Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sex with robots will become reality by 2050, author claims

Sex with robots will become reality by 2050, author claims

IT’S Saturday night, 2050. You switch on some music, turn down the lights and flick the switch to ON. No need for dinner or even a clean shirt because tonight, you’re romancing a robot.
That’s the scenario envisaged by David Levy, author of Love and Sex and Robots, who predicts it won’t be long before we’re all doing it — with machines.
“It just takes one famous person to say I had fantastic sex with a robot and you’ll have people queuing up from New York to California,” the CEO of Intelligent Toys Limited told
“If you’ve got a robot that looks like a human, feels like a human, behaves like a human, talks like a human why shouldn’t people find it appealing?”
This November, Mr Levy along with Adelaide-born Professor Adrian Cheok will chair the second international congress on Love and Sex with Robots in Malaysia. The event will bring together academics from around the world to discuss the legal, ethical and moral questions on everything from “teledildonics” to “humanoids”.
Mr Levy said the subject has spawned a huge amount of interest since his 2007 book and it’s only a matter of time before the currently “crude” versions available become more sophisticated and go mainstream.
“If there was a sophisticated sex robot around now then I would be very curious to try it,” he said.
“It can’t be long before we get to the point that there are robots looking very lifelike and with appealing designs that people find appealing to look at and then it’s a question of how long it will take until before the artificial intelligence is developed to the point where they can carry on interesting and entertaining conversations?”

Whether you find it horrifying or appealing, there’s no doubt the idea has taken root in popular culture with films like Her, Lars and the Real Girl and Ex-Machina dedicated to the relationship between humans and machines.
This week the makers of Japanese robot Pepper issued a warning, saying using it for “sexual purposes” breaks the rental agreement after people hacked its software to give it “virtual breasts”.

Meanwhile real-life technological advances like David Hanson’s human robots orHiroshi Ishiguro’s version have been making robots look more lifelike by the year. Several versions of robotic sex dolls already exist, include RealDoll made by Californian company Abyss, whose owner David Mills once told Vanity Fair he loves women but “doesn’t really like to be around people.”
But along with advances in artificial intelligence, ethical debate is raging around the use of robots whether in the military, medicine or at home, with many questioning what the rapid advances are doing to our relationships with others and ourselves.
Mr Levy is “absolutely convinced” sex with robots is a positive thing for the “millions and millions” of people around the world who don’t have satisfactory relationships. He thinks they could be the cure for everything from loneliness to paedophilia by helping to “wean” paedophiles off having sex with the children they’re attracted to.
“For whatever reason there are huge numbers of people who just don’t have a relationship with someone they can love and someone who can love them,” he said. “For people like that, I think that sex robots will be a real boon. It will get rid of a problem they’ve got, fill a big void in their lives and make them much happier.”
It’s a view that has been described as a “terrifying nightmare” by robotics ethicist Dr Kathleen Richardson. The senior research fellow at De Montfort University recently launched a Campaign Against Sex Robots with fellow researcher Dr Erik Billing and wants to highlight the kind of inequalities sex robots can perpetuate in real life.
“We’re not for a ban of sex robots, what we’re giving people is information about are the arguments for sex robots justified, and we’re asking them to examine their own conscience and whether they want to contribute to this development,” she told
“Everyone thinks because it’s a robot prostitute then real women and children in the industry won’t be harmed. But that’s not happened because if you don’t address the core idea that it’s not OK to reduce some human beings to things then all you do is add a new layer of complexity and complication and distortion to an already distorted relationship.”
While the emerging nature of the technology means long-term effects have not been documented, Dr Richardson fears widespread use of robots for sex will destroy human capacity for empathy and entrench notions of sex and gender already prevalent in the sex industry.
“Sex can never not be relational. You need another person. If it’s not relational you’re really masturbating,” she said.

These complexities are the kind of moral, ethical and legal quandaries Professor Adrian Cheok expects to air at the conference.
The Australian-born digital expert specialises in human-computer interfaces and thinks robots will be integrated into our lives in the short-term as friends, sex objects and carers before the relationships develop and could even include different levels of compliance for the types of relationships people want to have.
“We really don’t know how human society will react. The worst case scenario is that people begin to have a robot partner rather than a human partner,” he said, adding that this could happen to a “small percentage of the population” similar to the way people have died after being gripped by the reality of video games.
“There will be some people … that prefer robots over humans but I think that won’t be the majority. I think most people will prefer to have real human relationship.”
 “Science fiction is turning into science fact,” says one advocate of sex with robots. Pictured, Alicia Vikander in Ex-Machina.

Playboy 'to drop' naked women images

Playboy 'to drop' naked women images


Its US owners say the internet has made nudity outdated, and pornographic magazines are no longer so commercially viable, the New York Times reports.
Playboy's circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in the 1970s to the current 800,000, official figures show.
However, the magazine will still feature women in provocative poses - though not fully nude.

'Battle won'

The decision was apparently taken last month at a meeting attended by Playboy founder and current editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner.
Magazine executives admitted that Playboy - which was founded in 1953 - had been overtaken by the changes it pioneered, according to the New York Times.
"That battle has been fought and won," Playboy chief executive Scott Flanders is quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passe at this juncture."
Gone, too, are the days when interviews with figures of the stature of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Jimmy Carter made Playboy so culturally and politically significant, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in New York.
Playboy's website has already banished nudity, partly to give it access to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And its popularity has soared, with web traffic quadrupling.
A brand long synonymous with salaciousness is cleaning up its act, and all with the blessing - apparently - of the 89-year-old Mr Hefner, our correspondent adds.


60 years of Playboy

  • Playboy's logo showing a rabbit head wearing a bow tie is one of the most recognisable in the world. The company makes most of its money from licensing it around the world to sell products including toiletries, drinks and jewellery, including a necklace worn by the character Carrie Bradshaw in the TV series Sex and the City. About 40% of merchandising income is generated in China, where the magazine itself is not available.
  • Among the magazine's most famous interviews was a 1976 conversation with Jimmy Carter in which the then presidential candidate admitted he had desired women other than his wife, confessing he had "looked on a lot of women with lust" and "committed adultery in my heart many times". Other notable interviewees included jazz musician Miles Davis in 1962; writer Vladimir Nabokov in 1964; and John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1981.
  • The Library of Congress in Washington produces a Braille version of Playboy, one of 30 general-interest magazines that are translated for the blind and visually-impaired. In 1985, Congress voted to stop producing a Braille Playboy over morality concerns and to save money. But a group of blind Playboy readers sued for their right to read the magazine and a judge ruled that the ban violated their First Amendment rights under the US constitution. The Braille version can be viewed here.
  • Playboy has gained a reputation for riffing off business stories, beginning with a "Women of Wall Street" series in 1989 featuring nine stock market workers - shortly afterwards, seven of the nine were revealed to have left their jobs. Playboy continued with "Women of Enron" and "Women of WorldCom" shoots after those companies collapsed. It revisited the "Women of Wall Street" theme as the global financial crisis hit in 2008. The magazine advertised for models, requiring them to have worked for a financial institution and expressing a preference for those with senior management experience.
  • Not everybody has been pleased to appear in Playboy. In 2006, actress Jessica Alba refused to pose for a photo shoot so the magazine instead took an image from a film poster and put it on the front cover. Alba sued, arguing that appearing on the front cover suggested there would be nude photographs of her inside and this had caused "immeasurable harm" to her reputation. Hugh Hefner sent a personal apology and donated money to her favourite charities.
  • 13 October 2015

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Watch "The Skinny on Obesity" with Dr. Lustig:
Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16717]

More UCTV videos about sugar:
Dr. Lustig's book (comes out Dec 27, 2012), "Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease":

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Spectrum One

01 Oct 2014
Tonino Lamborghini Mobile presents their newest development in the techno-luxury segment - Spectrum Oneon-ear headphones.

They are an incarnation of sophisticated Italian style, luxury and technology combined. With Spectrum One, dynamic design meets a brand new cutting edge music experience creating an iconic synthesis of styles.

Spectrum One carry the famous “Raging bull” logo set in 24 carat gold – a symbol of expression and luxury.

Available in elegant silver and emotional red, the device provides the highest quality sound with deep bass, natural middle and crystal clear high frequencies. Its ear pads are made of soft leather and filled with memory foam to ensure the most comfortable wearing experience possible in complete isolation from external noise. You can also adjust the headband to achieve the perfect fit.

The Spectrum One launch will be held during the popular Robot Festival, which takes place in Bologna, Italy, from 1 to 5 October 2014. Participants will also be given the exclusive opportunity to be the first in the world to purchase the new headphones with a secret pre-order code.

We are pleased to exclusively provide you this opportunity too. Please visit the e-boutique and use the unlock code ‘TLSPECTRUM’ to order your very own iconic pair.

Do not miss the chance to discover Spectrum One!

For further information please contact:

Stefania Clio Loesch
Head of Communication & PR
Tonino Lamborghini SpA
Via Funo, 41 - 40050 Funo di Argelato (BO) - Italy
tel. + 39 051 862628 - fax +39 051 864956

Gabriela Ruano
H3O Communications
(415) 882-8828

For more details:

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant
Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.
The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.

“Start Quote

I have waited 40 years for something like this”
Prof Wagih El Masri Consultant spinal injuries surgeon
Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.
BBC One's Panorama programme had unique access to the project and spent a year charting the patient's rehabilitation.
Darek Fidyka, 40, from Poland, was paralysed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in the 2010 attack.
He said walking again - with the support of a frame - was "an incredible feeling", adding: "When you can't feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it's like you were born again."
Prof Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology, led the UK research team.
He said what had been achieved was "more impressive than man walking on the moon".
UK research team leader Prof Geoff Raisman: Paralysis treatment "has vast potential"
The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) - specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell.
OECs act as pathway cells that enable nerve fibres in the olfactory system to be continually renewed.
In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient's olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture.
Two weeks later they transplanted the OECs into the spinal cord, which had been cut through in the knife attack apart from a thin strip of scar tissue on the right. They had just a drop of material to work with - about 500,000 cells.
About 100 micro-injections of OECs were made above and below the injury.
Four thin strips of nerve tissue were taken from the patient's ankle and placed across an 8mm (0.3in) gap on the left side of the cord.
The scientists believe the OECs provided a pathway to enable fibres above and below the injury to reconnect, using the nerve grafts to bridge the gap in the cord.
How the injury was treated
Spinal graphic
1) One of the patient's two olfactory bulbs was removed and the olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) were grown in culture
2) 100 micro injections of OECs were made above and below the damaged area of the spinal cord
3) Four strips of nerve tissue were placed across an 8mm gap in the spinal cord. The scientists believe the OECs acted as a pathway to stimulate the spinal cord cells to regenerate, using the nerve grafts as a bridge to cross the severed cord
Before the treatment, Mr Fidyka had been paralysed for nearly two years and had shown no sign of recovery despite many months of intensive physiotherapy.
This programme of exercise - five hours per day, five days a week - has continued after the transplant at the Akson Neuro-Rehabilitation Center in Wroclaw.
Mr Fidyka first noticed that the treatment had been successful after about three months, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.
Six months after surgery, Mr Fidyka was able to take his first tentative steps along parallel bars, using leg braces and the support of a physiotherapist.
Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation centre using a frame.
He has also recovered some bladder and bowel sensation and sexual function.
Dr Pawel Tabakow, consultant neurosurgeon at Wroclaw University Hospital, who led the Polish research team, said: "It's amazing to see how regeneration of the spinal cord, something that was thought impossible for many years, is becoming a reality."
Darek undergoing physiotherapy Mr Fidyka undergoes five hours of physiotherapy a day
Mr Fidyka still tires quickly when walking, but said: "I think it's realistic that one day I will become independent.
"What I have learned is that you must never give up but keep fighting, because some door will open in life."
The groundbreaking research was supported by the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF) and the UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF)
UKSCF was set up in 2007 to speed up progress of promising stem cell research - the charity has to date contributed £2.5m
NSIF was set up by chef David Nicholls after his son Daniel was paralysed from the arms down in a swimming accident in 2003.
To date the charity has given £1m to fund the research in London and a further £240,000 for the work in Poland.
The breakthrough A key difference with Mr Fidyka was that the scientists were able use the patient's olfactory bulb, which is the richest source of olfactory ensheathing cells.
This meant there was no danger of rejection, so no need for immunosuppressive drugs used in conventional transplants.
Most of the repair of Mr Fidyka's spinal cord was done on the left side, where there was an 8mm gap.
He has since regained muscle mass and movement mostly on that side.
Scientists believe this is evidence that the recovery is due to regeneration, as signals from the brain controlling muscles in the left leg travel down the left side of the spinal cord.
MRI scans suggest that the gap in the cord has closed up following the treatment.
None of those involved in the research want to profit from it.
Prof Geoff Raisman said: "It would be my proudest boast if I could say that no patient had had to pay one penny for any of the information we have found."
NSIF said if there were any patents arising, it would acquire them so as to make the technique freely available.
The sense of smell and spinal repair
Generic image of a person smelling
The complex neural circuitry responsible for our sense of smell is the only part of the nervous system that regenerates throughout adult life.
It is this ability that scientists have tried to exploit in stimulating repair in the spinal cord.
Every time we breathe, molecules carrying different odours in the air come into contact with nerve cells in the nose.
These transmit messages to our olfactory bulbs - at the very top of the nasal cavity, sitting at the base of the brain.
The nerve cells are being continually damaged and must be replaced.
This process of regeneration is made possible by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which provide a pathway for the fibres to grow back.
Mr Nicholls said: "When Dan had his accident I made him a promise that, one day, he would walk again. I set up the charity to raise funds purely for research into repairing the spinal cord. The results with Darek show we are making significant progress towards that goal."
Prof Wagih El Masri said: "Although the clinical neurological recovery is to date modest, this intervention has resulted in findings of compelling scientific significance."
The consultant spinal injuries surgeon, who has treated thousands of patients in the UK, added: "I have waited 40 years for something like this."
All those involved in the research are keen not to raise false hopes in patients and stress that the success will need to be repeated to show definitively whether it can stimulate spinal cord regeneration.
The scientists hope to treat another 10 patients, in Poland and Britain over the coming years, although that will depend on the research receiving funding.
Dr Tabakow said: "Our team in Poland would be prepared to consider patients from anywhere in the world who are suitable for this therapy. They are likely to have had a knife wound injury where the spinal cord has been cleanly severed.
Sir Richard Sykes, chair of the UK Stem Cell Foundation, said: "The first patient is an inspirational and important step, which brings years of laboratory research towards the clinical testbed."
"To fully develop future treatments that benefit the 3 million paralysed globally will need continued investment for wide scale clinical trials,"
The researchers
BBC undated handout video grab of Professor Geoffrey Raisman 
  Prof Raisman
Prof Raisman has spent more than 40 years studying how to repair the spinal cord.
In animal studies he showed that OECs injected into the rat spinal cord could reverse paralysis.
In 2005, Prof Raisman was approached by a Polish neurosurgeon who had begun researching how to apply the technique in humans.
BBC undated handout video grab of Dr Pawel Tabakow Dr Tabakow
Dr Tabakow carried out an initial trial involving three paralysed patients who each had a small amount of OECs injected in their damaged spinal cords.
While none showed any significant improvement, the main purpose of the study was achieved, showing that the treatment was safe.
Panorama's To Walk Again is on Tuesday 21 October at 22:35 BST on BBC One.