The implications of new mind-reading technologies that discovers what we find most attractive


What if technology could help you discover what you found most attractive, in people, art, or your environment?

In Alfred Bester’s SF novel The Deceivers, Demi Jeroux evolves her appearance to match what her lover finds most attractive.

Now existing in real life, a recent paper Brain-computer interface for generating personally attractive images describes the process of identifying what people find the most attractive.

The system shows people sequences of images created by Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) and correlates them with their affective response, honing in on the optimal representations.

Arguably we know what attracts us, but do we? Perhaps layers of social habituation, expectation, or repression shape what we think we find attractive.

On the positive side, these kinds of technologies could help us know ourselves better, uncovering responses deeper than our social conditioning.

An article The Future of Sex Is Mind-Reading AI That Reveals Your Deepest, Most Unconscious Fantasies explores the implications of the technology, suggesting that it “might give people the much-needed opportunity to understand and learn from our deep-seated fears and biases and come to terms with our unconscious desires.”

However, perhaps people would prefer to keep some of these responses repressed, finding it useful to keep aspects of their personality in the background.

More frightening is the possibility of advertisers and attention-hacking platforms applying these technologies to pull us into a hypercompelling vortex akin to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

The symbiosis between humans + technology changes us.

We should not underestimate the potential implications of this technology, which could be liberating for some people, but with massive potential for abuse in the wrong hands.