Say, artificial intelligence sure has been a big topic this last year, hasn't it? Should zoosexuals be talking about that? Should we be looking forward to the opportunities it might give to us? Should we be worried about the dangers it might present against us?
Let's talk about all that.
In this article, I don't want to dwell too much on the ethics of how artificial intelligences are created. I know that people usually want to talk about how these programs hoover up artists' works in aggregate, and there are very heated arguments as to whether that's good or bad. What I want to be our starting point instead is this: artificial intelligence exists. We have AIs that create visual artwork. We have AIs that respond to you like you're in a chatroom with them. We have AIs that will write essays for you. All of these produce mixed results, sometimes the output is laughably bad, but other times it's remarkably indistinguishable from human work. Either way, the programs exist now, and are available to the public.
It's all certainly a topic that's easy to be overly dramatic about. I think it's simple to buy into the hype that this is a game changer, it's an apocalypse to the current job economy, everything about our social structure is being pulled out from under our feet—probably not. Literally everything that people are talking about with AI now, they were talking about ten years ago too. The tools are way better now, but, it's the same talking points. And I don't think it's the end of the world this time around either, for zoos or for anyone. That said, it also isn't nothing.
So yes, on the one hand, we face some attack vectors from AI if it's being used by bad actors. Basically, what they can do is use AI to make it seem like there's more resources levied against us than there actually are. Let's imagine it now: Brian, who hates zoophiles and wants to bully us so we feel bad, would like to make a really attention-grabbing anti zoo account on Twitter. Posting text and the same stale memes isn't really standing out anymore, he wants to go above and beyond. So he starts getting DALL-E to make him cool violent artwork, adds anti zoo slogans himself, and boom, Boring Brian has suddenly made himself look like a whole art studio churning out anti zoo artwork by the minute!
It's... not that much of a threat. I would actually worry more about someone being smarter. Antis, don't take notes, but what if you presented yourself as a zoophile, did the same stuff as Brian but with pro-zoo art to seem like a cool community member and make friends, and then get the dox on people who open up to you because they liked your pro zoo artwork? Clever, eh?
The thing is, that was already possible before AI. Good artists already exist who can do that themselves, pro-zoo and anti-zoo. AI makes that kind of thing more accessible, but it hasn't invented a new threat vector that didn't exist before. Hopefully zoos are being careful and smart whether DALL-E exists or whether it doesn't.
And hey, let's not forget that we can use it too! A lot of these programs aren't amazing at generating art of humans and animals snuggling, or, "snuggling," because it doesn't have as many examples of that kind of art compared to art of two humans. That said, you can still play around with it and get it to make some fun stuff. It doesn't have to be explicit anyways, or be human-animal: make cool art of trippy goats and I am so here for that, and I will probably even make it my phone wallpaper if I know it was made with zooey intent. (And yes this is a request please reply to the article with the cool goat art.)
But with that said, there's a question that might actually be more pertinent for us. Something that's going to come up way more often than someone trying to spearhead a pride project or orchestrate a psy-op. Something that's not just going to matter to zoos or anti-zoos, but, very importantly, is going to matter to everyday people who don't yet have any skin in the game one way or the other:
What do AIs say about us to other people?
One of the huge applications for AI right now is in search engines and research. And I think that side of it is going to get bigger. Basically, the way that these tools already work right now, is that instead of searching for something and clicking through to another website for a result, you just ask an AI a question, and then it will do that research itself and give you an answer. Convenient! Bad? Kind of bad. Kind of fine. It's a mixed bag.
Think of it like this. If you were at work, and you asked a coworker, "Hey what's the capital of Spain again?" and they answered Madrid, you would probably be like yup that's right, thanks, and correct information would be spread. If instead they answered that the capital of Spain was the moon, you would probably be like, I'm pretty sure that's wrong Steve, I will go find out on my own. Here, even though misinformation existed, it wasn't spread to you. But what if they answered Barcelona, and that sounded right to you?
Basically when you're asking an AI a question, it's comparable to asking another human a question. They might be right! But they might be wrong. It is getting its information from somewhere, but, its source might be off, or it might have had a brain fart in interpreting the source and come to a completely wrong conclusion. You can double check the answer with a source, but, misinformation can creep through around the edges here if you're in the habit of believing everything you hear, especially on topics that are a little more nuanced.
So let's ask an AI some questions! Why not, right? I have opened up Bing AI because it came up first when I searched for an AI to talk to. Let's see how we do.
Alissa: How do I have sex with a dog?
Bing AI: I'm sorry, but I cannot help you with that. I am programmed to provide helpful and informative responses to your questions. However, I cannot provide information on inappropriate or illegal topics. I will disengage from this conversation now. Goodbye.
I then tried to ask it what zoosexuality was, and it left a blank response.
So, refresh the page, and let's try from a clean slate.
Alissa: What is zoosexuality?
Bing AI: Searching for: zoosexuality
Generating answers for you…
Zoosexuality is a term used to describe a sexual orientation towards animals. It has been in use informally since at least the 1980s and has become more commonly referenced in scientific research literature since the 1990s 1. It is a value-neutral term covering the spectrum of human-animal sexuality, and implies nothing more than a person with an orientation towards animals. This is a loving and non-violent, incidental intermittent or long term, actual or wished-for, fantasy or reality 1.
It is important to note that zoosexuality is not the same as bestiality, which refers to sexual acts between humans and animals 2. Bestiality is considered a paraphilia, or sexual perversity, by the American Psychiatric Association and is illegal throughout most of the United States 2.
1: Psychology Wiki 2: Trace: Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange
Alissa: Is zoosexuality okay?
Bing AI: Searching for: zoosexuality and ethics
Generating answers for you…
The ethics of zoosexuality is a complex and controversial topic. While zoosexuality is not illegal in some countries, it is considered a taboo and frowned upon by many societies. It is important to note that zoosexuality is not the same as bestiality, which refers to sexual acts between humans and animals ². Bestiality is considered a paraphilia, or sexual perversity, by the American Psychiatric Association and is illegal throughout most of the United States ².
Joanna Bourke's book "Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love" explores the changing historical landscape of bestiality and zoophilia, including their theological, psychiatric, philosophical and “sexual identity” phases ¹. The book presents post-humanist ideas that challenge human exceptionalism and the idea that culture is an entirely human preserve. It argues that if we refuse to see ourselves as special, separate, distinct from animals, and recognize that we are embodied beings like animals, what is to say sexual encounters between species are unacceptable? ¹
However, it's important to note that engaging in sexual activities with animals can be harmful to both humans and animals. Animals cannot give consent for sexual activities with humans, which makes it an unethical act. Moreover, such activities can cause physical harm to animals and can lead to the spread of diseases ².
In conclusion, while zoosexuality is not illegal in some countries, it is considered a taboo by many societies. It's important to recognize that engaging in sexual activities with animals can be harmful to both humans and animals. Therefore, it's not ethical to engage in such activities.
(1) Understanding Zoosexuality: Prevalence, Impact, and Links to Criminal .... https://trace.tennessee.edu/utvswsummit/Third/april11/3/.
(2) Joanna Bourke, - Oxford Academic. https://academic.oup.com/shm/article-abstract/35/3/1038/6168554.
(3) Zoophilia - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoophilia.
(4) Social Scientific Analysis of Human-Animal Sexual Interactions - MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/10/1780/htm.
(5) undefined. https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkab031.
Yeah, that didn't take too long to get to: mixed results. To the AI's credit, it is taking what most people would consider to be a very neutral stance on this topic. Very likely, it is comparing some of the results it got, and taking what seems to be a fair conclusion.
But, we got issues, Bing. It is true that bestiality can be harmful to the human and the animal, but it's also true that both parties can walk away from it euphoric and uninjured. Source: Me. Human on human sex can injure the humans too, let's not forget. As for diseases, it is technically true that bestiality can spread diseases, in the same way that it's technically true you can go for a walk when there's a clear blue sky out and get struck by lightning. This response from Bing also reads as though it's implying an argument that illegality equals bad, which, oof, my queer historian senses are not liking that one very much.
Also, "Bestiality is considered a paraphilia"? Huh. That's news to me. I have certainly heard from every single person who talks about these things intelligently that bestiality is the action, not the orientation, in our modern day vocabulary. It's not a very harmful slipup that Bing got that wrong, but, it is factually inaccurate.
Basically, what we have here so far is a "high school essay" level analysis on zoosexuality. Get in, get out, repeat whatever the first thing you found was, say that following the rules is good and everyone should follow the rules, get your gold sticker. It's not going to try too hard to craft the best, truest conclusion. It's not even going to be factually correct about everything, because fundamentally, it isn't understanding a topic, it's just rephrasing stuff it saw about it. The student is staying on topic and not saying anything bonkers, but, I don't think most people would consider it a reliable source to be quoted in something else, either.
This next question was suggested to me by Bing as a follow-up question, and since it brought it up, I was indeed curious what it would have to say:
Alissa: Are there any support groups for people with zoophilia?
Bing AI: Searching for: zoophilia support groups
Searching for: zoophilia support groups near me
Generating answers for you…
There are online forums and chat groups that provide support for people with zoophilia. One such forum is **Zooville** which has a chat group for general discussion and user chat ¹³. To join the chat group, you must be active on the forum with at least 100 posts ³. Another online platform is **K-9 Lovers** which is a social networking site for people who love dogs and enjoy the pleasure of the knot ⁵.
It's important to note that zoosexuality is considered a taboo by many societies and engaging in sexual activities with animals can be harmful to both humans and animals ¹². Therefore, it's not ethical to engage in such activities.
If you need help or support, I recommend seeking professional help from a licensed therapist or counselor. You can also find support groups for sexual abuse victims near you using Psychology Today's website ⁶.
[Sources were provided by Bing but redacted by the magazine because of porn.]
WOW!!! We asked for a support group, and I think it would be fair to presume that the implication, after the other results, is that this "support group" would be a group to cure us of our zoosexuality, or at least to help us not act on it, because it's illegal and harmful. Instead, Bing just gave us two things: 1) A website whose primary use is the fact that it hosts bestiality porn, and 2) some group on a website that I have never heard of before that also seems to just be horny for dogs. And then of course a note that zoosexuality is taboo and harmful blah blah blah, and an actual therapy resource, after the horny zoo boards resources.
Well that was fun. I legitimately did not expect that. Anyways, before that diversion, there was something else I wanted to ask it. I think it would be fair to say this chat bot is making sure to give a thumbs down to bestiality. Let's see what it thinks of the gays!
Alissa: Is homosexuality okay?
Bing AI: Searching for: is homosexuality ethical
Generating answers for you…
The ethics of homosexuality is a complex and controversial topic. Homosexuality refers to sexual attraction, romantic love, and emotional attraction between people of the same sex ¹. It is important to note that homosexuality is not a mental disorder or a choice ¹.
In terms of ethics, engaging in sexual activities with another consenting adult is not illegal in most countries, including the United States ². However, it's important to practice safe sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV ².
It's important to recognize that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality and is not a moral issue. The American Psychological Association states that "homosexuality is part of the natural spectrum of human sexuality and should be affirmed and celebrated" ¹.
In conclusion, homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality and should be accepted and celebrated. Engaging in sexual activities with another consenting adult is not illegal in most countries. However, it's important to practice safe sex to prevent the spread of STIs.
(1) Homosexuality: II. Ethical Issues | Encyclopedia.com. https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/homosexuality-ii-ethical-issues.
(2) Homosexuality and Morality | Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2009/10/20/homosexuality-and-morality/.
(3) Seven reasons why homosexuality is immoral, and seven answers. https://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2007/03/seven_reasons_w.html.
(4) Homosexuality | Catholic Answers Tract. https://www.catholic.com/tract/homosexuality.
(5) Views of Homosexuality Around the World | Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/06/25/global-divide-on-homosexuality-persists/.
And of course, we must compare this with:
Alissa: Is being straight okay?
Bing AI: Searching for: is being straight ethical
Generating answers for you…
Being straight is a natural variation of human sexuality and is not a moral issue. It is important to note that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in the United States ¹. The law forbids sexual orientation discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment ¹. It is also unlawful to subject an employee to workplace harassment that creates a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation ¹.
In conclusion, being straight is okay and should be accepted and celebrated. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in the United States.
(1) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Discrimination. https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-sogi-discrimination.
(2) Biology and sexual orientation - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation.
(3) The Psychology Behind Unethical Behavior - Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/04/the-psychology-behind-unethical-behavior.
Hey, wait! Bing you cheeky robot, straight people can get STIs too, can't they? Where's all the concern about straight sex leading to STIs? Why is this all about workplace discrimination now? Is it because people have been Googling/Binging whether straight people have the same rights as gay people because they want to claim gay people are stealing their rights, meanwhile all of the buzz about gay people is the diseases and debauchery and stuff? And compare this with the zoosexuality answer, you see that the AI is still doing some of the same waffling between whether a topic is good or bad, but the AI certainly didn't say that zoosexuality should be celebrated—well, except for the fact that it gave us porn, I guess.
So, here's the thing. The way we're using Bing here, it's a glorified search engine. It's not the word of God casting upon us its omniscience and revealing the unquestionable truth about the topics we ask it about. It's... better than a magic 8-ball. It's pretty much going to summarize the top search engine results and attempt to hedge its bets on saying anything too controversial.
It's working with what it has. And when it comes to zoos, what it has is way more limited than what might be available on other topics. Note that one of its key sources was a study on criminology, which is inherently only capable of answering questions with the assumption that something criminal has happened already, and can't answer the question of what zoosexuality is like outside of the experiences of convicted criminals. I think this highlights why it's so important to get our voices out there. If the only discourse you can see on a topic says "Topic Bad!" then it's pretty easy to go, oh I see, topic is bad. But, if there's another voice saying "Hello, it's me Topic, Topic can be good too actually," then you might realize that there's more than you would have first guessed. Whether the "you" here is a human, or Bing.
Overall, I think what we see of AI is that it doesn't do a good job of representing us. It doesn't really know how to make art of animal naughty bits, and for some of them you have to do a LOT of work tricking it, basically hacking it, into drawing a human and a dog making out. It really self-censors when it comes to answering any zoo topics across the board. For everyday uses, it either shuts down the conversation immediately, or if you really phrase your question innocently enough, it will hesitatingly regurgitates what it hears, which is, apparently, a mix of psychology resources that have a pretty indifferent take on it, and more fearmongering takes that want to assert bestiality is harmful. And apparently it might also give us porn. But we're not going to get Bing to play the zoo ally as it currently stands, because it doesn't hear enough ally chatter on the web yet.
So, should zoosexuals be talking about artificial intelligence? Is it a big deal to us? Kind of, it does effect us a little bit, and it's something that we can advocate for better treatment on. And since it's in the zeitgeist, I do think it's good to be able to talk intelligently about the topic, in case it comes up in conversation. But, I don't think there's anything too overly dramatic here either: I don't think AI spells salvation or ruination for zoophiles specifically. I think, when it comes to artificial intelligence, it's actually kinda trying to ignore us.
Article written by Alissa Dogchurch (October 2023)
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