This episode features two interviews. The first looks at the struggles of those in the sex and sextech industries to get access to capital and to create products and services that respect users and creators, and the second considers the state of privacy and its relationship to power.
OnlyFans, a UK-based site that built a billion dollar business enabling creators to post and get paid for sexually explicit material, announced this month that as of October 1st it would no longer permit anything much more salacious than nudity. This came as a surprise to its legion of creators and its many paying fans. But the reason is straightforward: financial firms will simply not support businesses that deal in sex and pornography. The company has since reversed he struggles of those in the sex and sextech industries to get access to capitalits decision after outcry from its community.
When I read about OnlyFans’ predicament, I immediately thought about another venture that encountered many of the same issues when it got up and running a decade ago- MakeLoveNotPorn. Founded by Cindy Gallop, MakeLoveNotPorn bills itself as “the world’s first user-generated, human-curated social sex video-sharing platform.”
I caught up with Cindy to hear more about her experience with these issues, get perspective on the OnlyFans announcement, and talk about what it says about a fundamental predicament for the adult content and services industry. Along the way she also offered commentary on the broader tech culture and the way it approaches content moderation and regard for the safety of users that points to a vision of a different kind of internet that is lost in Big Tech’s current obsession with scale. And, we talked about whether (or when) cryptocurrencies might be the answer.
Second, we turn to a discussion about a recently published book, Privacy is Power: Why And How you Should Take Back Control of Your Data, by Carissa Véliz, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Institute for Ethics in AI, and a Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College, at the University of Oxford.
Carissa works on digital ethics (with an emphasis on privacy and AI ethics), practical ethics more generally, political philosophy, and public policy and is interested in philosophy of mind. I caught up with Carissa about the book, and how it relates to some current issues in the world, from the pandemic to climate change.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.