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Technology Will Continue To Reduce Birth Rates In 2017
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Every year, we reach new heights in dating technology, as apps, platforms, and gadgets become more deeply entangled in our relationships. No doubt, dating in 2017 will not be materially different from what it was like in 2016—a year tends not to make a lot of difference—but we can certainly glean a picture of what sex and love will look like in the not-so-distant future and beyond.
In a way, pop culture is already showing us. One of the most acclaimed TV dramas of the year, HBO's Westworld, is set in an enormous Dionysian amusement park in which humans indulge their sexual and emotional fantasies with lifelike robots. We're not there yet, but this past April, a Hong Kong designer unveiled his very own humanoid robot that looked remarkably similar to actress Scarlett Johansson. This blond-haired, green-eyed clone—the tinkerings of a hobbyist—was made from silicon, plastic, and circuit boards rather than flesh and blood. Though she wasn't outfitted with artificial intelligence, the soft construction of her face and slight gape of her pouty pink lips are so nearly real that a world populated by Westworld-like robots doesn’t feel far off.
In the meantime, adventurous love-seekers can explore many technologies that are emerging right now.

Headsets took off in 2016, with launches from Oculus Rift, Vive, Daydream View, and PS VR. And while initial sales were deemed low, the technology is still gaining traction. As Stephanie Lamas, director of research for Superdata, noted at the VRX Conference in San Francisco, 16 million people will be using virtual reality by the end of the year. Naturally, the two earliest arrivals to the VR scene are gamers and pornographers.
The abundance of VR equipment has spawned both virtual-reality porn platforms and adults-only social networks. Porn sites like Camsoda, BaDoinkVR, and Naughty America are all encouraging us to strap a headset to our face and try out the latest in masturbation tech. To accompany you on your journey are familiar tools revamped for the virtual-reality era. Fleshlights have morphed into mechanical twerking butts, phone sex has given way to teledildonics, and soon blow-up dolls will be AI-enhanced Realdolls. And there’s more. Just last month, CamSoda debuted a catalog of virtual blow jobs, which replicate the feeling (via a connected "sleeve") of a cam girl fellating a smart dildo.

Role-playing games are cropping up as a sort of preamble to virtual dating. 3Dxchat, a subscription multiplayer game, is at its core a virtual sex party. Avatars meet avatars, chat, and sneak off into rooms to act out graphic animated sex. It’s not unlike how people meet in other multiplayer role-playing games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft. But with 3Dxchat the intentions are more explicit and the visuals more in-your-face.
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Unfortunately, we also learned this year that women can expect to be harassed and impinged with unsolicited advances in virtual reality, just like they do in actual reality. In April, Fusion's Kevin Roose called out AltspaceVR for the sexually aggressive behavior against women that takes place on its platform.
Another scary aspect of digital dating is the growing amount of data that companies are collecting about your most personal interactions. According to a May article from Marie Claire, some apps may soon use that information to create your digital likeness in the form of online avatars that can respond for you. Not just respond, but field first dates.
Companies like Netflix and Foursquare have long cultivated personal data to feed their recommendation engines, and so it's only natural that dating apps would follow suit, slurping up consumer behavior to automate more components of their overall experiences. Consider Tinder’s individual desirability rating. The company is attempting to quantify what makes a person attractive, most likely in pursuit of making better matches. But this system could eventually be tailored to an individual so that Tinder understands how you would quantify a person's attractiveness. Leaping ahead, with enough behavioral data, machine learning could mimic your personality and handle lightweight social interactions on your behalf.

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