I just spent the past 15 minutes trying to fool a bot into thinking blurry phone pics of my elbow crease were steamy photos of the world's greatest butt. That, in a nutshell, is Sext Machine.
Offworld came across the amusing oddity, which you play by texting an actual phone number (text ";)" to 669 333-SEXT to begin) and sending awkward pictures to. Here's how it works:
"Sext Machine is an SMS-based game exploring the frailty of algorithms and human sexuality. The game is played by taking and sending photos with your phone's camera that look like, but aren't, sexually explicit."
"Photos sent to Sext Machine are run through a nudity-detection algorithm. You're scored based on how well you've tricked the bot into thinking you sent it something x-rated."
So the goal is to trick the flesh-hungry (but not like that... not yet) bot as effectively as possible. I've gotten it up to "60 per cent turned on," which means my dumb elbow crease barely looks like a butt at all. 60 is an F. My elbow crease is such a worthless slacker. Desperate for ideas, I made some kind of strange abyssal orifice with my hand, and Sext Machine replied, "that is soooooooo unsexy." I did not disagree.
Gizmodo, meanwhile, decided to CHEAT like shameless CHEATERS who CHEAT (and/or have ideas I wish I'd come up with) by testing the bot's limits, sending every type of real erotica they could think of. Warning: their post is kinda NSFW.
Sext Machine is a fun little distraction, though. And, bonus, it got me thinking a bit about the way we can now use sex and sexuality to pass the time, to build anticipation for more intimate encounters. But, as the game's creator suggested, it is all very frail. I was able to manipulate camera angles and lighting to make my hands and arms look pretty convincingly like lots of different people's unmentionables. We see what we want to see, I suppose. Or what we're told we're seeing. Or our brains evolved to go, "SEX, SEX, SEX" all the time, and we're easily fooled.
One thing's for sure: I will never trust a so-called sext ever again. I'll always wonder: naughty bit or hyper-zoomed-in photo of someone's thoroughly unwashed armpit? Or their eyelid? Or their weird bald cat? Man, the burden of knowledge is some serious shit.