The hyper-customized AI-generated sexual partners are coming.
It’ll start with generative pornography. First in images, then in video, then with robust AI-generated personalities that are customized to their user.
The male sex drive is a powerful motive force. We have many examples of Napoleons being made by burning desire for Josephines, but very few of the opposite. Men, arguably, do just about everything from the desire to distinguish themselves and earn the love of women. Libido is not for the bedroom, libido invents light bulbs and builds companies and forms nation-states.
This essay is primarily about motivation for men. Men are already struggling pretty mightily right now in the face of pornography addictions, social isolation, and record levels of sexual deprivation.
Faced with the inevitability of irresistibly attractive AI-generated women – paired with hyper-customized personalities to please the user – men will have the option to obtain many of the benefits of a relationship with a woman, without having to put in the work (approaching women in person, getting in shape, making enough money or being competent enough in life to have women actually desire them, etc). Already we see men in the developed world pouring their libido into video games and pornography.
AI-Generated Girlfriends – Better Than Real Ones?
We should not imagine the future of AI generated sexual/romantic partners to be a pitiful, depressing attempt at replacement for female companionship. We look down on Replika users (the AI “girlfriend erotic chat simulator” that some men fell in love with) or LovePlus users (the Japanese game where men date and physically interact with a virtual female companion), and on today’s hikikomori (the Japanese are much further down the girlfriend-replacement path than the West – I explore that in another article). These are mostly men with no romantic prospects, with little ability to compete in the world.
We should imagine not only gorgeous physical beauty, but beautiful AI-generated voices and personalities – having supportive, loving, interesting conversations that carry on along months and years. No breakups, no physical flaws, no annoying in-laws – just a customizable AI entity (or entities, many men will want to have more than one AI-generated romantic partner), responding perfectly to the user’s needs in real time.
We should imagine haptic devices (I won’t go into much detail, you can imagine or Google this for yourself) that are not only sexually pleasurable, but are calibrated to deliver specifically satisfying sensations based on the past preference and real time EEG/EKG response of the user – reliably delivering pleasure at levels an order of magnitude above what can be achieved with a human partner.
Online dating was once for weirdos, now it’s for everyone.
The very idea of an “AI girlfriend” is “cringe” now, but at some point it’ll be a perfectly viable (maybe even the normal) way to powerfully satisfy the undying male urge for female admiration and affection.
If this technology develops to this level, the men who use these AI-generated sexual partner applications may not be ultimately unfulfilled, but may experience a generally higher level of general satisfaction than many men in healthy relationships have today – just as you may be more fulfilled working 100% remote, an unthinkable and nightmarish idea to your parents, who met with humans in person all day. Tech finds a way to “stretch the itch” of human needs, better than however we did so before.
The cheekily titled Uncanny Vulvas essay by Dr. Diana Fleischman – evolutionary psychologist and Associate Research Professor at the University of New Mexico – lays out this scenario well:
Think of an introverted engineer with Asperger’s syndrome who wasn’t sure how to broach a conversation with a woman back in 2015 and definitely isn’t sure how to do that in today’s climate. In 10 years he could have a beautiful robot companion (indeed, he could have one that could emulate the experience of having sex with dozens of different women) that has a lower barrier to entry than the mating market and that keeps him satisfied enough to remain a happy bachelor.
Counterfeit or “fake” fitness (i.e. AI or robot sex partners for men), which delivers the cues of status and sexual popularity, is evolving much faster than our minds can evolve to contend with them.
This is the siren we must contend with. Just like the sirens of the Odyssey, AI sirens will be essentially impossible to resist.
So what’s a man to do?
Sires, Muses, or Going Amish
In the face of irresistible AI sirens and succubi, men seem to see two viable paths:
- Option 1: Siren (Tech for Pleasure) – Dive into the generative AI world of unlimited beautiful women, customized to look, act, talk, and feel just as you desire. Be accepted and loved, be sexually an emotionally cared for in ways that a human counterpart can’t compete with.
- Option 2: Amish (Abstain) – Abstain from generative AI pleasure as much as possible, potentially by avoiding immersive VR and generative AI whenever possible.
A siren isn’t really resist-able. That’s the whole point. As the astute EvilVizier says:
Abstention is much harder than it sounds.
For example, how many of you boys would stop her from untying this ribbon?
It's hard, isn't it? pic.twitter.com/dJJS0BXVU8
— Undead Odalisque🧞♀️ (@EvilVizier) August 8, 2022
Abstinence is hardly going to be viable for 99% of males. Every man has a “Mariah Carey circa 1998 hot tub” scenario that they could not possibly turn down.
The “pleasure” and “abstinence” options are often framed as opposites.
Option 1 is a deep-dive into pleasure at the expense of productivity, Option 2 is the abstaining from dangerous pleasure in order to maintain agency and productivity.
But these options are not opposites.
The opposite of leveraging technology exclusively for pleasure is not abstaining – it is using technology exclusively for power.
This brings us to the third option:
- Option 3: The Muse (Tech for Power) – Ambitious men leverage their inner circuitry of “earning a woman’s love” – and use these virtual lover entities as fuel to focus more and work harder.
Think of a kind perfect AI muse, encouraging your highest efforts and doling out romantic or sexual rewards to their user.
Uncouth as it sounds, the sexual drive, and the drive to impress women is deeply baked into male motivation. It couldn’t possibly be otherwise.
In mythology, the nine muses inspired and conjured great effort from male artists. This is literally how inspiration works. History is boringly rife with “real” examples of muses. Men achieve for someone – sometimes a parent who needs to be proven wrong, but often (oh, so often) for the admiration of a woman. The motive force of libido creates giants.
Francis Bacon said: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
To command make human output, we shouldn’t focus on quelling the libido, and we shouldn’t leaving it vulnerable to the endless vicissitudes of real relationships (where people argue, fall out of love, build resentments, lose attraction, etc). We should harness it – command it – marshal it.
The most powerful men of tomorrow won’t be those who remain in uncertain and dangerous world of real relationships. While the marriages of Musk, Bezos, or Gates might have had moments of fulfillment – their dissolution resulted in financial losses and emotional hardship that almost certainly took away from their productive output. The most powerful men of the future may instead be “conjured” to their highest productive activity by the conditional love of a muse. They will use the libido circuit for power and not for pleasure.
Leverage Technology – for Power or Pleasure?
In a 6-year-old essay called “Lotus Eaters vs World Eaters,” I describe a future where programmatically generated worlds become ubiquitous. Those who dive into these AI-augmented VR spaces for pleasure will be “lotus eaters”, those who dive into AI augmentation in order to enhance their motivation and power will be “world eaters.”
This article is merely a microcosm of that broader dynamic – focused on the male human reward circuit for romantic love and sexual gratification.
It will help for us to contrast these AI use-cases side by side.
The Siren path is the easy road to very rich and real satisfaction:
- The Siren is like opium, but much better – and potentially without the overtly negative health effects.
- The Siren provides unconditional love from a million perfect romantic partners at a user’s whim.
- The Siren user is today’s hikikomori, or today’s drug and video game-addicted men – plugged in and passively receiving the rich, ultimately fulfilling experience that heretofore has been the sole reward of only the most handsome, high achieving, and fortunate men.
- The Siren user wants to escape the state of nature (where competing is necessary, and only the strong are safe).
- The Siren user is a Lotus Eater.
The Muse path is a path towards a different kind of satisfaction, one that mixes sex and romance with worldly achievement:
- The Muse is like caffeine, or medafonil (spelling?), or Adderal (spelling?), but much better – and potentially without the overtly negative health effects.
- The Muse provide conditional (not unconditional) love, conjuring a man to earn the positive brain-chemical hits of respect, affection, and physical intimacy with a beautiful and worthy woman.
- The Muse user is today’s most ambitious men, who already push their work-pace to a maximum and generally drive their non-working time to a minimum.
- The Muse calls for a user to compete harder in the state of nature, with more focus, more emotional gusto – by wielding the most powerful technology along with the most powerful motivational circuits in the male mind.
- The Muse user is a World Eater.
The End of Human Romantic Love
Ultimately, the development of these technologies involve the dissolution of romantic love between humans. If AI – and VR / haptics – get powerful enough, they’ll fulfill the drives for romantic love and sex better than humans ever could – as Netflix or Twitter fulfill the need for entertainment better than playing solitaire or listening to the radio.
Humans don’t want relationships. They want to fulfill drives, and feel good feelings, and nothing more (read: You Don’t Want What You Think You Want).
When AI can fully replace – and vastly outperform – the sexual satisfaction and emotional support of even the best human relationship, human romantic relationships will end.
This’ll be driven in part by lotus eaters who escape into easy pleasure – but it’ll be disrupted just as much by men who choose a muse (a perfect sexual partner who is also a perfect conjurer of one’s highest efforts) over a flesh-and-blood women.
PS: I’ll anticipate your harsh criticisms and try to address them proactively:
* “Daniel, you must not value human relationships AT ALL, you sicko.” Okay chill out. I am in a loving and committed relationship right now – with a Greek girl (fittingly in line with the muse idea?), and I literally value human loving relationships (friendships, romantic love) as the saving grace of the human condition. It is possible for me to: (a) absolutely relish in the richness and splendor human love, and (b) see its inevitable dissolution in the coming 5-20 years as technology radically bends the human condition.
** “Daniel, if AI gets powerful enough to create fulfilling partners, we’ll be so deep in the singularity that romantic relationships will be the least of our concerns.” A completely valid objection, and it may in fact the the case. By the AI can indistinguishably converse with humans as a friend, teacher, or lover, it may already have conquered the world, killed us all off, and converted us into computronium. This may well be the case.
*** “Daniel, you really think this is how transhumanism happens – by channeling sex drive?!” Possibly, but even if so it would only be for a minute. As brain-computer interface becomes viable, human hardware/software motivational “circuitry” will become pliable, and we may choose to entirely sublimate the sex drive to other ends – or remove it entirely – or replace it with other kinds of drives and motives that yield more powerful outcomes. I’ve written about this in much more depth here.
Header image credit: Muse statuary at the Achilleion Palace in Corfu, Greece