As I’ve written several times before here on Thought Shrapnel, society seems to act as though the giant, monolithic, hugely profitable porn industry just doesn’t… exist? This despite the fact it tends to be a driver of technical innovation. I won’t get into details, but feel free to search for phrases such as ‘teledildonics’.

So this article from the new (and absolutely excellent) 404 Media on a venture capitalist firm’s overview of the emerging generative AI industry shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. As a society and as an industry, we don’t make progress on policy, ethics, and safety by pretending things aren’t happening.

As the father, seeing this kind of news is more than a little disturbing. And we don’t deal with all of it by burying our head in the sand, shaking our head, or crossing our fingers.

The Andreesen Horowitz (also called a16z) analysis is derived from crude but telling data—internet traffic. Using website traffic tracking company Similarweb, a16z ranks the top 50 generative AI websites on the internet by monthly visits, as of June 2023. This data provides an incomplete picture of what people are doing with AI because it’s not tracking use of popular AI apps like Replika (where people sext with virtual companions) or Telegram chatbots like Forever Companion, which allows users to talk to chatbots trained on the voices of influencers like Amouranth and Caryn Marjorie (who just want to talk about sex).


What I can tell you without a doubt by looking at this list of the top 50 generative AI websites is that, as has always been the case online and with technology generally, porn is a major driving force in how people use generative AI in their day to day lives.


Even if we put ethical questions aside, it is absurd that a tech industry kingmaker like a16z can look at this data, write a blog titled “How Are Consumers Using Generative AI?” and not come to the obvious conclusion that people are using it to jerk off. If you are actually interested in the generative AI boom and you are not identifying porn as core use for the technology, you are either not paying attention or intentionally pretending it’s not happening.

Source: 404 Media Generative AI Market Analysis: People Love to Cum