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Sex robots on way for elderly and lonely...but pleasure-bots have a dark side, warn experts

Sex robots could soon be used to keep the elderly company in care homes and help couples enjoy long distances sexual relationships, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) has said.

There are currently four manufacturers making life-like robotic dolls worldwide, but experts predict that in coming decades they could become widespread, used not just as a fetish, but for sexual therapy and as companions for lonely, disabled or older people.

Noel Sharkey, Emeritus Professor of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, and co-founder of the FRR, said it was time for the government and the public to decide whether to regulate pleasure-bots.

“I can tell you that robots are certainly coming,” he said at the launch of the new consultation report in central London.

“The concern is that this is going on nobody is talking about it. People snigger about them, but they are actually shipping quite a lot and we are going to see them a lot more.

“They are being proposed for the elderly in care homes, which I think is controversial. If you have severe Alzheimer’s you can’t really tell the difference.

“We need to think about as a society what we want to do about it.”

Imagine treating racism by letting a bigot abuse a brown robot. Would that work? Probably not Patrick Lin, Philosophy professor and robot ethicist The report found that up to two thirds of men and about 30 per cent of women were in favour of using sex robots, which currently cost between £4,000 and £12,000 and can be customised by sex, height, hair colour, eye colour and even personality.

Companies are also starting to incorporate artificial intelligence so robots can communicate and respond to human emotions.

Doll brothels already operate in South Korea, Japan and Spain, while the first robotic oral sex coffee shop opened in Paddington, west London, last year.

The report said that as robotics, telecommunications and virtual reality merged, sex dolls could be created which was silicon replica of a long-distance partner, so that couples could have virtual sex and even speak to each other through the doll’s mouth.

But the authors warned that the march of sex robots raised serious moral and ethical questions which needed to be addressed. They warned that users could become socially isolated or even addicted to the machines which could never replace real human contact.

“It’s very sad because it’s going to be a one way relationship,” said Prof Sharkey.

“If people bond with robots it’s very worrying. You are loving an artefact that can’t love you back, and the best they can do is fake it.”

The report also warned of a ‘darker’ side to the industry in which companies were programming ‘shy’ or ‘reluctant’ personalities into their dolls so that users could feel they were forcing the robots to have sex. TrueCompanion’s robot Roxxxy Gold, for example, can be set to ‘Frigid Farah.’

Japanese sex doll manufacturer Trottla has also started selling underage schoolgirl dolls for paedophiles. The company was created by a self-confessed paedophile Shin Takagi who claims he has never harmed a child because he uses the doll.

Although some experts claim such robots could prevent the rape of women, or the abuse of children, the report warns that it could exacerbate the problem.

Philosophy Professor and robot ethicist Patrick Lin of California Polytechnic said: “Treating paedophiles with robot sex-children is both a dubious and repulsive idea.

“Imagine treating racism by letting a bigot abuse a brown robot. Would that work? Probably not. The ethics of sex robots goes beyond whether anyone is physically harmed.”

The authors said it may be necessary to criminalise ‘robotic rape’ and to build in ‘handled roughly’ sensors like those used in pinball machines to prevent users developing violent sexual tendencies. And they called for a complete ban on child sex dolls.

Aimee van Wynsberghe, assistant professor of ethics at the University of Delft, and co founder of the FRR, said: “There isn’t a conversation happening in the general public about what is acceptable, permissible and what should be promoted.

“This is a preliminary step to engage policymakers, academics, the tech industry and the general public.”

The consultation report is on the FRR website where people are invited to comment on its findings. The panel hopes to make final recommendations next year.

The Foundation for Responsible Robotics operates from the Hague Institute for Global Justice at the Hague and run consultations on all areas of robotics. It has 200 members including some of the world’s most eminent robotics academics.

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You probably have to look at imagery of death and dying regularly to stay focused on what really counts in life: great sex before you are gone anyway.

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Secret Service officer caught in online pedophile sting gets 20 years, lifetime supervision

Following the high-profile case of Anthony Weiner, the U.S. Attorneys' Offices have successfully prosecuted another case under the Project Safe Childhood initiative.

A former Secret Service officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for conducting sexual conversations with a minor and attempting the exchange of explicit images.

Lee Robert Moore, 38, of Church Hill, Md., pleaded guilty March 1, 2017, after Delaware State Police with the Delaware Child Predator Task Force had sexual chats online with Moore, at times when he was a work, and were requested to send him explicit photos while posing as a 14-year-old girl.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement found Moore maintained social media profiles for similar behavior, including the sending of sexual images, with a 14-year-old girl in Texas and another 17-year-old girl in Missouri.

Moore was assigned to the White House by the Secret Service at the time of his 2015 arrest, and was terminated from his position as he was held in custody since that time.

Project Safe Childhood was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to use federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals exploiting children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

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Transgender woman pens letter about testicle removal case

DENVER - A transgender woman has penned a letter explaining why she chose to ask an unlicensed Colorado man to remove her testicles in what she called a "back-alley" procedure.

James Lowell Pennington, 57, is accused of operating on the transgender woman and is now in a Denver jail facing charges of aggravated assault.

Records state Pennington “used the scalpel and surgically disconnected and removed the victim’s 2 testicles and then sutured the opening back up."

The transgender woman's wife told police after changing the dressing on the incision, a large amount of blood poured out. She called 911, and paramedics called police.

In her letter, the transgender woman - who called herself Jane Doe - said she is not a victim of Pennington, but instead is a victim of a social and healthcare system that forced her to take a risk.

"Until this system is fixed and transgender people are encouraged and able to get the care we need, there will always be cases like me," she wrote.

Here is a copy of her letter:

Note: Portions of the letter may be considered graphic to some readers.

Three days prior to writing this I had an unlicensed operation done in my home to remove my testicles. There was a complication during the operation and while the operation was successful in its purpose, I started to bleed heavily afterward and my spouse was forced to call emergency medical services. Shortly thereafter the man who did the operation on me was arrested, and shortly after that his name was released to the press who have now released several stories painting the man as a monster and me as a victim.I am here to verify that I am indeed a victim. However, I am not a victim of 57 year old James Lowell Pennington who is the suspect in this case. I am a victim of a society and healthcare system that focuses on trying to demonize transgender people and prevent us from getting the medical transition we need instead of trying to do what is best for us. Arranging a back-alley surgery was out of pure desperation due to a system that failed me.Do not paint me as a victim of naivety or obsession and do not paint Mr. Pennington as a monster.I would like to state that this issue is not to debate the validity of transgender people and our genders. Any expert will tell you that gender is separate from reproductive sex and that transgender people are the genders we claim to be, and that we have a need to be able to live as that gender in our lives. While some may incorrectly state that transgender people are “new” or a fad, we have existed in many societies for thousands of years. Examples include the Two Spirited people in many American Indian Tribes, and the Hijra in the Eastern Indian tradition. While I know these facts won’t stop misinformed corners of the internet and some political sects from attacking transgender people as they often do, I want it known right now that such opinions should be considered settled.To get stuck on that takes away from the issue at hand.I was assigned male sex at birth, however, my gender has been female since I developed any sort of gender identity. I have known that I was transgender since I was a child. Well, more correctly I felt strongly that I wanted to be and identified as a female from before the age of ten. Around ten this identity became stronger and stronger. I believe that this was because puberty was approaching, and with it larger noticeable differences between males and females which caused me severe emotional pain because my mind did not match the body I was given. There was no confusion to me as to what gender I was. I knew that I was a girl. My only confusion was why my body was not the same as the gender of my heart, and why it was considered so wrong for me to be able to live as a member of that gender.As I went through my adolescent years I tried various methods to destroy these feelings. I tried to just be a devout Christian and follow the Bible which I was raised by. I tried to be a gay man and just date men and be happy with my sex. However, religion can not make someone something they are not, and gender identity and sexual orientation are separate aspects of a person. When neither of those worked I became extremely reckless and turned to drugs and alcohol because I could not deal with the pain of going through life as something I was not. These conflicting and destructive behaviors continued into my early twenties.Around 22 years old I decided to try to be true to myself and went to several therapists who quickly agreed that I was indeed a transgender woman and not simply suffering from some other mental illness which was causing me to experience these feelings. I then started female hormone therapy to help make my body match my mind, and started living full time as the woman that I always knew I was.While I managed to obtain counseling and hormone therapy for a time, I ended up losing my insurance which made me lose both of these resources. This turned into the hardest time in my life, and began a trend of setbacks whenever I pursued transition.Eventually I was able to get back on my feet and get back on female hormone therapy. This was in 2013, and I have been on HRT since then. Since then my life has improved enormously. I no longer abuse drugs and rarely ever drink, and when I do, I do so only at home with my wife where we are safe. I no longer want to die as I did from childhood into my young adulthood because I could not be true to myself. I have met and married the love of my life as I no longer have had to hold back and pretend to be a man which always kept me from being able to seriously pursue a romantic relationship before. The last few years have been the greatest in my life. Living as the woman that I have long known that I am has been a true blessing for me.However, not all in life was smooth. I have long been plagued by genital dysphoria – or in layman’s terms feelings of extreme depression, stress, and overall negativity when one’s genitals do not match those of their gender. There are two major operations for transgender women (“male to female”) to deal with genital dysphoria. The first and better known option is called genital reassignment surgery (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a “sex change operation”). This operation takes the penis and scrotum and reworks them to be a ‘neo-vagina’ which functions and looks similar to any other vagina up to where the cervix and uterus would be. The second operation – one which has been practiced for thousands of years – is called an orchiectomy and involves the removal of the testicles which completely stops the production of unwanted testosterone – a hormone which causes secondary male sexual characteristics and prevents estrogen from making desired changes on the body.Many transgender women seek one or both of these operations. Unfortunately, they are governed by an outdated set of standards of care from 1979 which is currently known as WPATH or “World Professional Association of Transgender Health” Standards, but was originally known as the Benjamin Standards of care, named after a cisgender (non transgender) psychiatrist who had very limited experience and knowledge on transgender people. These standards of care have largely remained unchanged during the last 40 years.According to the WPATH standards of care, a transgender person must obtain letters from anywhere from one to three psychiatrists which take a minimum of one year each to obtain just to get permission for a surgery that the patient already knows they need. These standards do nothing to help transgender people what so ever. While these gates are said to protect people from mistakenly transitioning, most people who are not sure of their gender identity are reluctant to even start hormone therapy – which has more easily reversible effects and takes months to years to have noticeable effects in most cases – much less pursue these surgeries. These sorts of surgeries (or a mastectomy or removal of the breasts in transgender men (“female to male”)) are operations which allow a transgender individual who has long known their gender to have their physical gender match their mental gender and are needed to change sex on official documentation in most jurisdictions.Unfortunately, these “standards of care” are not at all meant to help transgender people, and instead are simply placed to try to keep transgender people from transitioning due to backward and outdated beliefs that being transgender is a mental illness – a diagnosis which the latest American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual disagrees with. Due to these beliefs and a society which often demonizes transgender people led by politicians who try to outlaw our existence, treatment for transgender people is held back and stunted at every turn. Trans care is even portrayed as wrong. In several articles which spoke about this case it was stated that surgeons could not reattach my testicles as if that were a bad thing. Obviously, I wanted them gone and would have been traumatized had they been restored.These “standards of care” and societies treatment of transgender people are the only true crimes regarding my case. I tried for many years to go through legitimate routes to get these surgeries which would make my physical genitalia match my gender. Yet every time something went wrong. Whether it be the loss of insurance, or changes in the law, I have been stopped at every single turn from completing my transition. Eventually it became too much. My body is my body, and my gender is my gender, and I am the only one who gets to decide how I want my transition to go.I contacted Mr. Pennington because he offered to do me a favor and help me get an operation which I so badly needed for my mental and physical health. Not only did my genitalia cause me severe psychological trauma, the gonads also produced testosterone which interfered with my female reproductive hormone therapy, and forced me to take a testosterone blocking medication which is highly dangerous to the body over long periods of time. I had been abandoned and tossed aside by a highly transphobic system and was kept year after year from completing my transition. Mr. Pennington presented me an opportunity to achieve this goal. He offered me a kindness which the environment I live in denied me.So, no, I am not a victim of Mr. Pennington, nor is Mr. Pennington a monster. I will not be pressing charges against him because of this. I hope the District Attorney is kind to him, and while I hope he never operates again because of how dangerous it turned out to be, that he is not harshly sentenced.

I am one of many victims of a society and healthcare system which focuses on trying to bully and discourage transgender people into the shadows instead of realizing that we are here, we are real, and we deserve and absolutely need these medical resources. As long as this system continues in its present form there will continue to be events like this. Until this system is fixed and transgender people are encouraged and able to get the care we need, there will always be cases like me." Any non-surgical option, such as butea superba, would be preferable.

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