So that’s what AI is good for

There is this obsessed congresscreature from Missouri, Ann Wagner, who really really hates porn (she’s a Republican, as if you couldn’t guess.) She’s been crusading against sex workers for years, and her latest idea is that she wants to shut down OnlyFans, because, she claims, it enables sex trafficking. She’s full of it.

However, the one good thing she has done is that she motivated an OnlyFans performer, Cherie DeVille, to write a defense of OnlyFans’ techniques to prevent abuse of the site. You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a site there, and they are extremely strict about preventing minors from getting access, and to prevent its use for prostitution. I was impressed at the level of scrutiny they apply to their performers to make sure there is no non-consensual imagery.

Anti-porn zealots act as if OnlyFans tries to post non-consensual sexual content. But sex workers’ experiences tell a different story. One of my friends had surgery on her labia, and when she returned from the doctor and resumed posting, OnlyFans flagged her content. OnlyFans uses AI to monitor people, and its AI identified her labia as a different woman’s vulva. The site prevented her from airing the content without uploading an ID for this supposed new individual. I struggle to imagine a non-consensual porn epidemic on OnlyFans when it’s this strict about identifying individual vulvas.

That seems redundant and excessive to me. You know they’ve got lots of human eyeballs staring at bits of human anatomy, wouldn’t having users flag surprises in their videos be sufficient, without using computers to stare, too? They’re burning bandwidth that someone has to pay for! Also, I worry about what we’re training AI to become.


  1. numerobis says

    Aha! So this is how the GOP can check your genitals before letting you into the bathroom of your choice. Just upload a picture to the cloud, and have AI gaze at it.

  2. raven says

    … and they are extremely strict about preventing minors from getting access, …

    How do they do that?
    Asking for a friend.

    Actually, I really don’t have any idea how they check for age on internet porn sites.
    I’ve never visited Onlyfans and it just isn’t too high on my list of websites to visit.
    I thought it was hard which is why Pornhub keeps pulling out of states that pass age restricted laws.

  3. raven says

    The minimum age for OnlyFans users is 18. To open a creators account, users must provide a photo of themselves (a “selfie”) along with a form of photo ID to confirm their age. To create a subscribers account, there are no rigorous age verification methods.

    OK, this is what Google has to say.
    In fact, the link I hit took me to…the Onlyfans website.

    .1. They do carefully screen their creator’s accounts for age.
    .2. They don’t carefully screen their viewer’s accounts for age.
    I suppose as long as the credit card or other payment methods work, they don’t much care.

    .3. I do quite often get messages on web pages asking me if I am over 18. Often for innocuous content that isn’t porn, lately involving the war in Ukraine for some reason.
    I correctly tell the web page that yeah, I’m over 18.
    How rigorous is that anyway?
    I’d be surprised if anyone has ever said no, I’m not over 18.

  4. robro says

    Still wondering what AI is used for? Almost any paper-pushing redundant task that can be defined by rules can benefit from some form of AI whether it’s natural language processing, image processing, etc. with some human-in-the-loop supervision.

    I recently got an estimate for auto body repairs from our insurance company which had this paragraph in it:


  5. lotharloo says

    I’m looking forward to the future applications of this AI to replace “facial recognition login” systems which use public features with new systems that uses more private information.

  6. robro says

    Ok…here’s the ultimate use of high-tech systems:

    Tech Brings Loved Ones ‘Back to Life
    As part of its 3D metaverse platform, the Czech Republic’s Somnium Space has created a VR tool that lets users create avatars that can speak to family members and future generations after they die. Called “live forever mode,” the tool requires only 30 minutes of observation to simulate a person’s voice, mannerisms, and movements. Somnium Space says it does not keep any of the data used to train the avatar on its servers; it is stored locally on users’ computers, so they can control how much to keep.

    If you want to read more about this wondrous application you can find it here on Sky News.

  7. robro says

    And another one, also from the ACM TechNews email I get. If you’re wondering why AI related technologies are booming right now, I think this suggests an answer:

    U.S. Military’s Investments into AI Skyrocket
    The Brookings Institution reported a nearly 1,200% surge in the potential value of AI-related U.S. government contracts, from $355 million in the year ending in August 2022 to $4.6 billion in the year ending in August 2023. The U.S. Department of Defense accounted for the majority of the total, with $557 million committed by the agency to AI-related contracts, rising to $4.3 billion if each contract were extended to its fullest terms.

    This one is from Time magazine.

    It doesn’t take an AI or a genius to know that when the US government pumps that much money into military related development, you’re going to have a lot of “progress”…of some sort, or other.

  8. seachange says

    Our military wastes a prodigious amount of money on ridiculous things. Because they can.

  9. John Morales says

    In the news: AI photos show people with secondary breast cancer their lost future

    Like all the other participants, Louise has secondary breast cancer, which occurs when cancer cells spread from the breast to other parts of the body, making the disease treatable, but incurable.

    Now 58, she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022 which then spread to her liver. In February an MRI scan showed lesions on her brain and she was told she had a life expectancy of about six months.

    Louise’s image at the exhibition shows her celebrating her 60th birthday by performing with her amateur dance company Chelsea Ballet, while her husband of 30 years Barry looks on with pride.

    Seeing it for the first time was understandably emotional.

    “The photo was just amazing… it was just beautiful, just beautiful,” she said.

    “Seeing it was overwhelming, but overwhelming in a good way.”

  10. Nathaniel Hellerstein says

    What are we training Ai to be? We’re training them to be like us. Note for instance that LLMs tend to lie and have hallucinations. They won’t be angels, and they won’t be devils; we don’t deserve either. They’ll be funhouse reflections of ourselves, weird but revealing, which is exactly what we deserve.

  11. Nathaniel Hellerstein says

    By the way, in my preceding post I used “Ai” instead of “AI”. I did to distinguish it from “Al”, as in A.L., for Alan or Alfred. Also because they display intelligence, not Intelligence.

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