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This head of a serial-killing bandit has been preserved in a jar since 1841
05.19.2017
09:36 am
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This is the head of Diogo Alves. Don’t be fooled by his seemingly placid, almost benign, yet surprised look. Diogo was a robber and a brutal serial killer who murdered some seventy people between 1836 and 1839, at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres (Aqueduct of Free Waters) over the Alcântara valley in Portugal. Diogo robbed his victims then tossed their bodies over the side of the 213-foot high aqueduct. At first, the local police thought this rather staggering number of inexplicable deaths were copycat suicides. When access to the aqueduct was closed to prevent any more “suicides,” Diogo formed a gang and turned his attention to the homes of the valley’s population. After a raid on the house of a local doctor, where Diogo murdered four of the people inside, he was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging in February 1841.

His execution coincided with the rise of the bogus science of phrenology. It was suggested by physicians that Diogo’s head be preserved in formaldehyde for examination in order to determine whether there were any signs or abnormalities in the shape of his skull that could explain why he committed such terrible crimes. This may seem utterly fantastic today, but it’s worth noting that the scientific desire to find some physical cause for behavior is not new. As recently as just after the Second World War, American scientists obtained sections of the brain removed from the skull of executed Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. This gray matter was examined in a bid to ascertain whether there was any physical cause to Il Duce’s anti-Semitic and racist beliefs.

Diogo’s well-preserved head still remains in a glass jar at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medicine.

See more pictures of Diogo’s head and the aqueduct where he committed his crimes here.
 
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A portrait of Diogo Alves from 1840.
 
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Photo: Rafaela Ferraz.
 
See more pictures of Diogo Alves’ head, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.19.2017
09:36 am
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Drawings of ‘mental illnesses’ from 1840

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“Female patient suffering from erotomania, 1843.”

Science is a bit like Doubting Thomas—it has to see the evidence before believing it. And sometimes even then it is just theories about what was or was not seen.

Way back in the early 1800s, many scientists thought it an idea to use visual representation, through illustrations and engraving, to help codify the system of identifying say, organs, bones, types of disease, and even mental illness. For example, a drawing of someone suffering from buboes caused by the pox would help diagnose a patient with similar buboes also caused by the pox. It was a logical, well-intended, and noble idea, one that helped create the many books on anatomy and disease which progressed the development of medicine from the 1700s on—most notably Gray’s Anatomy in 1858.

The physician and alienist, Sir Alexander Morison (1779—1866) pioneered the documentation of psychiatric illness during the early to mid-1800s. An “alienist” is the archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist. Morrison was inspecting physician at the Surrey Asylum and Bethlehem Hospital. He excelled in the diagnosis and treatment of those poor unfortunate people who suffered from mental illness. He was a wise and kindly old gent, who wrote two texts of great importance on psychiatric illness—Outlines of Lectures on Mental Diseases (1826), and Cases of Mental Disease, with Practical Observations on the Medical Treatment (1828). But these were but a warm-up for his illustrated volume The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases in 1840.

The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases contained descriptions of the various types of mental illness, case studies of various patients from a selection of England’s psychiatric hospitals, and some possible treatments. At the time, psychiatric care was going through a much-needed overhaul, with patients being treated as suffering from a (possibly) curable disease rather than being written-off as possessed by demons or just too fucked-up to no longer defined as human and dumped in bedlam where they were often exhibited to the amusement of the paying public. Morrison devised (whether by himself or in collaboration is unclear) the idea of illustrating his book on The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases with a series of portrait engravings of the patients whose case studies he was describing. It was a very useful idea.

However, it does suggest that mental illness can always be identified through a patient’s facial expressions—as if there are certain universal physical attributes that define all types of mental illness. Moreover, such drawings were open to possible caricature with artists exaggerating certain facial tics or expressions which may or may not be relevant. Morrison’s approach was valued until the 1850s, when the photograph was deemed to be the more scientific and reliable choice for documenting mental illness by his successor at the Surrey Asylum, the physician and pioneering photographer Hugh Welch Diamond.
 
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Portrait of 20-year-old female mental patient.

 
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More engravings from ‘The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.15.2017
11:51 am
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Horrifyingly detailed images of surgical procedures from the early 1800s


‘Strabismus’ 1831. From The Complete Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery by Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery. Illustration by Nicholas Henri Jacob.
 
Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery began what would equate to his life’s work, Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire or The Complete Treatise or the Anatomy of Man Including Operative Medicine in 1830. A series of eight books in total, Bourgery would complete the final publication just before he died in 1849. The massive 2108-page work would finally be published in its entirety in 1853.

Though the book would not have been possible without Bourgery’s deep knowledge of surgical technique and the inner-workings of the human body, it is the color lithographs by artist Nicholas Henri Jacob, a protegee of famed French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David, that make the publication truly remarkable. Jacob took on the task of creating lithographs that visually depicted medical scenarios such as the surgical removal of a rifle bullet, to horrifyingly detailed images of other kinds of surgical correction performed on the genitalia or eyes.

The lithographs, 726 in all, are startlingly beautiful and to this day Bourgery’s work along with Jacob’s realistic artistic interpretations is still considered to be one of the greatest contributions to the medical world where it was often utilized by the medical community as well as by artists that incorporate aspects of anatomy into their own work. In 2005 Taschen released a 714-page version of the book with the help of two French anatomy professors, Jean-Marie Le Minor and Henri Sick, both of the Louis Pasteur University of Strasbourg. I’ve posted a large selection of Jacob’s work below—all of which are NSFW in one way or another.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.08.2017
01:17 pm
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Cracking the P.Y.T. code: New technology reveals hidden lyrics in Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit single
04.27.2017
09:32 am
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35 years after its release Thriller remains the best-selling album of the millennium. After a lifetime of repeated listening, the record’s sixth single “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (produced by Quincy Jones and co-written with James Ingram) has definitely emerged as my favorite track. It’s unclear why Jackson never performed the song live, but it remains a fan favorite from its immediately catchy funk/pop synthesized bassline to the fun “call-and-response” vocals between Michael and his sisters. Janet and LaToya who sing back-up on the “repeat after me and sing na na na” breakdown make it nearly impossible not to sing along every time you hear it on the radio. However, my favorite part of the song has always been the high-pitched “chipmunk vocals” that only arrive during the song’s outro. After all, who didn’t get a kick out of playing 33rpm records at 45rpm as a kid? But even when Kanye West sampled the outro, slowed it down, and looped it as the basis of his 2007 single “Good Life,” I was still left wondering after all these years, what the hell are those chipmunk vocals singing exactly?

A few years ago, Los Angeles-based music copyright specialist Drew Seventeen used a program called Audacity to pitch-shift the “P.Y.T.” vocals using “stems” (isolated pieces of a multitrack recording) that are intermittently available on the internet. Drew explained his project via e-mail:

“‘Good Life’ by Kanye West featuring T-Pain (heavily sampling that section) is actually my iPhone morning alarm song. So after hearing the voice hundreds of times in the dream-wakefulness transition, I became obsessed with knowing what the actual lyric was. I assumed the ‘tee’ and ‘see’ were chopped off in the final mix due to timing limits on early sampling technology, but the exposed stem also makes it clear that he just hits a lower note there which becomes unclear in the master recording.”

The results of Drew’s efforts can be heard here:
 

 

“I wanna love, you P.Y.T.
I wanna give, you T.L.C.”

Not only are the hidden lyrics of “P.Y.T.” revealed for the first time (clearly sung by Michael himself), but as an added bonus we can hear these lyrics are divided up by a “kiss” which gets buried in the actual studio mix of the track. 

More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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04.27.2017
09:32 am
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Visual Futurist: Step inside the sci-fi world created by ‘Blade Runner’ visionary Syd Mead
04.26.2017
09:28 am
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A depiction of Los Angeles in 2019 by Syd Mead for ‘Blade Runner.’
 
Artist Syd Mead is probably best known for his work for the 1982 film Blade Runner, though his vast contributions to cinema can be seen in other groundbreaking works such as Aliens (1986), TRON (1982), and 2013’s Elysium which was directed by Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp had a life-long obsession with Mead and his artwork which was what led him to engage the services of the then 80-year-old artist to design the sets for his futuristic film.

Mead’s background in industrial design is clear and present in his paintings. During the 1970s his artistic services were highly sought-after and widely respected within the companies and industries he spent time working for such as Ford and Phillips Electronics, illustrating catalogs and other types of publications. Mead also worked closely with elite members of the architectural design world including large hotel chains and other high-end establishments. His relentlessly busy schedule led him to move his base of operations to Los Angeles where he quickly found himself working as an artist for the motion picture industry in the late 70s. Though Blade Runner would not be the first Hollywood film that Mead would lend his visionary talent to, it can’t be disputed that his work on the film left an indelible imprint on the minds of filmmakers and cinephiles around the world, who adopted Mead’s grungy vision of what the year 2019 looked like, and other aspects of Blade Runner’s‘s essence in their work, like the hardwired goths from The Matrix, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.
 

A sketch of a uniform from ‘TRON’ by Syd Mead.
 
After meeting with director Ridley Scott to discuss the film (which at the time was going by the working title of Dangerous Days) Mead recalls that Scott told him that his intention was to create the framework for a noir film around its science fiction premise. To help drive his point home Scott used Michael Anderson’s 1972 film Logan’s Run as an example of the “slick and clean” presentation of more conventional cinematic sci-fi, opting instead for more of a bad-side-of-town feeling, pulsating in neon lights and depravity. Ridley Scott quite literally gave Syd Mead the job of creating 2019 Los Angeles for Blade Runner using his own conceptual ideas. During the process, Mead incorporated elements and influences from his travels around the world. Some of the vehicles in the film are based on autos from Cuba or the colorful “jitneys” (also known as “Jeepneys”) that serve as public transportation all around the Philippines. Architecturally, the future city of Los Angeles was based on a combination of Chicago and New York, and Mead’s work in Blade Runner continues to not only inspire filmmakers but also architects and a style that the artist referred to as “retro deco,” or “trash chic.”

Though I’ve only really scratched the surface when it comes to Syd Mead, I’m hoping it was more than enough to pique your interest in the impossibly cool artist. If that’s the case there are many publications based on Mead’s life and his long line of accomplishments. Perhaps the most lust-worthy is the forthcoming The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist which is set for release in September. The 256-page book is the largest and most comprehensive take on Mead’s career yet, including some never-before-seen works.

Mead is very much a living legend who deserves every bit of praise his fans give him and more.
 

‘TRON.’
 

Another conceptual work by Mead for ‘TRON.’
 
More Mead after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.26.2017
09:28 am
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Martian chronicles: Fantastic covers for UFO comics of the 1960s & 70s

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Little green men ain’t what they used to be. We don’t need Sean Spicer to confirm that aliens have already landed and have squeezed their scaly green asses into government. Hell, they don’t even have to fire their ray guns to let us know their intentions are hostile. They’ve taken over and not a shot was fired.

Once upon a time, this kind of speculative alien invasion was the prime cut of science-fiction comics like UFO Flying Saucers. First published by Gold Key in 1968, UFO Flying Saucers evolved into UFO & Outer Space before ceasing publication in 1977.

During its just over a decade run, UFO Flying Saucers did ask all the right questions like “Do alien explorers hold earthlings in their grip?” and “Is Earth their laboratory? Are we their specimens?” Some might say, in light of recent events across the world, the answers are kinda obvious now. And worryingly these flying saucers might not just be in charge of one government—looks like they’ve got a whole deck of countries to play with.

Stephen Hawking once wisely pointed out that if alien intelligence ever read the messages we pump out into space then we should be careful as these extraterrestrials may be hostile and not “see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.” These UFO comics were way ahead of you there, Stephen.

Recently, scientists at the Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) confirmed “mystery bursts of radio waves that astronomers have hunted for ten years really do come from outer space.”

These Fast Radio Bursts are intense pulses of radio light that last for only milliseconds and come from way, way out in the outer reaches of space. These pulses were first discovered over ten years ago and are “about a billion times more luminous than anything we have ever seen in our own Milky Way galaxy.”

At first, they were thought to be interference. Now, it seems these pulses are some kind of transmission. ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Matthew Bailes has suggested the signals may (“bizarrely”) be “alien transmissions.”

If they are. Well, we know what to expect. If not, a refresher course of the covers to Gold Key’s UFO Flying Saucers and UFO & Outer Space might supply some useful answers.
 
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More fabulous covers from UFO Flying Saucers and UFO & Outer Space, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.12.2017
11:50 am
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AI ‘on acid’ fucks with classic Bob Ross footage; everybody wins


 
For many of us, Bob Ross’ PBS show The Joy of Painting was an endlessly enjoyable random staple of the TV programming of our youth. Did anyone under the age of 57 ever actually seek out Bob Ross on TV? No, for me anyway, it was always encountered accidentally, this odd hippie with a paintbrush that was unlike everything else on the idiot box. As Patton Oswalt once observed, Ross was a Quaalude version of his predecessor and mentor on PBS, the more intense German émigré William Alexander.

A man named Alexander Reben has created the ultimate psychedelic Bob Ross artifact. It’s called Deeply Artificial Trees. According to Reben, “This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD.”

There’s more, but I didn’t continue reading. I had all the information I needed.
 

 
via The Daily Dot
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.07.2017
01:03 pm
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‘Perpetual Pills,’ the reusable laxatives of the Middle Ages
04.07.2017
06:10 am
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Not really antimony, but silvered pills, via Marieke Hendriksen
 
The story of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun is interesting enough—it’s the basis for Ken Russell’s The Devils, hardly a dull movie. Yet the book is full of entertaining digressions, such as a lengthy parenthesis on the medical uses of antimony:

Certain compounds of antimony are specific in the treatment of the tropical disease known as kala-azar. In most other conditions, the use of the metal or its compounds is hardly worth the risks involved. Medically speaking, there was no justification for such indiscriminate use as was made of the drug during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From the economic point of view, however, the justification was ample. [Loudun pharmacist] M. Adam and his fellow apothecaries sold Perpetual Pills of metallic antimony. These were swallowed, irritated the mucous membrane as they passed through the intestine, thus acting as a purgative, and could be recovered from the chamber pot, washed and used again, indefinitely. After the first capital outlay, there was no further need for spending money on cathartics. [Antimony-as-medicine opponent] Dr. Patin might fulminate and the Parlement forbid; but for the costive French bourgeois, the appeal of antimony was irresistible. Perpetual Pills were treated as heirlooms and after passing through one generation were passed on to the next.

If you coveted grandma’s Perpetual Pill, you might not have had to wait too long to get your hands into her chamber pot, because another result of taking antimony is death. Some researchers believe that Mozart died as a result of his “treatment” with antimony. Its reputation as a wonder drug coexisted uneasily with its reputation as a lethal poison. No matter how great the savings passed on to you, the consumer, in the little metal pill that lasts forever, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and one of its forms is agonizing death. Around the time of the Enlightenment, history’s real “greatest generation” stopped fishing Perpetual Pills out of their toilets.
 

An apothecary jar containing antimony, via Phisick
 
Nature reports: “A more refined alternative, generally used in the 1600s after the pellets were outlawed, was to drink wine that had been left standing in an antimony cup overnight.” But the English translation of Pierre Pomet’s Complete History of Drugs, published in 1748, contained some DIY advice for the unregenerate Perpetual Pill-seeker in the chapter “Of Regulus of Antimony with Mars or Iron” (“made of Antimony, Salt-petre, and Points of Horse-nails, or small Nails melted together”):

Whereas most People who have Occasion for the Goblets or Cups of the Regulus, find difficulty to come by them, let them apply to a Founder, and they may have what Sorts and Sizes they will, at a cheap Rate, without troubling themselves with Moulds, as several have done to their Labour and Cost, who have at last been obliged to give over the Attempt, not being able to make one Cup without a Hole, or some other Defect. You may also get these same Founders to make you the perpetual Pills, or you may easily make them yourself with a Musket-ball Mould.

The Pills serve for those that have the Twisting of the Guts, or Miserere mei, so called. When they are returned from out of the Body, it is but washing and cleaning them again, and they will serve as oft as you please; which gives them the name of Perpetual.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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04.07.2017
06:10 am
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You can own Marilyn Monroe’s pelvic x-ray because nothing is too creepy for a true fan
04.07.2017
05:57 am
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I was a little squicked out when the auction of locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair was announced last year, so this is just straight up weirding me out.

The same auction house, the legendary Julien’s (“THE AUCTION HOUSE TO THE STARS!”) has announced its latest in a series of Hollywood Legends auctions. this one featuring loads of property from the estate of Patrick Swayze. Especially, um, devoted fans can bid on his hockey uniform from Youngblood which, yes, includes athletic supporters, and on his banana hammock from Keeping Mum.
 

A still from Keeping Mum. Before you go drawing any conclusions just based on that, Rowan Atkinson and Dame Maggie Smith were in the film, too.

In addition, as seems to be the case with practically every celebrity auction they do, there’s a passel of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, much of which is pretty run-of-the-mill, until you get to her chest and pelvic x-rays.
 

 

 

 

 

A Marilyn Monroe pelvic X-ray dated November 9, 1954. Information ghost printed in the upper right of the X-ray reads “Cedars of Lebanon Hospital/Drs. E. Freedman and S. Finck/ Name Di Maggio, Mrs. Marilyn/ No. 50612 Date 11-9-54/ Ref. By Dr. L. Krohn.” Dr. Leon Krohn was Monroe’s gynecologist.

17 by 14 inches

The provenance is interesting—“As a radiology resident at Cedars, a young doctor obtained this X-ray and one other, of Monroe’s pelvis. When he taught students, he used these X-rays to ensure that they were paying attention.“ OK, actually pretty funny, but I’d prefer not to speculate on why else someone would collect something like this. Images of Monroe’s chest have been around since 1947, though this is another level of exposure beyond mere toplessness. As for Ms. Monroe’s pelvis, that remained a bit more demure. But as I’m neither a woman nor a doctor, I’m out of the loop on gynecological techniques and instruments, and so I’m in the dark as to what exactly the apparent device is in the x-ray. Are we seeing an IUD insertion here? (Asking for a friend.)

Anyway, the auction takes place on April 28th. If you’re going to bid on these Monroe items, good luck to you, I guess, and please keep your reasons to yourself.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.07.2017
05:57 am
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A startling number of iPhone users want to fuck Siri
04.06.2017
10:17 am
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In 2013 Spike Jonze released a daring and fascinating movie called Her, set in an indeterminate future in which Theodore Twombly, ably played by Joaquin Phoenix, falls in love with the operating system on his phone, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who goes by the name Samantha.

According to recent research undertaken by Mindshare and J. Walter Thompson, a surprising number of smartphone users fantasize about just such a relationship. The report, which is titled “Speak Easy: The Future Answers to You” (does it?), covers a wide array of research into user attitudes about speech recognition and natural language processing with a focus on voice hardware products such as the Amazon Echo.

In a section called “Craving Intimacy,” the report looks at the desire of users to have a “deeper connection” with their “voice assistants.” A majority of users (60%) understandably affirmed that vastly improved comprehension on the part of the devices would greatly increase the propensity to use it.


 
This rapidly becomes a tricky area, the report’s authors point out, because as the abilities of the voice assistants and the integration of services increase, the potential for fraud or abuse also increases dramatically, which means that the services require a significant degree of trust—and trust is an inherently emotional aspect of human life that also requires a willingness to be vulnerable. As one focus group member said, “You can build trust by, hopefully, making sure no one’s ripped off while giving them access to do amazing things.”

Is it any wonder, then, that some users have started to fantasize about a sexual relationship with Siri or Alexa? Not surprisingly, according to neuroscience experiments discussed in the report, “the emotional response to voice assistants is considerably lower than for both a face-to-face human interaction and a touch or text interface,” which is chalked up to the “rudimentary personalities” of Alexa or Siri, but users’ comfort level with their assistants increased with the benefit of further exposure and familiarity with them.

And where familiarity and comfort go, intimacy and sex cannot be far behind:
 

Over a third (37%) of regular voice technology users say that they love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person. Even more astonishing is that more than a quarter of regular voice technology users say they have had a sexual fantasy about their voice assistant.

 
To be precise, “26% of regular voice tech users say they have had a sexual fantasy about their voice assistant.”

In October, the Telegraph reported that personal voice assistants were frequently being used by “some men” who wanted to “talk dirty.” Ilya Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, a company in the UK, noted that the behavior was seen most often in “teenagers and truckers without girlfriends”:
 

This happens because people are lonely and bored…. It is a symptom of our society. As well as the people who want to talk dirty, there are men who want a deeper sort of relationship or companionship.

 
Eckstein also stated that such people “want to flirt, they want to dream about a subservient girlfriend, or even a sexual slave.”

A woman tasked with working on that Microsoft’s Cortana product has said that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” addressed the voice assistant’s sex life. 
 
via Dazed
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.06.2017
10:17 am
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