A Novel Way to Mitigate Sexual Violence

BLUF: This is an edgy idea far outside the Overton window that actually might be able to solve a part of our society’s sexual violence problem.


Despite significant cultural and technological progress in recent decades, sexual violence remains a significant problem in our society.  Some of this sexual violence happens in the bedroom after two adults initially consent, but one changes their mind. Additionally, while less common, false reports are a source of anxiety for many men.  How can we reduce both sexual violence and false reports?

One idea advocated by some is the idea of documenting consent.  The problem with this is it does not protect someone who decides to change their mind about sex after they sign the agreement.

My Idea

Here is a better solution which ensures the truth of what happens in the bedroom is documented, but privacy is secured:
1) Design a special, cryptographic video camera.  I will go into details of this below, but essentially, it films twice-encrypted video which is essentially uncrackable unless both users that want to have safer sex agree to provide their private key.

2) Two people who want to get intimate can agree and set up this special video camera in a bedroom right before they go at it.

3) If sexual violence or a false claim of sexual violence occurs, it will be in the innocent’s best interest to report the existence of the encrypted video footage, as well as provide their private key, to law enforcement.

4) Any party that is unwilling to provide their private key to law enforcement will seem to be hiding evidence from the law.  Thus, the word of the person who provided their private key and has nothing to hide may be deemed as more trustworthy.  On the contrary, if both parties provide their private key, law enforcement will be able to fully decrypt the video to see what really happened.

5) Either way, law enforcement will have enough evidence to pursue justice and prosecute the guilty.

Technical Details of the Special Camera

The camera could look like a large GoPro, and be manufactured and sold for under several hundred dollars.  Each camera would have a built-in, unique, time-based one-time password generator and a unique ID code so that the person in a potential sexual encounter that didn’t bring the camera can verify that the camera is authentic through the manufacturer’s secure website.

It can function as a regular camera (and display a “red” LED on its front), but it can only record twice-encrypted video while displaying a signature (say “green”) LED on its front. This LED is so that users know they are not being filmed with non-duel encrypted video. In order to begin recording this duel-encrypted video, two users must each input a private key.

To actually input the private key, the users could each open their app (downloaded from the Android or Apple app store), log in to their account, generate a private key (that is backed up online), and the special camera could read the private key via its own lens (w/ machine learning).  Once both users have input their private key, the camera may begin recording.

While participants record their intimate session, the camera continually backs up the video to a remote server over WiFi and/or a cellular data, as well as to two SD cards that they can each take (useful if the internet goes down).

The camera would have been designed in a way to be tamper proof (e.g. an essential circuit literally breaks if the camera is opened up).  A software solution for iOS could possibly be a simpler solution, but I believe a hardware solution could more reliably prevent hacking and abuse.  We certainly do not want anyone’s bedroom activities being leaked.

Additional Info

  • This system does not reduce the veracity of the word of victim’s who don’t use it.  It’s just a way to protect people that want more protection.
  • For people who have experienced sexual violence or false accusations, they might only be willing to get romantic if they have a system like this.
  • Without this technology, individuals only have the options of:
    1) deterring violence with the threat of their own word after-the-fact.  Obviously, this does not always work.
    2) destroying both their own and their partner’s privacy for perfect accountability (e.g. live video uploaded that is not duel encrypted).

This may not be your cup of tea, and it may not be ideal for enough people to make this worth developing.  However, this seems like a valid partial solution to a particular subset of sexual violence. What do you think?

Possible Moral Trade Implementation

I’ve been thinking about Toby Ord’s Moral Trade paper, and think a new Repledge website is a desirable thing, legal questions aside. Here’s the idea (edited with my own takes) for those unfamiliar:

Create a website where people can donate to a cause, but where if someone else donates to the opposite cause, both peoples’ money is instead diverted to a 3rd charity that both parties also support (e.g. GiveWell). To discourage GiveWell supporters from waiting and donating to whatever interest group is necessary to double their donations, the running balance is kept private. After a set time (say, once a week, Saturday at 1800), the tied money goes to GiveWell and the surplus money goes to the interest group it was intended for.

People interested in supporting interest groups should be interested in funding this way if:
1) they believe their opponent’s interest group could advance their interest better with a dollar than their own
2) they would rather give $2 to GiveWell than $.5001 to their own interest group
3) some reconciliation of #1 and #2.

Trust problems can be resolved with smart open-source software and 3rd party (not GiveWell) auditing.

Given only the option of donating X dollars through the site or outside it, I think a rational agent should donate according to the following procedure so as to maximize utility:

uA= a utility/$ ———utility per dollar of one’s interest group
uB= -b utility/$——–negative utility per dollar of the opposition’s interest group
uG= g utility/$ ———utility per dollar of the neutral 3rd group (GiveWell)

If abs(uB)>uA:
Donate through site so as to get 2uG
If uA>2uG:
Donate directly to A
If uD>2uG:
Donate directly to A
Donate so as to get 2uG

If this is a good idea in theory, the next obstacle to tackle is the question of legality.  I imagine that people should be able to consent to their money being used in this way, but laws, especially campaign finance laws, are not always intuitive.

The next question is whether the expected donations to GiveWell would be worth the effort to tackle this project. The effort, of course, could widely vary; we could hire a team of software engineers to build a secure system where humans are effectively out of the loop and this could be verified by 3rd party investigators. Or we could make two Venmo-like accounts (one for each side of a partisan issue that a poll shows people are interested in funding on both sides), and literally just live stream and post a video weekly of the site’s owner subtracting the difference between pairs of accounts, donating the money to the winning site (with the camera still rolling), and donating the matched money to GiveWell.

There is a very good chance that we will not find prospective donators on opposite sides of an issue that both buy into the calculus and trust the site enough, but it’s possible.  The cost is low enough however that this simpler system could be implemented within hours by one trusted third party should a community find itself sharply divided on an issue and be willing or already spending money on organizations with opposing missions.

Thanks for reading! I would love your feedback 🙂