Cebit 2017 – Interview with Adrian David Cheok

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CeBIT, 14 Feb. 2017

http://www.cebit.de/en/news/article/interview-with-adrian-david-cheok-41024.xhtml

 

When he thinks about the future, he sees people with chips in their bodies having sex and even being married to robots. At CeBIT Global Conferences Professor Adrian David Cheok will take you on a journey right into the future.

Professor Cheok, what will your talk at the CeBIT Global Conferences be about?
My talk introduces new facilities that are arising in the hyperconnected internet era within human media spaces. This allows new embodied interaction between humans, species, and computation both socially and physically, with the aim of novel interactive communication and entertainment.Humans can develop new types of communication environments using all the senses, including touch, taste, and smell, which can increase support for multi-person multi-modal interaction and remote presence.

In this talk, I will present an alternative ubiquitous computing environment and space based on an integrated design of real and virtual worlds, and discuss some different research prototype systems for interactive communication, culture, and play.

Your daughter Kotoko is at the age of 10 right now. What do you think will her daily (digital) life be like in 10 years from now?

The digital technologies 10 years from now will be much more immersive and pervasive. Our digital communication will be more about transmitting experience and less about transmitting information. We will be able to able to send and receive multisensory data through the internet, experience and interact with a remote environment with all of our senses.

Internet will be accessible from our everyday objects and we will no longer need a computer or mobile device to get online. It is also possible that humans will have microchips embedded in our bodies to collect and share data with machines and other humans.

In 10 years’ time, the boundary between humans and technologies will become much less noticeable.

You say “My great passion is to invent and make totally new kinds of computing and media that will help people, society, and the environment.” Could you explain this a little bit more?

In my lab, I always encourage my researchers and students to do quantum step, blue sky research and adopt radical thinking. Instead of making small improvements and building on current technologies, we should invent technologies that have never existed before, and think about how our research and inventions can benefit the society in 10 or 20 years.

I recently started a conference on Love and Sex with Robots. Although now it seems controversial and radical for humans to have robots as partners, have sex with robots or marry robots, I believe this will become more common in the next 20 years. Robots will become very much involved, both physically and emotionally, in people’s lives. We are now working on several projects on this topic, including a kissing robot and a conversational agent which can have different personalities.

With the technological advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence, I believe humans will be able to develop more intimate, emotional and humanistic relationships with robots.

In the last few years everyone has been talking about VR and augmented reality. Will it be the big “game changer” in 2017?

I think VR and AR technologies have already been a big game changer in 2016. The global phenomenon of Pokémon Go shows that AR applications have really taken off in the consumer market, and this has created big opportunities for companies, marketers and developers to use the technology in their businesses.

For example, as a real-world location based AR game, Pokemon Go allows retail stores and cafes to use a gamification marketing approach to attract players to visit their shops. We will also expect more organisations to use AR and VR technologies in their exhibitions, tours and advertisements.

With VR headsets becoming cheaper and more accessible, more users are likely to adopt this technology. At this point, I think we need more content creation to push AR/VR applications into the mainstream.

What are you most looking forward to personally about your CeBIT visit?

I’m most looking forward to the Internet of Things track at the CeBIT conference. This has been a most talked about topic in the last few years. I’m excited to find out what are the latest innovations and applications in this area. Also, I think this is the biggest trend that is most likely going to change the world in the next 5 years.

Virtual Insanity

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By Channel NewsAsia – 31 Mar 2017

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnaconnect/virtual-insanity/3642738.html

VR (virtual reality) is one of the hottest buzzwords on the media scene today.

Together with AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality), the number of products and platforms boasting such technology has been on the rise.

We explore how the technology is being used across Asia for work and play.

MALAYSIA – Can you smell the roses, virtually

This episode takes a look at the Kissenger device, produced by Malaysian engineer and inventor Dr Adrian Cheok who believes that the future of mixed reality – the integration of the virtual and physical world – means adding smell, taste and touch. The Kissenger device attaches to one’s smartphone and allows the user to send virtual kisses. We check out what other zany VR tricks the mad scientist has up his sleeve…

Robots may change the sex industry but could they replace intimacy?

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By  – 5th April 2017 – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/05/robots-may-change-the-sex-industry-but-could-they-replace-intimacy?CMP=share_btn_tw

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The fourth industrial revolution promises to unleash all sorts of dark visions upon society: mass unemployment and social unrest from automation, the Internet of Things spying on everything we do, babies gently rocked to sleep by machines.

There will also be sex robots.

As we whittle away our obsolete lives as technology zooms past human capabilities, those unproductive hours should at least be enjoyable, thanks to lifelike androids fitted out for machine-precise sexual proficiency, teledildonics allowing long-distance partners to pleasure each other from across the world, and virtual reality interactions that will make low self-confidence, physical impairment or even the laws of physics no obstacle to realising one’s fantasies.

Then again, sex workers could be put out of a job, people might give up on human relationships entirely, companies are already gathering data from internet-connected dildos, and an app has just been released that encourages people to perform cunnilingus on their phones.

If anywhere is positioned on the frontline of the march of the sexbots it is Barcelona, home to a love-doll brothel that opened its doors in February only to be shut down by local authorities, in the same city where the engineer Sergi Santos released an android that can be seduced via a gamified system which has drawn criticism for sending men the wrong messages about consent.

Oliver Bendel, ‎the professor of information systems and ethics at the ‎University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, expects “perfect” sex robots capable of reading “every wish from our eyes” in as soon as 20 years’ time.

He says they could come in all shapes and sizes, not just in human form but also “abstract” constructions built purely with function in mind.

Kathleen Richardson, fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University and founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, is decidedly against the technology, warning that masturbation could become the dominant form of sexual experience by 2050 thanks to consumer capitalism supported by “techno-utopians who commercialise our relationships”.

The prospect of a boom in self-servicing doesn’t overly worry Norway’s Charles Melvin Ess, the special scientific adviser at Digmex (Digital Media and Existential Issues). “As Woody Allen pointed out long ago, it’s sex with somebody I love,” he says.

Ess does not believe sex robots will genuinely threaten the primacy of human-to-human relationships, owing to our desire to be loved: “I have a hard time imagining how anyone who owns or uses such a device will be able to forget, except perhaps very temporarily (and with the help of a lot of alcohol), that it is ‘just a machine’ and that all the appearance of desire and care is a fake,” he says.

He does concede that ubiquitous use of such devices could lead to an “ethical and emotional de-skilling” from lack of exposure to what Ess describes as the patience, perseverance, empathy and forgiveness required of a real relationship.

“By contrast, sex with a robot that I design and control down to the last detail should be trivially easy – thereby making no demands on me whatsoever,” he says.

Where convincingly humanesque sex robots are decades off, according to most experts, immersive experiences integrated with internet-connected devices are coming along much faster.

One early-phase example is the Kissinger, a mobile phone attachment that transmits accurate replications of people’s kisses online via a lip-shaped device. The creators claim it can be used for internet dating to ascertain someone’s kissing proficiency, help connect long-distance partners, or even allow a remote parent to peck their child on the cheek.

A PhD student who helped develop the device, Emma Yann Zhang, says: “It aims to fill in the missing dimension of touch in traditional digital communication, which largely focuses on verbal and audio information.”

If the intentions of the Kissinger team appear wholesome enough, the full potential of the attachment has not gone unnoticed.

Cristina Portalés of the Institute of Robotics and Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Valencia has been working on a immersive cinema that incorporates robotised platforms, aromatisers, smoke generators, water dispensers, 3D projectors and immersive sound systems.

Originally developed as a driving simulator for motorists, the platform was promoted as a potential sex simulator at the Love and Sex with Robots congress in London last year. Portalés says the Kissinger could be integrated into the system to allow users to kiss AI simulations of their favourite movie stars, for instance.

The futurologist Trudy Barber says for the most part it won’t so much be a case of technology improving sex as it will be sex improving technology. “It is a geek’s heaven to try out these things,” she says.

“I’ve always said deviation leads to innovation – our sex drive helps develop new forms of tech.”

Will it impact on real-time sexual identity, will you be cheating on your partner?

Barber argues that virtual reality connected with “innie and outie devices” will soon improve to the point that they allow people to live out whatever they wish under the cover of virtual avatars, in a more immersive version of current-day simulators such as Second Life.

“I think for people who have specific problems with identity and self-esteem, it will enable them to play around with ideas of identity,” she says.

Barber warns there are plenty of problems, such as virtual reality experiences involving sexual harassment.

“Then there [is the issue of whether] it is going to be specifically gender-orientated, will it impact on real-time sexual identity, will you be cheating on your partner – the same old questions we’ve been asking about sex since the internet came along,” she says.

Virtual reality pornography is already widespread and sex workers are embracing IoT-connected sex toys to allow clients to interact with them from afar over webcams.

Sharon Jennings, manager of the Sex Industry Network in South Australia, a state where sex work is criminalised, says the technology as it improves will enable people in her industry to navigate “draconian” laws.

“It is quite exciting, the potential – it would also allow sex workers to access clients in remote areas where anonymity is limited,” she says.

“People can increasingly operate as sex workers in their own bedroom and the other people in the house might not have a clue.”

Jennings sees the potential for IoT toys but laughs off the idea that sex robots could prompt a jobs wipeout in her industry. “Seeing sex workers is about more than penetrative sex – clients want to be held and touched,” she says.

“If sex toys could replace human intimacy, I’d have traded my husband in years ago for a Sybian. It would be expensive, sure – but not as expensive as a husband.”