and how we connect with ourselves as well.
We have seen the impact of dating apps in relationships and intimacy creating a never-ending market of possibilities but what happens when we create an endless marketplace of intimate AI companions that can provide and optimize in ways to connect and create emotional bonds with non-human intelligences?
WASP Influence: Shaping Digital Discourse and Cultural Norms.
I have always found very interesting the big-picture influence of cultures online and I think that the influence that WASP culture has had on the global discourse is something subtle that we don’t take enough time to acknowledge. Just as a quick introduction WASP culture refers to the culture of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants mainly located in the US and how the views of those groups have in one way or another influenced so much of what we consume online and off as well.
Puritans are a subdivision of followers of the church of England who emerged in the 16th century in England and greatly influenced North American society through their stringent religious beliefs and ethical codes. Focused on moral purity, simplicity in worship, and disciplined community life, they significantly shaped the cultural and social landscape of early America. Their emphasis on education, hard work, and community responsibility left a lasting imprint on American values. Puritanism's legacy in America is evident in various aspects of American life, including its legal system, social norms, and the historical context of American Protestantism.
Now why am I bringing 16th century colonists to a discussion about technology and sex? Well, the effects and influence of Puritan morality have been at the backbone of North American culture with a focus on the repression of human sexuality, pleasure, and the subjugation of women as a breeding machine and as housekeepers. This deep influence was also put into media restricting what artists could or couldn’t do in their own creative expressions and of course when photography and cinema came to the world and started as a thriving industry in Hollywood (running away from Thomas Edison’s Goons) But after some short years of starting the industry felt the criticisms and influence of Puritan and WASP culture over its head which eventually lead to Holywood self-imposing a censorship code called The Hays Code.
This code of conduct had a very powerful tone and it set the stage for what was and wasn’t allowed to be filmed you can argue that the Hays Code has been one of the most important documents in guiding human culture in the 20th century. Guiding what was being produced by the world’s most influential culture-exporting industry from the 1930s until the 1980s and even to this day maybe the code was abandoned but the influence of the Hays code can be felt to this day on how society and culture approach certain topics like drugs, violence and sex. Censoring and claiming some are more harmful for society – always using kids as the scapegoat– while ignoring completely the influence of other parts of the code.
This is the classic debate on how a woman with her bare breasts or nakedness is more damaging to society than an image of a person killing another human with a weapon in a film. So one is censored or restricted while the other becomes the summer blockbuster.
So, has this influence passed down to social media and by consequence to the world itself? I think it has and I haven’t seen a lot of people talking about this topic –or maybe my Google skills suck– Because this WASPy Puritan mindset is such a part of North American Culture of course when a technology company that was founded by people from that culture decides to implement a Community guideline for the content that people can and can not upload to their platforms the bias and influence of centuries of Puritanism is inevitable.
I think it is interesting to see if there has been an influence because it is estimated that around 4.9 Billion people use social media, over half of humanity using social media, and half of humanity is influenced by what they can post, what they can say and what they can upload according to the community guidelines of a half a dozen of American companies in Silicon Valley carrying the cultural baggage of generations of Puritan colonists. So the influence of culture in technology and technology in culture is this ever-present ebb and flow If I had the time and resources I would hire a team of researchers to do a more in-depth analysis on this.
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Are Puritans still in Control?
Technology and sexuality are intertwined as we can see, driving innovation and expanding the ways we connect and explore our sexual identities, which is a wonderful thing don’t get me wrong.
However, the influence of culture on our sexuality cannot be overlooked. Current social media guidelines, deeply rooted in American WASPy Puritan culture, echo the principles of the Hays Code but on a global scale. These guidelines, much like the Hays Code once did for cinema, now shape worldwide perceptions of what constitutes acceptable sexual content. This imposition of a single cultural norm across diverse global audiences risks stifling varied expressions of human sexuality and could hinder a broader understanding and exploration of sexual experiences.
Also, will these influences and perceptions of human sexuality influence the tools and development of future technologies like AI and how could that feed into the autopoietic loop that is AI training data to prevent more restrictions upon human liberties and pathways for people to explore and develop themselves?
The critical question remains: Is this interplay of technology and sexuality beneficial, or are we losing perspective in its complexity? How significantly do these community guidelines impact our global sexual discovery, especially in the era of social media? Do you think these concerns are valid on the big picture or are we getting lost in the sauce?