Over the past few years, the capabilities and possibilities of utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) have become a point of fascination for many in the tech community. Now, it's set to become a huge talking point within the realm of male sex toys, and it's all thanks to the aptly-named Autoblow AI.
The brainchild of veteran sex toy-maker Brian Sloan, the Autoblow AI's ability to deliver a high-tech masturbatory experience has many excited about the possibilities for a product that can anticipate your desires. After all, according to the press release, utilizing machine learning to study the actions of blowjobs, the Autoblow AI has figured out how to "give men 10 different oral sex experiences including one that creates the important human element of surprise" — something they say is an underrated component of the self-pleasure experience.
"Normally for sex toys programming is an afterthought," Sloan explains. "Like, think of women's toys. All they do is vibrate in different modes that some programmer came up with after thinking about it for like two seconds." And it was this line of thinking, combined with Sloan's personal fascination with the potential applications for AI that led him to ask how exactly he could improve the previous iteration of Autoblow.
What resulted was the recruitment of a team of scientists, who studied more than 8,000 minutes of videos containing oral sex performed upon men. Not only that, but in the process, they also managed to produce an entire paper outlining their collected dataset that revealed 16 movements that are "the building blocks of blowjobs."
However, Sloan is also quick to assert that the Autoblow's aim is, counterintuitively, not necessarily sexual. Arguing that the Autoblow is "less of a sexual device and more of a life-enhancing device," Sloan explains that above anything else his goal was to provide people with penises with high-tech, top-of-the-line pleasure.
"It about happiness on demand, an increased level of happiness," he says. " I don't know if it's the thing men would go to for every masturbation session, but it's kind of like if you treat it a little bit special, I think it can deliver an enhanced experience when you want to experience something sexually by yourself."
And it seems like many agree. Thusfar, Autoblow AI has far exceeded its initial goal of $50,000 — raising nearly $300,000 in two months via an Indiegogo campaign, if that's any indication of how eager many people with penises are.
Explaining that all of Autoblow AI's programmed modes uses information already been gathered via their extensive, independent research, Sloan says there's no reason for the device itself to connect to the Internet.
"The problem is that Internet-connected sex toys sound kind of sexy, but the reality is that there are some privacy concerns," Sloan explains, referencing the controversy surrounding We-Vibe's "We-Connect" app. "There are a few sex toys for men that are connected to the Internet, but you're basically taking something simple and [making it way more complicated]."
If anything, Sloan views Internet-connected toys as novelties, arguing that "the moment you have to start configuring, troubleshooting, logging into a platform, and paying monthly bill is the moment masturbation doesn't become fun anymore."
"I think it removes this natural aspect of masturbation," he concludes.
But that doesn't necessarily mean Sloan is a masturbatory mennonite of sorts. In fact, his hesitation appears to stem from his law background and the way the aforementioned We-Vibe class action suit went down.
"It was kind of a B.S. thing, like of course [the manufacturers] want to know the temperature of the product and how it's being used in order to improve it," Sloan says. "They're not hunting down people who use it, but there are some very nasty lawyers who kind of ruin innovation, and I don't believe that was a legitimate privacy concern."
However, lawyers aren't the only ones to watch out for if you manufacture Internet-connected sex toys. "I try to make myself not a target," Sloan continues, explaining he'd rather stay away from a "black hole of scary things" that don't seem to add much to the actual functionality of something like the Autoblow. After all, as he noted, "the minute you connect your product to the Internet, you become a target for hackers, lawyers, and people looking to just cash in on this topic."
Not only that, but Sloan also believes that society-at-large has a lot of catching up to do in terms of destigmatizing male sex toys — especially when it comes to the way big corporations and the media handle products like the Autoblow.
Related | How Afraid of AI Should We Be?
"Female sex toys are about empowerment and the sort of different stories that come with it. It is still true that there's a stigma, and you can see it in Walgreens and Target, because they sell little vibrators now, but they definitely don't sell a masturbator," Sloan says. "These big mega companies still think there's something shameful about male masturbation."
And though there's something to be said about the way female pleasure is continually taken away from women (hence the importance of viewing female masturbation through the aforementioned lens of empowerment), Sloan argues that it's not necessarily an either/or — that there's still a need to destigmatize male masturbation, as well. His approach? A glib, "outrageous" advertising campaign starring himself that ultimately aims to take the Autoblow "out of the sex realm" and into the normalized "gadget" world.
"The way I want to sell Autoblow... it's not a dirty thing. I use myself because I think it's totally OK and normal for men to buy this," Sloan concludes. "At the end of the day, it's just a gadget for your penis. I just want to remove the stigma of it by not relying on sex to sell my male sex devices."
Welcome to "Sex with Sandra," a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, "Sex with Sandra" is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.
Photos courtesy of Autoblow