Aim of the road: will automation put an end to the American trucker?

Americas 2 million truckers have long been mythologised in popular culture. But self-driving trucks are set to lay waste to one of the countrys most beloved jobs and the fallout could be huge

Jeff Baxter’s sunflower-yellow Kenworth truck glistens as bright and almost as big as the sunlight. Four men clean the glint cab in the hangar-like truck wash at Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop.

Baxter has made a pitstop at Iowa 80 before picking up a 116 ft-long gust turbine blade that he’s driving down to Texas, 900 miles away.

Baxter, 48, is one of the 1.8 million Americans, principally humen, who drive heavy trucks for a living, the single most common job in many US countries. Driving is one of the biggest occupations in the world. Another 1.7 million people drive taxis, buses and delivery vehicles in the US alone. But for how long? Having “disrupted” industries including manufacturing, music, journalism and retail, Silicon Valley has its eyes on trucking.

Google, Uber, Tesla and the major truck producers are looking to a future in which people like Baxter will be replaced- or at the very least downgraded to co-pilots- by automated vehicles that will save billions but will cost millions of jobs. It will be one of the biggest changes to the jobs market since the invention of the automated loom- challenging the livelihoods of millions across the world.

” I’m scared to death of that ,” says Baxter, an impish human with bad teeth that he conceals behind his hand as he laughs.” I can’t operate a pocket calculator !”

But Baxter is in the minority. Iowa 80 is a great place to check the heartbeat of the trucking community. Interstate 80- the second longest in the country- runnings from downtown San Francisco to the edge of New York City. The truck stop, about 40 miles east of Iowa City, serves 5,000 customers each day, offering everything they could need from shops and restaurants to a cinema, chiropractor, dentist, barber and a chapel.

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“I’m scared to death of[ automation ]. I can’t operate a pocket calculator”Jeff Baxter

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Every week, a major tech company seems to announce some new development in automated trucking. Next month, the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, will unveil an electric-powered semi that is likely to be semi-autonomous. But most of the truckers I spoke to were not concerned by the rise of the robots.” I don’t think a robot could do my job ,” says Ray Rodriguez, 38, who has driven up a batch of cars from Tennessee.” Twenty years from now, perhaps .”

Nor do the managers of the Iowa 80 assure their jobs changing any time soon.” The infrastructure only isn’t there ,” says Heather DeBaillie, marketing administrator of Iowa 80. Nor does she think that people are ready for autonomous trucks.” Suppose about the airplane. They could automate an airplane now. So why don’t they have airplanes without pilots ?” She also argues that the politics of laying off so many people will not pass muster in Washington.

The family-run Iowa 80 has been serving truckers for 53 years, and is so confident about its future that it is expanding to secure its claim to being the world’s biggest truck stop, adding more eateries and shopping space to the” Disneyland of truckers “.

But not everyone is so confident that truck stops will survive the age of the algorithm. Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul, the histories of their own lives as a long-distance truck driver, says the working day of the truck driver as we know him are coming to an end. Trucking is a $700 bn industry, in which a third of costs go to compensating drivers, and, he says, if the tech firms can grab a slice of that, they will.

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Left to right: Iowa 80, known as the’ Disneyland of truck stops ‘; Jeff Baxter, 49, with his truck after having it washed; Douglas Berry, 55, with his truck and trailer. Composite: John Richard for the Guardian

” The only human beings left in the modern render chain are truck driver. If you go to a modern warehouse now, say Amazon or Walmart, the trucks are unloaded by machines, the trucks are loaded by machines, they are put into the warehouse by machines. Then there is a guy, probably inducing $10 an hour, with a loading of screens watching these machines. Then what you have is a truckers’ lounge with 20 or 30 guys standing around getting paid. And that drives the furnish chain people nuts ,” he says.

The goal, he believes, is to get rid of the drivers and” have ultimate efficiency “.

” I think this is imminent. Five years or so. This is a space race- the race to get the first driverless vehicle that is viable ,” says Murphy.” My fellow drivers don’t appear to be particularly concerned about this. They think it’s way off into the future. All the person or persons I have talked to on this book tour , nobody thinks this is imminent except for me. Me and Elon Musk, I guess .”

The future is coming. Arguably it is already here. Several nations have already laid the groundwork for a future with fewer truckers. California, Florida, Michigan and Utah have passed laws permitting trucks to drive autonomously in “platoons”, where two or more big rigs drive together and synchronize their movements.

The stage has been set for a battle between the forces of labor and the tech titans. In July, the powerful Teamsters union successfully pushed Congress to slow legislation for nations looking to broaden the use of autonomous vehicles. After arm-twisting by the union, the US House of Representatives energy and commerce committee exempted vehicles over 10,000 lb from new rules meant to velocity the development of autonomous cars. Many truckers came into the industry after being be replaced by automation in other industries, and the transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, has said she is “very concerned” about the impact of self-driving autoes on US jobs.

The Budweiser cans driven by self-driving truck.

But Ryan Petersen watches the Teamsters’ move as a velocity bump at best. Petersen, the founder of Flexport, a tech-savvy freight logistics company, says fully operational self-driving trucks will start replacing undertakings within the next year, and will probably become commonplace within 10.

” Labor accounts for 75% of the cost of transporting shipments by truck, so adopters can begin to realize those savings. Beyond that, while truckers are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an eight-hour breach, a driverless truck can drive for the entire day. This effectively doubles the output of the trucking network at a one-quarter of the cost. That’s an eight-times increased number of productivity, without taking into consideration other benefits gained by automation ,” he says.

Larger trucks making highway trips, like those occupying the 900 -truck parking places at Iowa 90, are the lowest-hanging fruit and will be automated first, Petersen says.

Last year, Otto, a self-driving truck company owned by Uber, successfully delivered 45,000 cans of Budweiser in a truck that drove the 130 -odd miles from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs. A semi-automated platoon of trucks crossed Europe last year in an experiment coordinated by DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, Scania and Volvo.

But the automation that seems to most fear drivers at Iowa 80 concerns their log books. Truck firms are shifting drivers over to computerized logs- and they dislike it. The new system adds another layer of oversight to an industry that is already heavily governed, and will restriction where and when drivers can stop. A driver looking to add an extra 30 minutes to his ride in order to make it to the truck stop rather than rest up in a layby might find that alternative gone, under a system that is centrally controlled rather than filled in by him in the log volumes that occupy a long shelf in Iowa 80′ s giant trucker store.

The trucker holds a special place in American myth: sometimes a emblem of freedom and the open road, sometimes a threat. Truckers entered popular culture from all directions, from the existential horror of Spielberg’s Duel, to Convoy, the bizarre trucker protest anthem that became a global reach and introduced the world to CB radio slang-” Let them truckers roll, 10 -4 !”

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Left to right: Ray Rodriguez sets wheel-bolt cover-ups on his truck; promotional material for Smokey and the Bandit; the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. Composite: John Richard/ The Guardian/ Universal Pictures

In the 1970 s, Hollywood’s he-men wanted to be truckers: Kris Kristofferson in Convoy, inspired by the song; Burt Reynolds CB-slanging his style through Smokey and the Bandit I and II. Thelma and Louise took their retaliation on a cat-calling trucker in 1991. Hollywood, presciently, had a cyborg drive a big rig in Terminator 2, and ran full robot with Optimus Prime in the Transformers franchise. At the turn of the 21 st century, the ever nostalgic hipsters’ love of trucker hats and T-shirts resurrected America’s fetishization of the long-distance driver.

But it’s a nostalgia out of sync with a reality of declining wages, thanks in part to declining union powers, restricted freedoms, and a chore under mortal threat from technology, says Murphy. Truckers made an average of $38,618 a year in 1980. If wages had just kept pace with inflation, that would be over $114,722 today- but last year the average wage was $41,340.

” The myth is that the long-haul truck driver is the culture evolution of the free-range cowboy from the 19 th century ,” says Murphy.” In fact, trucking is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. Every move the trucker makes is tracked by a computer. We have logs we need to keep every time we stop, pulling over, take a leak. The truck’s speed, braking, acceleration is all recorded. This is not a cowboy on the open range. This is more like 1984 than 1894.”

Douglas Barry has been driving trucks since 1990. A wiry firecracker of a human, Barry says those pushing for automation are failing to see the bigger image. The general public is simply not ready to see 80,000 lb of 18-wheeler flying down the highway with no one at the wheel.

” That big old rig could blow sky-high, slam into a school. It needs a human being. There isn’t a machine that can equal a human being ,” he says.” Artificial intelligence can be hacked … Who is ready for that? I wouldn’t want my family going down the road next to a truck that’s computer-operated .”

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“They are going to look at driver operated vehicles the route people now look at a pregnant woman smoking”Finn Murphy

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He says the involvement of the tech companies has stopped people from go looking for more holistic solutions to transportation problems. The answer is better roads, more delivery points for trains, streamlining the supply system- not just looking for ways of cutting manpower.

” A plenty of these people at Google and so forth are very intelligent. But in a lot of ways they are out of touch with reality ,” Barry says.

Yet computers don’t get tired, don’t drink or take drugs, and don’t get distracted or get road rage. Murphy, the author, says the debate that people are better than machines will not hold for long- especially as more and more people get are applied to autonomous cars.

” The premise is that we are living in some kind of driver utopia now and machines are going to destroy that ,” he says.” The fact is that we have 41,000 freeway deaths in America every year. If we piled those bodies up, that would be a public health crisis. But we are so used to the 41,000 demises that we don’t even think about it .”

Virtually all those demises are from driver error, he says.” What if we took that number down to 200? Here’s how it seems to me. Thirty years from now my grandchildren are going to say to me:’ You people had pedals on machines that you slowed down and sped up with? You had a wheel to turn it? And everybody had their own? And you were killing 41,000 people a year? You people were savages !’

” They are going to look at driver-operated vehicles the style people now look at a pregnant woman smoking ,” he says.” It’ll be the absolute epitome of barbarism .”

It will also be a altered in the workplace of historical proportions.” I watch a lot of Star Trek ,” says Baxter, as he prepares to get back on the road.” The inventions of an innovative intellect can accomplish a lot of things. I simply don’t want to see automated trucks coming down the road in my lifetime .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

CES 2016: six things to look forward to this year( including the smart bra)

The worlds largest consumer technology event is opening its doors in Las Vegas. Heres what to expect

When the Consumer Electronics Show first opened in 1967, it featured simply 14 vendors and was dominated by televisions. Sony launched their first VCR there three years later, and, in the 1980 s, Nintendo debuted its first games entertainment system on the prove floor.

This year, 3,200 vendors will take over Las Vegas for a week for the technology industrys pre-eminent trade demonstrate, offering the clearest window into a future in which everything, from your cleaning machine to your bra, has a computer chip. And there really is a vendor pitching a smart bra.

Through the massive foyers, entrepreneurs show off experimental contraptions of the future; firms have daisies with their latest mega-offerings, and small day vendors hawk trendy gifts. Last year, that would be selfie sticks; this year, hoverboards.

Cars

Tesla

New autopilot features are demonstrated in a Tesla Model S. Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/ Reuters

Cars have remained largely unchanged for the last hundred years, but in the last few months, the race to build a self-driving auto and to perfect electric vehicle technology has truly begun. The competition that started in Silicon Valley with Google and Tesla has now galvanized Detroit behemoths like Ford, General Motor and Chrysler. Expect new technology to be unveiled around cars all week from both upstart companies and familiar names.

Virtual reality

Virtual

A gamer plays a game with the virtual reality head-mounted display Playstation VR during Paris games week in October. Photograph: Chesnot/ Getty Images

The tech around VR, which even die-hard fans had largely given up on, has taken off since Facebook bought Oculus last year. This year, with proclamations from HTC, Sony and Oculus, the tech is find another leaping toward being something consumers can afford and actually use. As for those working employs: its for more than only porn, but porn might be first. Then gaming.

Health tech

Sitting at computers all day is killing us, we know that. And we hope that gadgets that prod us into activity can reverse that. So far, health trackers havent taken off, with retention rates for most step-counting wristbands falling dramatically after a few months. But as the tech around smartwatches and health-aware clothing get lighter, smarter and more fun, that might change. The key will be making health tracking fun( just as Slack has gamified work communication to great success ). Maybe the makers of the XBoxKinect can attain workouts fun with their new MyCloudTag app or Fossils Misfit health tracker can construct them sexy.

Parties

A

Many CES attendees are just there for the party. Photograph: Alamy

CES may be full of gadget nerds, but its still in Las Vegas and the parties are a huge part of why tech executives from middle managers to CEOs fly in from across the world. Many conference attendees dont even actually register for the conference, instead merely presenting up for the socials at nightclubs and private suites across the city. Well bringing dispatches from the late-night scene.

Surveillance

The government and tech companies are already tracking almost all online behavior. This year, theres new tech that induces it easier for parents and spouses to do the same. For a little more than $100, Canadian-firm Trackimo LLC will sell you a small GPS device that you can use to track the things and the people we love the most, anywhere in the world. We might suggest letting the people you love most know what youre up to first.

Drones

Drone

The DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center before the start of CES. Photo: Robyn Beck/ AFP/ Getty Images

It wasnt so long ago that dronings were the exclusive province of American snoops. Now theyre a Christmas present, a would-be Amazon delivery driver and your personal videographer. There were four drone companies at last years CES. This year there are 33. Hexo +, Fleye and Mota everyone is pitching their own versions for those who want to watch more of themselves. The latest furor seems to involve small flying contraptions that automatically follow an owner and movie them. Suppose of it as a puppy with a GoPro.

Home automation

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photograph: Eric Risberg/ AP

Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday said his New Years resolution was to build a smart butler for his home that would recognize guests, got my eye on his child and cue up Green Day, one of his favorite bands. Alternatively, the hacker whiz could just go shopping on the showroom floor this week. Bulgaria-based Allterco is marketing a home controller called She, a not-so-subtle reference to the software from the 2013 movie Her. Fibar Group, a Polish firm marketing more or less the same product, declares that everything is connected with its home automation system that connects to thermostats and smoke detectors. And Samsung is reportedly unveiling a refrigerator with a giant screen.

Representing the Guardian the coming week is likely to be us, Nellie and Danny, two new recruits of the Guardian San Francisco bureau exploring all the nooks and crannies of 2016s biggest customer tech. Danny has volunteered to wear a smart bra for a day ( E d note: Danny says no, he did not ). See you on the other side.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Humans 2.0: fulfill the entrepreneur who wants to put a chip in your brain

Bryan Johnsons company, Kernel, is intended to improve mental function and treat disorders by creating a brain interface

Bryan Johnson isn’t short of ambition. The founder and CEO of neuroscience company Kernel wants” to expand the bounds of human intelligence “. He is planning to do this with neuroprosthetics; brain augmentations that can improve mental function and treat disorders. Put simply, Kernel hopes to place a chip in your brain.

It isn’t clear yet exactly how this will work. There’s a lot of excited talk about the possibilities of the technology, but- publicly, at least- Kernel’s output at the moment is an idea. A big idea.

” My hope is that within 15 years we can build sufficiently powerful tools to interface with our brains ,” Johnson says.” Can I increase my rate of learning, scope of imagination, and ability to love? Can I understand what it’s like to live in a 10 -dimensional reality? Can we ameliorate or cure neurological disease and dysfunction ?”

The shape that this technology will take is still unknown. Johnson uses the word” brain chip”, but the developments taking place in neuroprosthesis are working towards less invasive procedures than opening up your skull and cramming a bit of hardware in; injectable sensors are one prospect.

It may sound far-fetched, but Johnson has a track record of getting things done. Within his first semester at university, he’d set up a profitable business selling mobile phones to fellow students. By age 30, he’d founded online payment company Braintree, which he sold six years later to PayPal for $800 m. He employed $100 m of the proceeds to make Kernel in 2016- it now employs more than 30 people.

But Johnson, 40, says he is about more than fund. He was raised as a Mormon in Utah and it was while carrying out two years of missionary work in Ecuador that he was struck by what he describes as an” overwhelming desire to improve the well-being of others “.

His subsequent decision to leave the faith only added to this sense of purpose.” For the first time in my life, I had to sit with the notion that the closest I’d ever come to my previous vision of heaven is whatever we can construct here on Earth while I’m alive ,” he explains.

” And when I surveyed the landscape of human history, including how we treat one another and our shared home, I thought we have to do better .”

The idea for Kernel also came from a” deep personal” place, Johnson says. He suffered from chronic depression from the ages of 24 to 34, and has assured his father and stepfather face huge mental health conflicts.

Bryan
Changing minds: Bryan Johnson, founder of Kernel, will set himself forward for brain augmentation. Photo: Kelly Lee

” I spent a decade being tortured in my own mind ,” he says.” I have witnessed and experienced what happens when a brain isn’t at its best. Being able to treat “Alzheimers disease” went from’ that’d be nice’ to’ really important’ after my stepfather began proving early symptoms. Helping people overcome addiction went from’ that’d be nice’ to’ really important’ after my father suffered from drug addiction for the first 25 years of my life .”

He understands the scepticism around Kernel’s work, but argues that it has the potential to build a better, more equal society.

” What if everyone- not just the privileged- had the same access to information, learn, ability improvement, and cognitive evolution ?” he asks.

As idealistic as Johnson’s vision for the brain is, there are still big ethical questions to consider about the process, from security to the squeamishness of having a chip in your head.

Johnson describes it as a “necessary tool” for cognitive evolution, and says he’ll merrily be among the first to trial the augmentation.

Kernel is a for-profit company, however; Johnson claims that this dedicates the brand the best chance of producing a” usable product” at the end of the difficult and expensive road he is taking. While outside investment will be needed to keep the company going, public interest and funding in neuroscience has increased in the past few years, he says, and is likely to keep doing so. Elon Musk got into the field with the launch of his company, Neuralink, earlier this year, and the neuroprosthetics marketplace is expected to be worth as much as $14.6 bn by 2024.

So Johnson is keeping his focus on the future, a habit that inspired the project in the first place. He expressed the view that, while trying to work out “what were doing” next after selling Braintree, he hosted a series of 12 dinner parties with the brightest people he knew.

” I would begin each gathering with a question ,” he remembers.” What do we need to focus on today to create a world that you would love to live in by 2050?

” With minor differences, I heard the same answers nearly every time: climate science, education, healthcare, AI, governance, and security. Not once, though, did a single person- out of the hundreds who attended- mention improving the brain itself.

” And yet, the brain is everything “weve been”, everything we do, and everything we aspire to be. It seemed obvious to me that the brain is both the most consequential variable in the world and also our biggest blind spot as a species. I decided that if the root problems of humanity begin in the human mind, let’s change our intellects .”

Sign up to the regular Guardian B2B email here for more insight and advice direct to your inbox .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

World’s lamest cyborg? My microchip isn’t cool now- but it could be the future

Olivia Solon felt more key fob than RoboCop after getting implanted with a microchip to construct contactless purchases. But the future could hold much more

I took two deep breaths, then a tattooed piercer called Andy stabbed me in the fleshy part of my hand between the forefinger and thumb, injecting a tiny microchip encased in a glass capsule the size of a large grain of rice. And so I became the worlds lamest cyborg.

The radio-frequency identification( RFID) chip, once registered, allows me to open doors, unlock information technology and pay for items provided those systems use the right software and have dedicated contactless chip readers.

For now, that means that I can buy a KitKat from a vending machine in the canteen of a company called Three Square Market, based on the outskirts of River Falls, Wisconsin. The company, which provides self-service micro-markets to industries around the world, became the first in the US to offer these implants to all of its employees and a handful of journalists at a chip party this week.

The idea came earlier this year when the companys vice-president of international developing, Tony Danna, visited a co-working space called Epicenter in Sweden, which has been chipping staff since 2015.

I was trying to sell them a market, but I was so intrigued by the chips, he told the Guardian.

When he came back to Wisconsin, there was a lot of exhilaration about the technology among his colleagues, and the company decided to explore its potential, starting by chipping its own employees and experimenting with build custom software to trigger a range of experiences.

When we watched it being used by other societies we supposed, why not us? said the president and COO, Patrick McMullan, while acknowledging that the applications for the technology are fairly limited. Who knew mobile phones would be what they are? Or driverless autoes? Its not only doors and self-checkouts.

There’s a search for a fifth meat- and 19 other things podcasts taught us in 2016

Whether its asking what happens when you watch Sexuality and the City 2 more than 50 periods or which Oscar has won an Oscar, theres no question a podcast somewhere hasnt answered

1 Richard Ayoade use a ThunderCats duvet cover until he was in his late 20 s

Where we learned it The Adam Buxton podcast

Adam Buxtons life-affirming, jingle-packed ramble chats with his celebrity guests are a constant pleasure. In this two-parter, the multi-talented Ayoade went into everything from the high levels of pillows to the reaction to his notoriously awkward interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy. As funny as the pod is, you will learn a lot, too from Buxtons honest discussions of sorrow when his daddy died to how upsetting Sara Pascoe observes it when people build clicky sticky noises with their mouths.

Other lessons from this podcast Louis Theroux does a fine rendition of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie. Ellie Violet Bramley

Malcolm
Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell. Photograph: Anne Bailey

2 One of the biggest car remembers in history may have been caused by drivers pressing the incorrect pedal

Where we learned it Malcolm Gladwells Revisionist History

If you are familiar with Gladwells run, then Revisionist History is both a treat and familiar territory. The New Yorker writer often takes assumptions and things we might think to be true and unravels them to end up in a different place wholly. In his bestseller Blink, he explained why it might not have been so unusual that an unarmed man was shot 41 hours by New York police. In the best episode of Revisionist History, Gladwell appeared back at Toyotas sudden unintended acceleration phenomenon, which led to a gigantic penalty for the car maker. The conclusion after we listen to a 911 call in which a man is driven to his death by a vehicle that wont slow down was not that the cars accelerators were sticking, but that drivers unfamiliar with certain autoes were having a brain malfunction that entailed they were physically unable to differentiate between the brake and the accelerator.

Other lessons from this podcast American colleges with the nicest canteens are the worst choices for poor students; if you want to score the most free-throws in basketball, do them underarm. Will Dean

3 One day, everyone in Sweden switched to driving on the opposite side of the road

Where we learned it 99% Invisible

You neednt be an architecture or design fanatic to enjoy Roman Marss gentle unpicking of how the world around us came to look and function as it does. As well as tales about the origins of the inflatable humen they have outside automobile merchants in the US, and why they used to publicize missing kids on milk cartons, you can learn about Hgertrafikomlggningen , or H-day 3 September 1967 when everyone in Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right.

Other lessons from this podcast Californias Salton Sea was formed by mistake; 20 years ago, the world became obsessed with a phone booth in the middle of the Mojave desert. Leah Harper

4 Having your own podcast wont win you an election

Where we learned it With Her

How do we know that Hillary Clinton enjoyed a Cuban sandwich and a beer at the end of a day on the road? Well, she had her own campaign podcast, about the little details of being on the road. In the first episode, Max Linsky, of the podcast Longform, talked to her in Miami about what she was going to have for dinner that evening. As the first presidential nominee to have a campaign podcast, Clinton tried to harness the power of the medium to proves a more personable side of herself. Suffice to say, it didnthave the desired effect.

Other lessons from this podcast Clinton is a TED talks fan and has to ration her Elena Ferrante fictions. EVB

My
The hosts of My Dad Wrote a Porno.

5 Theres more than one way of motivating your sales force

Where we learned it My Dad Wrote a Porno

Pots-and-pans sales supremo Belinda Blumenthal can find lust in any situation even when she is lost in an ornamental labyrinth. The starring of the erotic fiction written by comedian Jamie Mortons father has taught the world that a regional marketings meeting has just as much potential for naked fun as a business trip to Amsterdam. Other things she has appropriated into her libidinous realm include a charity tombola, Herb Alpert, a chalet, a pomegranate, a horsebox and any sentence involving the words further access. What she has taught listeners about her ridiculously sexy life is a possibility unsavoury, but via Mortons podcast it has brought a whole lot of mirth.

Other lessons from this podcast There is such a thing as a vaginal lid; never read erotic fiction written by your dad. Hannah Verdier

6 Sacha Baron Cohen has been known to use a getaway car

Where we learned it WTF

Marc Marons WTF can be off-putting: the hosts 15 -minute opening monologue and guitar jams are often enough to deter new listeners. But when it comes to teasing out colourful details from the careers of some of Hollywoods funniest and finest, Maron is the master. Grimsby may have bombed in the cinema, but it was worth it for the interview Baron Cohen did with Maron to promote the cinema. The best bits were the details of the logistical difficulties of stimulating Brno, from how a redneck oppose mob were duped into watching a homoerotic romp to how Baron Cohen managed to escape Kansas police after being caught with , among other things, a pedal-powered sex machine in a hotel room.( He had a vehicle waiting outside with the engine running .)

Other lessons from this podcast Asking what peoples parents were like rarely gets a dull answer; if you have the US president over to record in your garage, youd better have nice neighbours; William Friedkin is the best storyteller in Hollywood. WD

Alix
Alix Fox looks into people sex lives. Photo: Ken McKay/ Rex/ Shutterstock

7 Having two vaginas doesnt mean you can have vaginal sex with two men at the same time

Where we learned it Close Encounters from the Guardian

Alix Fox pries into the complicated and fascinating lives of people for whom sex is not always wholly straightforward, from a polyamorous couple to a human paralysed from the waist down just before his honeymoon. An extraordinary interview with double-barrelled Hazel, who talked openly about the effect her condition has had on her and may have on her if she wants to have children is the standout so far.

Other lessons from this podcast Russian-doll-style dildos can cure vaginismus; having cold feet can help to delay an orgasm. LH

8 The search for a fifth meat continues

Where we learned it The Beef and Dairy Network podcast

The centuries-old assumption that there are only four meat beef, lamb, pork and chicken is crumbling after unconfirmed reports that the European Space Agency has identified a mysterious fifth meat. The Beef and Dairy Network podcast, being developed by comedian Ben Partridge, is the No 1 podcast for those involved or merely interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds. Featuring guest appearances from agricultural experts such as Josie Long, and attracting fans including Miranda Sawyer, it is a surreal beefstravaganza.

Other lessons from this podcast According to Beef and Dairy Network sponsor Mitchells, 90% of cattle can kick through a ships hull after just one month of taking hoof-strengthening supplement Steel Hoof Deluxe. EVB

A
Dont set this cow in your ships hull. Photo: Brian Brown/ Getty Images

9 John Oliver is not dead

Where we learned it The Bugle

For a decade, long-time comedy partners John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman set the world to rights via the medium of their audio newspaper for a visual world. Their riffs on anything from civil liberties( Like dogs, John, we love our own, but we get actually annoyed when other people civil liberty keep shitting on our lawns) to Texas barbecues( All I know is this, Andy: if I was a cow, and I knew that I could savour like that, Id find it very hard to make a coherent case for not being immediately killed and slow-cooked) often built the depict the funniest thing you could get on Wi-Fi. With Oliver having left the Daily Show to front his own present on HBO, the Bugle went into satirical hibernation. It awoke in mid-October, only in time for a political event so ridiculous that even Zaltzman at his most surreal couldnt have imagined it. The pods Have I Got News for You-style rotating guest co-hosts now include US comics Wyatt Cenac and Hari Kondabolu, as well as Brit Nish Kumar and brilliant Indian standup Anuvab Pal. They dont know one another as well as best friend Zaltzman and Oliver, but perhaps the other co-host, Andys sister Helen, could claim an advantage on that front. The Bugle is dead, long live the Bugle.

Other lessons from this podcast Bashar al-Assad bought LMFAOs Im Sexy and I Know It as the Syrian civil war raged. WD

10 A bloke running a driving school in Acton, west London, was also helping to prop up the death penalty in the US

Where we learned it More Perfect

In a residential area of west London, inside a build with a banner that reads Elgone Driving Academy, is a guy in his 50 s who looks a bit like William Hurt and who was the one-man operation helping to provide the narcotics used for capital punishment in the US. That was until a human rights charity alerted the UK government to his pharmaceutical broom closet of demise. In the inaugural episode of More Perfect, a Radiolab spin-off looking at how US supreme court cases affect lives miles away from the bench, the presenters investigated those three little words from the US constitution: cruel and unusual.

Other lessons from this podcast An unusual 911 call made in Houston, Texas, in 1998, led to one of the most important point LGBTQ rights decisions in the courts history, effectively inducing homosexual relations a basic civil right. EVB

11 The political insiders word for people panicking about a Trump win was bedwetters

Where we learned it Keepin it 1600

A politics podcast hosted by Barack Obamas former speechwriter and a senior communications consultant ought to shriek wonkishness, but Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer may be the two most engaging analysts of a bonkers election campaign. Having been at the heart of two US election storms, they alongside other hosts Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor know, inside-out, how this world works and share it. Their near certainty about a Clinton win up to the morning of general elections constructed 1600 one of the most reassuring political podcasts you could listen to and made their morning-after mea culpa on 9 November all the more extraordinary. Now its genuinely is high time to wet the bed.

Other lessons from this podcast The Obama team realised it was impossible to disprove crazy lies about its candidate after Fox News said in 2008 that the young Obama had been raised a Muslim when the team complained, they were told that it was an entertainment indicate. WD

12 Billy Joel has really soft hands

Where we learned it Two Dope Queens

Comedians and co-podcast hosts Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams ran where two black females have never gone before a Billy Joel concert. They sneaked in their ros in suntan lotion bottles bought on Amazon the kind that get white daughters, watching the Shins, through Coachella. And, having been given front-row tickets because Billy likes to see fairly women up at the front, they got to shake his baby-soft hands. If thats not informative enough for you, listen to the other episodes of this snort-out-loud-funny podcast from WNYC and hear some of New Yorks best female comedians talking about sex, romance, race, hair journeys and living in the city.

Other lessons from this podcast Pierce Brosnans volcano thriller Dantes Peak has a lot to tell us about how far we have come since the 90 s; talcum powder is the best method to deal with boob sweat. EVB

13 Tar heroin reeks just like capers

Where we learned it Guys We Fucked

Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson host the anti-slut-shaming podcast, featuring interviews with everyone from Jon Ronson to Stoya( and, as the title gently indicates, people with whom they have had sex ). Their interview with Wendi Kent or, as they call her, White Precious who photographs protesters outside abortion clinics, disclosed the reason she can no longer eat capers and what its like to have sex when youre homeless. But its not all heavy-going. The episode titles alone are a treat good luck concealing You didnt going to see France because you wanted to masturbate ?, His pubes were haunted? and Period sex: believes? from fellow commuters.

Other lessons from this podcast DIY HIV tests can be done at home( or on-air) with a mouth swab; comedians on the circuit all hook up with one another. LH

Sex
There is such a this as too much SatC2 I mean, you knew that already, right? Photograph: Allstar/ Warner/ Sportsphoto Ltd

14 You can watch Sexuality and the City 2 too many times

Where we learned it The Worst Idea of All Time

A lot of period, effort and fund, especially money, went into making this film, says Guy Montgomery. Weve just opened up the most disgusting can of worms. Theres no need to watch SatC2 because he and Tim Batt have done it more than 50 periods for the sake of their podcast( they did the same with Grown Ups 2 ). Mirandas nanny Magda is a spy who is gradually poisoning her, Charlotte is the other one and the whole thing is weeping out for the kind of dialogue that stimulated the Tv series great.

Other lessons from this podcast We Are Your Friends is next on your hatewatch list. HV

15 You can have a podcast about a podcast

Where we learned it Slates Serial Spoiler Specials

Slates week-by-week analysis of Serial, 2014 s podcast obsession, is perfect for when everyone you know is listening far too slowly offering tale recaps, whodunnit hypothesis and criticisms of the host, Sarah Koenig. Not to mention excavating deep down into Reddit rabbit pits about the two cases covered in so far.

Other lessons from this podcast The cow birth in season two can be seen as an agricultural metaphor for the militarys response to Bowe Bergdahls disappearance; its almost impossible to map a timeline via audio. LH

16 Moby is a CD thief

Where we learned it Heavyweight

Jonathan Goldsteins Heavyweight aims to the tell the stories of people whose lives have taken a incorrect turning somewhere. One of these was to reunited his 80 -year-old father with his elder friend before it was too late. Another was to reunite his friend Gregor who is haunted by the moment he loaned a box of Cds to a techno-producer friend. The friend, was, of course, Moby, who use many of them as the basis for his squillion-selling Play. Gregor doesnt want royalties he just wants his Cds back. And Goldstein helps him get them.

Other lessons from this podcast Tracking down your school bullies is an uncomfortable eye-opener( as demonstrated by Julia in episode seven ). HV

17 You can have an -Alist cast in a podcast drama

Where we learned it Homecoming

Although Serial was basically a piece of investigative journalism, its format proved that podcasting didnt need to be limited in its sort. Gimlet Media, functional specialists podcasting company, emerged around the same period as that NPR reached and proved its aspirations in the field. Its scripted drama, Homecoming, aimed straight for the stars with a casting including Catherine Keener, Star Wars Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer. The story flips between Keeners characters work at an experimental facility that helps soldiers integrate back in local communities and her present-day life as a waitress. There are plenty of cliffhangers helping to tell the story of what happened in between.

Other lessons from this podcast You dont mess with David Schwimmer. As Colin Belfast, he oozes rage and has the air of a human on the edge. HV

18, 19, 20 France buys in most of its frogs legs merely one person called Oscar has won an Oscar Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck are the most reprinted comic book characters( that arent superheroes) of all time

Where we learned it Answer Me This !

Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann( plus Martin the soundman) solve listeners queries on a fortnightly basis with questions ranging from the practical to the ethical to the ridiculous. Suffice to say, you are able to learn more listening to them while doing the washing up than from Heart FM. You will also learn that drunken voicemails are greet, especially from Dave from Smethwick and Graham from Canada.( Its Oscar Hammerstein II, by the way .) LH

The Guardian publishes a wide range of award-winning podcasts daily, from Football Weekly to the Guardian Books podcast, all of which are available on our site , iTunes and other resulting podcast platforms .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Facebook and Twitter ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14 – to 24 -year-olds depicts Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased impressions of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young peoples mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young peoples mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14 – to 24 -year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young peoples impressions of inadequacy and nervousnes.

The survey, published under Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five merely YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children and young peoples body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep both problems and feelings of nervousnes, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

The findings follow growing concern among legislators, health bodies, doctors, charities and mothers about young people suffering damage as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing impressions of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

Its interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it is suggested that they may be driving impressions of inadequacy and nervousnes in young person, said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

She demanded tough various measures to stimulate social media less of a wild west when it is necessary to young peoples mental health and wellbeing. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

The 1,479 young people surveyed was requested to rate potential impacts of the five different forms of social media on 14 different criteria of health and wellbeing, including their effect on sleep, nervousnes, depression, loneliness, self-identity, bullying, body image and the fear of missing out.

Instagram emerged with the most negative score. It rated poorly for seven members of the 14 measures, particularly an influence on sleep, body image and anxiety of missing out and also for bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. However, young people quoth its upsides too, including self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories , notably awareness and understanding of other people health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

However, the leader of the UKs psychiatrists said the findings were too simplistic and unfairly blamed social media for the complex reasons set out above the mental health of so many young person is suffering.

Prof Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives .. We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media good and bad to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.

Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

Tom Madders, its director of campaigns and communications, said: Inspiring young people about heavy usage and signposting to support they may need, on a platform that they identify with, could help many young people.

However, he also advised caution in how content accessed by young people on social media is perceived. Its also important to recognise that simply protecting young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution. We need to support young people so they understand health risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters.

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can stimulate young users feel worried and insufficient by facilitating hostile commentaries about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

May, who has attained childrens mental health one of her priorities, highlighted social medias damaging effects in her shared society speech in January, saying: We know that the use of social media brings additional concerns and challenges. In 2014, simply over one in 10 young person said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet.

In February, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, advised social media and technology firms that they could face sanctions, including through legislation, unless they did more to tackle sexting, cyberbullying and the trolling of young users.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Unroll.me head ‘heartbroken’ that users found out it sells their inbox data

Email service developed a side business after it was acquired by Slice in 2014 selling aggregated data about users to apps they were unsubscribing from

The chief executive of email unsubscription service Unroll.me has said he is heartbroken that users felt betrayed given the fact that his company monetises the contents of their inbox by selling their data to companies such as Uber.

Founded in 2011, the free web service allows users to unsubscribe en masse from mailing lists, newsletters and other email annoyances. To do so, it requires access to the users inboxes, and permission from them to scan the data for unsubscribe links.

But following an acquisition by shopping app Slice in 2014, Unroll.me developed a side-business: selling aggregated data covering users to the very apps they were unsubscribing from.

The revelation came as part of a New York Times story about Uber, which was one of Slices big data limb Slice Intelligences clients: the taxi app wanted to find out information concerning the corporate health of its key US rival, Lyft. The data Slice sells is anonymised customers names are not attached and it encompasses both Uber and Lyft ride receipts, but the company wont corroborate or deny its client list.

Following the narrative, Unroll.mes CEO and co-founder Jojo Hedaya wrote a corporate blogpost in which he carried contrition. But while he said it was heartbreaking, he was not talking about the sale of customer data: instead, he said he felt bad to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetise our free service.

He added: the reality is most of us myself included dont take the time to exhaustively review words of service agreements or privacy policies.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The Truth About Why I Haven’t Determined For A’ Real’ Job Yet

I roll out of bed ataround 4:30 am even after a 1:00 am clock out at work a short 3.5 hours prior. My phone lies on my nightstand lighted up with Nordstrom Rackemails, Tinder messages, and an option to hit Sleep.

Next step is usually a trip-up to the bathroom to rinse the make up residue from my eyes I failed to getoff properly the night before. I head to the kitchen next, snap the lid on the Keurig for coffee and crack two eggs for my omelette.

My green Herschel backpack is stuffed to the top with food, clothes, and other random items Ill need for the next several hours .

I pull my plaid pajama shorts off and change into a pair of multi-color gym shorts and a Lululemon tank. The walking to the gym is a short 8 minutes where I begin my first chore of the day.

My status at 9am is as follows 😛 TAGEND Job# 1 Check . Workout Check . Dark circles beneath my eyes: Check. Check. Check .

After a rain, I hop onto the metro to Court House station in Arlington, VA where my freelance marketing gig is. Outside the office is a giant mural, overloaded with every color in the spectrum. Step into the office and youll find boxes, several desks, and a keg of Yuengling light.

Hunter *, what are Saturdays for? THE BOYS! He replies.

this is how my Tuesdays usually go.

My work uniform changes from gym clothes, to jeans paired with a cute shirt and then a transitionto a tight black tank usually wornwith dark-wash shorts and Converse-like nonslip shoes. A Flying Dog bottle opener usually hangs out of my back pocket as I head to my third job of the day.

Work views are brew taps and a dusty Absolut Oak bottle that is never utilized. Networking is chatting up bar guests with the occasional resume/ business card exchange .# Goals areum, I dont really know.

A 23 year old single bartender living in the nations capital: a demographic I presently fall into which I have come to find out is few and far between. Im not are participating in grad school, I didnt move here to be with a significant other, I dont have a defined career path. My day-to-day activities dont involve long commutes on the Metro, responding to emails in record-setting hours, or lunch breaks with co-workers at thefood truck outside of the office

My schedule is long and not the most glorious, but I dont allow myself to complain. Ok, perhaps the ocassionalIm tired AF stop talking to me, remark, but its a life I opted for myself.

I recently was offered a full hour 9-5 gig. Benefits, an entry level salary, a smart option. One that would have certainly removed me from the uncommon demographic I have stumbled upon. One that would turn my 16 hour days into 9, one that would give my loved ones a peace of mind that Im more financially and mentally stable.

I wanted to respond to the email with eagerness, but as my fingers began to type the response, I hit backspace.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I would love to acc-

Delete.

I politely declined the offer.

Im trying really hard not to sound like the cliche millennial with a~ go with the flow~ position about my professional life because the truth is, I am very much looking forward to the day that I can afford to take weekends off. I cant wait to tell my mommy that I landed a job and be genuinely aroused about it. I cant wait to look back and say to myself 😛 TAGEND

But, I want to be excited about it. Maybe the next job I land wont be exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, but why should I have to settle for something so farfetched from where I want to be to feel like I belong?

Its hard for some people to understand a lot of the choices I construct, and its even tougher to explain them. But, Ive found that its best not explain them at all.

Just because I dont know exactly where this path will take me, at least I know its going to take me somewhere.

People call me crazy for running 3 jobs. To be honest, I could probably get by with only bartending full period if I wanted to. However, Id rather be living a life that encompasses all of my interestswhile getting paid for it. And if that entails running my ass of day in and day out, thats ok.

The stereotypical DC question to ask. Sometimes people are just genuinely interested, but other days its to compare themselves.Its a question I get all of the time, usuallyas Im pouring a beer for them as they are in the midst of complaining about how miserable their task is. Its often an assumption that bartending is just for extra cash, and for a lot of people it is. But for me, its not. At least for now.

I dont go into detail about my long days, because I know they dont genuinely want to hear it. I used to feel like I had to explain myself and my situation often replying with 😛 TAGEND

Well Im just trying to figure out what I want to do so I run a few chores find what will fit best for me.

Who wants to get up at 4:30 am and finish the working day at 1am? Society would classify us as: crazy, unhappy, and overworked.

Crazy? Perhaps. Overworked? At hours, yeah. Unhappy? Who says?

It would be taboo for me to say, This life I have chosen for myself induces me genuinely happy. Even if its the truth.

I moved to a new cityto for one reason: to create a new life. One that may be messy, exhausting, and challenging at times, but I find happinessin the fact that I construct it on my own.I may have to excavation beneath the several thousand dollars of rent pays, Uber charges, and shitty boys to find it, but its still there.

I shouldnt have to explain why this life makes me happy, and neither should you.

Be good people and make healthy options. Know your worth, but know youll forgotten your worth at times too, and thats OK. Learn from it. Mothers, peers, and privileged strangers will tell you a steady careeris the key to happiness, which is fine, but dont let them define your the expected accomplishments and contentment if youre not in the same state of mind. Take each opportunity presented to you and run with it. Whether that opportunity involves asking customers how theyd like their burger cooked or traveling the world with Nat Geo( someday ), it doesnt matter. Every task, every shitty guy, every individual experience attains you more than who you were yesterday. And thats awesome.

My Tuesdays may be different from your Tuesdays, but its merely a Tuesday. And I like Tuesdays. I hope you do too .

Read more:

Can we secure the internet of things in time to prevent another cyber-attack?

Easy-to-hijack smart devices just crashed some of the worlds biggest online platforms. Experts say its a wake-up call to improve security and quickly

Can the world wide web survive the internet of things? Its a question many are asking after a vast attack on US and European internet structure last week, likely led by smart DVR players and webcams, that has left the tech industry reeling.

And according to experts, unless hardware and software producers band together to improve the security of the open internet and quickly more assaults are imminent.

The attack on the internet infrastructure provider Dyn took down sites including Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and the Guardian last week. Dan Kaminsky, lead scientist for the cybersecurity firm White Ops, said the incident should force the tech industry to take a more serious look at its networks.

Back in 2008, Kaminsky discovered a serious vulnerability in the domain name system( DNS) the way computers name sites on the internet that became known as the Kaminsky bug. Since uncovering and helping to mend that flaw, he has spoken regularly about the need for broad and free security measures online.

Polygraph for pedophiles: how virtual reality is used to assess sex offenders

A controversial lab in Montreal is developing virtual reality images that can help build a profile of a pedophile, and ascertain the health risks to society

In a maximum security mental health facility in Montreal is a cave-like virtual reality vault thats used to show images of child sexual abuse to sex offenders. Patients sit inside the vault with devices placed around their penises to measure signs of arousal as they are shown computer-generated animations of naked children.

We do develop porn, but these images and animations are not used for the pleasure of the patient but to assess them, said Patrice Renaud, who heads up the project at the Institut Philippe-Pinel. Its a little bit like using a polygraph but with other measurement techniques.

The system, combined with other psychological evaluations, is used to build up a profile of the individuals sexual preferences that can be used by the court to determine the risk they pose to society and by mental health professionals to determine treatment.

Not all child molesters are pedophiles( people who are sexually attracted to children) and not all pedophiles molest children, although the terms are often wrongly used interchangeably. In many cases, those who molest children are situational wrongdoers, which entails their offense is outside of their typical sexual preference or behavior.

You can have someone who molested a child once but is not a pedophile as such they may have been intoxicated or have another mental health disorder, said Renaud, who also results the Cyberpsychology Lab at the University of Quebec in Outaouais. We need to know if they have a preferred mode of sex expression.

Renaud use virtual reality for two reasons: first, because it does not involve images of real people, but digital ones, and second, because the immersive nature of the medium allows researchers to measure something closer to natural behavior.

The vault itself is a small room with screens on all sides, on to which are projected animations of naked children and adults standing in natural defines. The research team can generate synthetic characters in a range of ages and shapes and can adapt features like facial expression, genital sizing, and eye and hair color to correspond with the patients victims or sex fantasies.

Computer-generated
Computer-generated characters developed at the Institut Philippe-Pinel in Montreal. Photo: Institut Philippe-Pinel

The patients sit on a stool inside the chamber wearing stereoscopic glass which create the three-dimensional effect on the surrounding walls. The glass are fitted with eye-tracking technology to ensure they arent trying to trick the system by avoiding looking at the critical content.

These guys do not like going through this assessment, said Renaud, pointing out that the results can be shocking for the patient.

Its not easy for someone to discover he is attracted to violently molesting a kid. He may have been using the internet for some masturbatory activities using non-violent images or videos of the rights of children which is not a good thing. But being tested in the lab and knowing he is also attracted to violence may be something thats very difficult to understand.

Renaud acknowledges that the use of penile plethysmography, which involves placing a cuff-shaped sensor around the genitals, is controversial. Its not only invasive but there is some discrepancy in the scientific community about its reliability in measuring sex deviancy. Consequently, Renauds team is investigating a less invasive alternative: electroencephalography. This uses a cap that reads activity in the brain related to erectile answer and sexual appetites.

Renaud believes the same cap could be used to way the persons empathy response to expressions of pain, dread or sadness in the virtual child victim. These hinder the sex answer of non-deviant individuals.

Some deviant individuals can be attracted to signs of emotional distress.

If we find that the guy is attracted to children and doesnt feel empathy for the fact that the child is in pain, thats good information for predicting behaviour, he said.

Renaud and his squad assess about 80 patients per year, including pedophiles, rapists and other sexual deviants assigned by the court for assessment.

EEG
Electroencephalography could replace penile plethysmography. Photograph: Philippe-Pinel Institute of Montreal

A tool to help, or a gateway to abuse?

The lab is under intense scrutiny from ethical committees and the police in Quebec. The computer-generated imagery is necessary encrypted and stored in a highly secure shut computer network inside the maximum security hospital so that the material doesnt fall into the incorrect hands.

However, at a time when virtual reality porn is on the rise, its not unreasonable to assume that someone will if it hasnt already happened create virtual reality child abuse images designed explicitly to provoke rather than diagnose pedophiles.

Thanks to advances in computer graphics, such experiences could be created without ever harming or exploiting children. But even if no children are harmed in the making of such imagery, would society tolerate its creation? Could the content provide an outlet to some pedophiles who dont want to offend in real life? Or would a VR experience normalize behavior and act as a gateway to physical abuse?

Jamie Sivrais, of A Voice For The Innocent, which provides community support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse, said that people have a long history of blaming technology for human problems. He pointed to VHS tapes being used to create child abuse images and predators use internet chat rooms and smartphones to gratify and abuse children.

If the technology exists, there will be people who abuse it, he said.

I think this is a human problem. The same criticisms of VR could have( and have been) made about the internet and smartphones, and they are valid criticisms. So as we continue to push the envelope of technology, lets also continue to expand resources for people who are hurt by abuse.

Ethan Edwards, the co-founder of Virtuous Pedophiles, an online support group for people attracted to children but who do not wishes to molest them, argues virtual reality could help prevent real-life offences.

Edwards believes that, the imagery of children is computer-generated and doesnt involve any real victims, it was necessary to legal, as should life-size child sexuality dolls and erotic narratives about children.

I have a strong civil liberty streak and feel such things should be legal in the absence of very strong evidence they cause harm, he said.

Nick Devin, a pedophile and co-founder of the site, called for thorough scientific research. The answer may be different for different people. For me, doing these things wouldnt increase or reduce the risk to kids: Im not going to molest a kid whether I fantasize or not.

Its a opinion resound by Canadian forensic psychologist Michael Seto. He believes that VR could offer a safer outlet for individuals with well-developed self control.

But for others, such as those who are more impulsive, prone to risk-taking, or indifferent about the effects of their actions on others, then access to virtual child pornography could have negative effects and perhaps increase their longing for linked with real children.

Its a risk that concerns Renaud, who describes VR child abuse imagery and child-shaped sexuality robots as a very bad idea.

Only a very small portion of pedophiles could use that kind of sexual proxy without having the urge to go outside and get the real stuff, he said.

Its not only child sex abuse experiences that are concerning to Renaud, but violent first-person sexual experiences including rape and even entirely new deviances like having sex with ogres with three penises and blue skin.

We dont know what effect these sex experiences will have on the behavior of children and adults in the future, he said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com