Sex in virtual reality will be common by 2030, with robots by 2050: report

By 2030 the majority of people will have virtual sex, and just 20 years later, by 2050, sex with robots will be overtaking human-human sex, a researcher has claimed.

The change in our behaviors will come as “love and the act of sex” become separated, with relationships retaining the important human element, according to Dr Ian Perason, the author of a paper on what the future of sex will look like.

The report comes as sexual interaction with emerging technology is facing mounting criticism from opponents. Pearson, who is also an author and fellow of the British Computer Society, sees robots and virtual reality becoming involved in our sexual practices, as well as “direct nervous system links, dream linking and body sharing”.

“Although most people will have virtual sex by 2030, some might only use straightforward VR without the sex toys as part of that,” the report: Future of Sex Report: The Rise of Robosexuals, says.

“By 2035 toys will be better developed and most people will be well used to VR sex by then, so will have acquired a collection of sex toys that interwork with VR.” However, the report should be taken with a pinch of salt as it is sponsored by online sex shop Bondara and is not published in a peer-reviewed journal.

By 2050, the report says sex with robots will have the potential to overtake human-only sex as people will want to “embrace relationship-free robot sex”. A large hurdle in robotic sex replacing humans is the cost and production of the robots, however there will be the potential for the human to customise the sort of experience they want.

“An AI doesn’t have to live in a robot, it can be anywhere, so you could use your favourite AI with any robot,” the report says. It goes on the state that artificial intelligence can help people “live their ultimate fantasy” without having any “emotional commitments”.

Serious concerns about this sort of approach and attitude to sex have been raised by the Campaign Against Sex Robots, which says that the robots “further sexually objectifies women and children.” The Campaign says that an ethical approach is needed as sex robots can have a “detrimental effect” on society.

“We propose that the development of sex robots will further reduce human empathy that can only be developed by an experience of mutual relationship,” the Campaign says.

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Image and featured image courtesy of Bondara.

Away from the murky area of sex robots, the report goes on to say that virtual reality, which will see the mainstream sale of headsets begin next year, can help to reduce barriers to sex.

“VR will allow people to have sex who might otherwise have few opportunities: people who are too old or restricted in what they can do in reality. In VR, real appearance and ability cease to be barriers, since AI can fill any gaps.”

As VR gets nearer to its commercial launch, VR porn has already been made available and has already been the subject of considerable discussion (links SFW).

At present the potential for VR porn and experiences is very generic, but the report suggests that as time goes on experiences will be able to be customised for individuals. It also predicts that VR headsets will be replaced by contact lenses that are able to replicate what VR headsets can currently achieve.

If a person has a specific fantasy, they will be able to indulge in a VR environment that incorporates that. The author suggests that a person would be able to experience a scenario with their favourite “star” or experience something that their human partner is not open to.

Pearson does conclude by saying that “social values” will change, but says that relationships with humans won’t end – just that “love and sex will become increasingly separated and independent.”

Soviet report detailing lunar rover Lunokhod-2 released for first time

Russian space agency Roskosmos has released an unprecedented scientific report into the lunar rover Lunokhod-2 for the first time, revealing previously unknown details about the rover and how it was controlled back on Earth.

The report, written entirely in Russian, was originally penned in 1973 following the Lunokhod-2 mission, which was embarked upon in January of the same year. It had remained accessible to only a handful of experts at the space agency prior to its release today, to mark the 45th anniversary of the mission.

Bearing the names of some 55 engineers and scientists, the report details the systems that were used to both remotely control the lunar rover from a base on Earth, and capture images and data about the Moon’s surface and Lunokhod-2’s place on it. This information, and in particularly the carefully documented issues and solutions that the report carries, went on to be used in many later unmanned missions to other parts of the solar system.

As a result, it provides a unique insight into this era of space exploration and the technical challenges that scientists faced, such as the low-frame television system that functioned as the ‘eyes’ of the Earth-based rover operators.

A NASA depiction of the Lunokhod mission. Above: an image of the rover, courtesy of NASA, overlaid onto a panorama of the Moon taken by Lunokhod-2, courtesy of Ruslan Kasmin.

One detail that main be of particular interest to space enthusiasts and experts is the operation of a unique system called Seismas, which was tested for the first time in the world during the mission.

Designed to determine the precise location of the rover at any given time, the system involved transmitting information over lasers from ground-based telescopes, which was received by a photodetector onboard the lunar rover. When the laser was detected, this triggered the emission of a radio signal back to the Earth, which provided the rover’s coordinates.

Other details, while technical, also give some insight into the culture of the mission, such as the careful work to eliminate issues in the long-range radio communication system. One issue, for example, was worked on with such thoroughness that it resulted in one of the devices using more resources than it was allocated, a problem that was outlined in the report.

The document also provides insight into on-Earth technological capabilities of the time. While it is mostly typed, certain mathematical symbols have had to be written in by hand, and the report also features a number of diagrams and graphs that have been painstakingly hand-drawn.

A hand-drawn graph from the report, showing temperature changes during one of the monitoring sessions during the mission

Lunokhod-2 was the second of two unmanned lunar rovers to be landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union within the Lunokhod programme, having been delivered via a soft landing by the unmanned Luna 21 spacecraft in January 1973.

In operation between January and June of that year, the robot covered a distance of 39km, meaning it still holds the lunar distance record to this day.

One of only four rovers to be deployed on the lunar surface, Lunokhod-2 was the last rover to visit the Moon until December 2013, when Chinese lunar rover Yutu made its maiden visit.

Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.