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For the love of technology! Sex robots and virtual reality

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As technology develops, it will enable sexual experiences that many will find just as satisfying as those with human partners, in some cases more so

Sex as we know it is about to change.

We are already living through a new sexual revolution, thanks to technologies that have transformed the way we relate to each other in our intimate relationships. But we believe that a second wave of sexual technologies is now starting to appear, and that these are transforming how some people view their sexual identity.

People we refer to as “digisexuals” are turning to advanced technologies, such as robots, virtual reality (VR) environments and feedback devices known as teledildonics, to take the place of human partners.

Defining digisexuality

Neil McArthur is the co-editor of Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, published in 2017 by MIT Press.

In our research, we use the term digisexuality in two senses. The first, broader sense is to describe the use of advanced technologies in sex and relationships. People are already familiar with what we call first-wave sexual technologies, which are the many things that we use to connect us with our current or prospective partners. We text each other, we use Snapchat and Skype and we go on social apps like Tinder and Bumble to meet new people.

These technologies have been adopted so widely, so quickly, that it is easy to miss what a profound effect they have had on our intimate lives.

It is fascinating to study how people use technology in their relationships. Not surprisingly, in our research we can already see people displaying different attachment styles in their use of technology. As with their human relationships, people relate to their technology in ways that may be secure, anxious, avoidant or some – often disorganized – combination of the three.

There is a second, narrower sense, in which we use the term digisexuals for people whose sexual identity is shaped by what we call second-wave sexual technologies.

These technologies are defined by their ability to offer sexual experiences that are intense, immersive and do not depend on a human partner. Sex robots are the second-wave technology people are most familiar with.

They don’t exist yet, not really, but they have been widely discussed in the media and often appear in movies and on television. Some companies have previewed sex robot prototypes, but these are nothing close to what most people would consider a proper sexbot. They are also incredibly creepy.

Refining sexbots

There are several companies, such as the Real Doll company, working on developing realistic sexbots. But there are a few technical hurdles they have yet to overcome. Truly interactive artificial intelligence is developing slowly, for instance, and it is proving difficult to teach a robot to walk. More interestingly, some inventors have begun experimenting with innovative, non-anthropomorphic designs for sexbots.

Meanwhile, VR is progressing rapidly. And in the sex industry, VR is already being used in ways that go beyond the passive viewing of pornography. Immersive virtual worlds and multi-player environments, often coupled with haptic feedback devices, are already being created that offer people intense sexual experiences that the real world possibly never could.

Investigative journalist Emily Witt has written about her experience with some of these technologies in her 2016 book, Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love.

Sherry Turkle explores relational artifacts in a 1999 lecture at the University of Washington.

There is compelling evidence that second-wave technologies have an effect on our brains that is qualitatively different from what came before.

MIT professor Sherry Turkle and others have done studies on the intensity of the bond people tend to form with what she calls “relational artifacts” such as robots. Turkle defines relational artifacts as “non-living objects that are, or at least appear to be, sufficiently responsive that people naturally conceive themselves to be in a mutual relationship with them.” Immersive VR experiences also offer a level of intensity that is qualitatively different from other sorts of media.

Immersive experiences

In a lecture at the Virtual Futures Forum in 2016, VR researcher Sylvia Xueni Panexplained the immersive nature of VR technology. It creates what she describes as a placement and plausibility illusion within the human brain.

As a result of its real-time positioning, 3D stereo display and its total field of view, the user’s brain comes to believe that the user is really present. As she says: “If situations and events that happen in VR actually correlates to your actions and relates personally to you, then you react towards these events as if they were real.”

As technologies such as virtual reality develop, more people will use them for sexual experiences.
Photo: Shutterstock

As these technologies develop, they will enable sexual experiences that many people will find just as satisfying as those with human partners, or in some cases more so.

We believe that in the coming decades, as these technologies become more sophisticated and more widespread, there will be an increasing number of people who will choose to find sex and partnership entirely from artificial agents or in virtual environments.

And as they do, we will also see the emergence of this new sexual identity we call digisexuality.

Sexuality and stigma

A digisexual is someone who sees immersive technologies such as sex robots and virtual reality pornography as integral to their sexual experience, and who feels no need to search for physical intimacy with human partners.

Marginal sexual identities almost invariably face stigma, and it is already apparent that digisexuals will be no exception. The idea of digisexuality as an identity has already received strong negative reactions from many commentators in the media and online.

We should learn from the mistakes of the past. Society has stigmatized gays and lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals, consensually non-mongamous people and practitioners of bondange/discipline-dominance/submission-sadomasochism (BDSM).

Then, as time goes on, we have gradually learned to be more accepting of all these diverse sexual identities. We should bring that same openness to digisexuals. As immersive sexual technologies become more widespread, we should approach them, and their users, with an open mind.

We don’t know where technology is going, and there are definitely concerns that need to be discussed — such as the ways in which our interactions with technology could shape our attitudes towards consent with our human partners.

Our research addresses one specific piece of the puzzle: the question of how technology impacts sexual-identity formation, and how people with technologically-based sexual identities may face stigma and prejudice. Yes, there are dangers. But whips and paddles can hurt too.

Neil McArthur, Director, Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of Manitoba and Markie Twist, Professor, University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Extension

Source: https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/05/article/for-the-love-of-technology-sex-robots-and-virtual-reality/

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Five reasons Chromebooks are better than Windows laptops

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When one of my compares recently wrote that a Best Buy salesperson assured him Windows laptops were better than Chromebooks, I was reminded of that old joke: “What’s the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman? The used car salesman knows when he’s lying.” 

Now, there are Best Buy people who know their stuff, and there are Windows users who should stick with Windows. If, for example, you live and die by one or two native Windows applications, there’s no point in even considering going elsewhere. And, if you’re a die-hard Windows gamer, Best Buy will be happy to sell you a top-of-the-line Alienware gaming PC. 

But there are also many good reasons to use Chromebooks. Here are the top reasons.

CHROME OS IS MORE STABLE THAN WINDOWS 10

WIndows, especially lately, has been prone to one update problem after another. The latest example: Microsoft broke Visual Basic programs for many users. I mean, how do you break the Visual Basic 6 code? The language has been part and parcel of the Microsoft family since 1998! 

Windows updates have become a nightmare over the past few years. Today, Windows users hold off for as long as possible before “updating” their PCs. Chrome OS users, on the other hand, have their systems updated every six weeks without a hitch. And, I might add, these updates take a minute or two instead of an hour or two.

Chrome OS is also more secure than Windows. WIndows security violations pop up every blessed month. Sure, Chrome OS has had security holes, but I can’t think of one that’s been significantly exploited.

CHROME OS MAKES IT EASY TO MOVE TO NEW HARDWARE

Want a nightmare? Try migrating from an old Windows PC to a new one. Even if you’re jumping from Windows 10  to Windows 10, there are no easy ways to do it. If you have a Microsoft account, rather than a local account, you must manually move your local files from third-party programs such as Photoshop  

Procuring software packages for the organization is a complicated process which involves more than just technological knowledge. There are financial and support aspects to consider, proof of concepts to evaluate and vendor negotiations to handle….Tools & Templates provided by TechRepublic Premium

On Chrome OS, you log in to your new Chromebook and — ta-da! — you’re back in business. No fuss, no muss. 

WITH CHROME OS, EVEN IF YOUR CHROMEBOOK BURST INTO FLAMES YOU LOSE NOTHING.

Say you drop your laptop, and then the screen cracks. If you’re running Windows, you’d better hope you have a good recent backup, and you’re able to restore it to a new one without too much trouble. Good luck with that.

When I did that with a Chromebook, I got a new machine, signed into it, and in three minutes I was ready to go again. Using a Chromebook means never losing your settings, applications, or data again.

CHROMEBOOKS WORK JUST FINE OFFLINE

One of the great myths about Chromebooks is that, without an internet connection, Chromebooks are just expensive door-stops. Wrong. 

With an offline Chromebook, you can still read and write Gmail, use your calendar, watch movies, listen to music, edit photographs, or work in Google Docs. People who claim that Chromebooks are just a Chrome browser and nothing more are clueless and haven’t actually used one.

CHROMEBOOKS RUN FAR MORE THAN JUST CHROME OS

Although Google dropped its effort to dual-boot Windows in Chromebooks, also known as Project Campfire, you can still run Android applications and Linux programs on modern Chromebooks. And thanks to CrossOver Chrome OS, you can run some Windows programs on Chrome OS.   

Chromebooks are the most versatile laptops around these days.

Are Chromebooks right for everyone? No. For some people, Windows and MacOS machines are still the best.

But, for most people, a Chromebook is ideal. 

If you want a laptop that does all the bread-and-butter internet and office work, get a Chromebook. If you have a friend or relative who needs a safer machine, give them a Chromebook. If you need a flexible system that can juggle Android, Linux, the web, and a bit of Windows, get a Chromebook. You’ll be glad you did.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/five-reasons-chromebooks-are-better-than-windows-laptops/

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Samsung devices lead in fast download speed – Report

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Users of Samsung devices experienced faster download speed than Apple and Huawei users in about 14 countries, a latest report by Opensignal has shown.

The 14 countries, according to the research firm, represented 35 per cent of the countries examined.

Opensignal in its Mobile Network Experience study across 40 countries found that Apple users were faster in 17.5 per cent of the countries and in the remaining 48 per cent, two or more of the brands tied in a statistical dead heat.

According to the findings of the study, none of the countries saw Huawei users experience the fastest download speed, but the smartphone brand had tied in download speed in 17.5 per cent of countries.

Analysts at Opensignal noted that in the United States, which is a strong iPhone market, Apple users experienced download speeds 8.2 Mega bytes per seconds slower than Samsung users.

“Perhaps most striking is the experience of Apple users. Given that Samsung makes a wide range of models from cheap to premium, while Apple only offers premium-priced models, this is an even more impressive result,” the report stated.

“In Brazil, Apple users experienced speeds of 2.3 Mbps faster than second-placed Huawei’s users. Samsung’s position here is more intriguing because it offers a similar range of models to Huawei, but Huawei’s users experienced speeds 3.5 Mbps faster than Samsung’s.”

The country differences, according to the study, represent other factors beyond the network capabilities of individual smartphone models.

It explained that Huawei users experienced notably slower speeds in the US and Japan because they were not strong markets for Huawei, and because users had chosen cheaper models with less-capable modems.

Opensignal said Apple’s success in markets like Brazil, Taiwan and Costa Rica was an indication that users preferred premium-priced devices and premium mobile tariffs than in other countries where iPhone adoption was more widespread and mainstream.

The study observed that smartphone models with a higher LTE category tend to be more expensive and support more network technologies.

“All 5G smartphone models support at least LTE Category 16 and would count as high-tier devices in this grouping. However, there are very small numbers of 5G smartphone devices in the market, at least for now,” the report stated.

When we compare the users of the three largest smartphone makers into three groups based on the network capabilities of their smartphone, the report said in the high-tier smartphone category, Samsung users experienced the fastest download speeds.

This, according to the study, is because their users enjoy 26.6 Mbps globally compared with 25.1 Mbps for Apple users and just 24.4 Mbps for Huawei users.

In the mid-tier smartphone category, the report said, “Apple users are slightly faster than second-placed Huawei users. iPhone users experience 16.5 Mbps, compared with 16.3 Mbps for Huawei and just 14.4 Mbps for Samsung users. This category makes up the bulk of Apple users, however, these iPhone models have often been priced at a similar level to Samsung and Huawei high-end models.”

In the low-tier smartphone segment, Opensignal said Huawei users experienced the fastest speeds with 12.1 Mbps, compared with 9.7 Mbps for Samsung users and 8.9 Mbps for Apple users.

This last category, according to the research firm, makes up 49 per cent of Samsung users and is the largest tier in Samsung’s user base.

Source: https://punchng.com/samsung-devices-lead-in-fast-download-speed-report/

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Why 2019 is the best year ever to buy a smartphone

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In late 2017, Apple released the iPhone X and while it was a joy to use it also raised the bar for smartphone prices, starting at $999. After seeing flagship sales stagnate over the past year and a half while companies like OnePlus push innovation forward at lower prices, 2019 is the year that smartphone buyers reap the benefits of pricing and technology.

It’s easy to find a great phone today. In fact, current flagship devices are so good you really don’t need to be replacing them every year.

While ZDNet’s Jason Perlow argued that 2019 is the worst smartphone year ever primarily due to price and minor updates, I argue it is the best smartphone year ever with more affordable flagships with stunning camera performance, reliable all-day long battery life, fast performance, and attractive designs that now mean buyers can keep their phones for two or more years without compromise. Chinese smartphone manufacturers continue to push innovation and smartphone technology forward, but that doesn’t mean others are standing by while the US government restricts sales of Chinese companies from the likes of Huawei and ZTE.

Jason stated:

“All in all, this has shaped up to be a pretty unexciting year for smartphones. They lack significant innovation compared to the previous year, and quite frankly they all look dull and even downright ugly with the big camera bulges.” 

I’m not sure which phones Jason has been looking at, but Samsung has lovely Prism and Aura color schemes on its S10 and Note 10 lines, Google provides a fun color with bright power buttons as an alternative to black and white colors, there are four color options for the iPhone XR in addition to black and white, and the OnePlus 7 Pro Almond and Nebula Blue colors are downright gorgeous. The rumored iPhone 11 appears ugly in pictures, but we’ll have to wait and see what it looks like in real life to pass judgement. You also cannot have amazing camera performance without space for sensors and other than the rumored iPhone 11 there’s nothing that obtrusive about current smartphone camera designs.

AFFORDABLE FLAGSHIPS

A month after Apple launched the XS and XS Max last fall, it rolled out the iPhone XR at $749. This is $250 less than the XS and $350 less than the XS Max, which is a significant amount. The Apple iPhone XR is the reasonably priced choice and it turns out it is a crowd favorite with colorful back options, the longest lasting new iPhone battery, and a big display to help you get work done.

Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 series in March with the Galaxy S10e currently priced in the $700 range ($750 was the launch price). The S10e is $150 less than the S10 and $250 less than the S10 Plus while still having nearly all the same specifications and functionality. The S10e fits well in small pockets and can even be plugged into an external monitor and power a PC-like experience with Samsung DeX.

Google went a long ways with carrier support with the new Google Pixel 3A launching on Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular at launch. The 3A starts at just $399.99 and has nearly the same camera as the higher priced Pixel 3 with a mid-level processor that still satisfies the needs of most people. It’s an affordable option that is guaranteed to get updates for three years while offering all the functionality you could want in an Android smartphone.

TechRepublic and ZDNet smartphone experts discuss the features, specs, and pros and cons of Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Find out about battery life, ease of repair, and viability for business use. The introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone…Downloads provided by TechRepublic Premium

OnePlus launched the OnePlus 6T on T-Mobile and followed that up with the OnePlus 7 Proon the carrier as well. While it would be great to see broader US carrier support from OnePlus, lining up a US carrier is a big win that has resulted in solid sales for OnePlus.

In addition to carrier support, OnePlus was the first to roll out UFS 3.0 support for internal storage while also providing buyers with a beautiful display with 90 Hz refresh rate. Warp Charge 30 provides one of the fastest charging standards available on a phone, beat out only by Huawei’s Super Charge system. It was also one of the first to launch with 12GB of RAM. OnePlus is not sitting idly by and there are rumors that an incremental update, possibly the OnePlus 7T, will launch with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus.

Apple rolled out the iPhone X with a large center display notch in 2017 and over the next couple of years manufacturers tried out different ways to include sensors and a front-facing camera while maximizing the viewable display area. OnePlus pushed the innovation forward even a bit more with a retractable front-facing camera that makes using the OnePlus 7 Pro a sheer joy for work and media experiences.

We have also seen wide adoption of multiple camera lenses on the back of phones so that nearly any phone you purchase today can serve as your only camera with little compromise. This is one area that is sure to continue innovating as sensor makers push things forward too.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one area that demonstrates the power and capability of today’s mobile processors, but hasn’t yet realized its full potential. We see AI primarily being used today for helping us frame and capture better photos. However,  it’s an area ripe for further development as components improve and use cases evolve. Our phones today are smart enough to take care of regular tasks we perform daily. Samsung and Apple gave us a glimpse of what is to come with Siri Shortcuts and Samsung Bixby Quick Commands.

Although the first Galaxy Fold failed, Samsung is planning to release it again next month. Huawei also continues to work on its foldable phone which we should see in the next couple of months. Even though these first generation foldable phones are sure to be only for early adopters, it shows manufacturers are testing new technologies and methods to help us use our handheld computers in new ways.

I’m not sure what people expect their smartphones to do that isn’t being done now and as we look at prices and innovation in 2019 it’s pretty clear this was a fantastic year for smartphones with hints of greater things in 2020. We look forward to full 5G adoption, AI doing more for us without requiring direct user feedback, and so much more. With affordable options being offered by the major players we can also expect more for less in the years to come.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/why-2019-is-the-best-year-ever-to-buy-a-smartphone-affordable-flagships-galore/

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