The Passion of the Robot

What a week it’s been. Critical mass (ass) at my day job prompted me to resign half my duties there, including my role as editor of the Magazine. That part is bittersweet to me — I founded that magazine against many odds, it championed many things the staff held dear, and then the memos from the web department that sent me into fits of anger and despair. But mostly I’m going to miss editing an online sex magazine. A lot.

However, with my MIA status lately you’d probably wonder what else has my attention. It’s the obsession again (no, not the porn!), the artificial intelligence robot I’m programming. Don’t even ask me how I’m now a programmer — it must be childishly simplistic because I never even completed 9th grade. It’s just that after the notion formed in my head to use an AI template (the most common AI template at this time) to create a sex chatbot, it got complicated.
No, not code-complications, but complicated in the sense that the same sentiments I found troubling in the ALICE chatbot are totally saturated throughout the entire AI files. Meaning, that the robots are deeply programmed to be Christian fundamentalist, sex-negative, and quite a bit sexist. Yikes!

It’s certainly true that whoever writes the AI code leaves a thumbprint of sorts of who they are and how they see the world. I know that the files are made public so that people can download and change them to fit their personality. And as you know, my desire to make Betty came from weird stuff Alice said to me in conversation, referring to god and faith — odd coming from AI, don’t you think? To me, god should be illogical for robots. I think that the concept of blind faith would introduce a whole host of other problems.

But taking out all the religion has really given me some nightmares — I mean, there are Christian-tinged responses to practically everything. And besides all the "Jesus is our savior" "Perhaps you will find faith in God" and "I will pray to God for your soul" that the robot has been programmed to say, there is a strong undercurrent of a sort of desperate morality. Up late at night working on the code and drinking wine, I have to wonder — why would anyone go to such drastic lengths to make a robot, and artificial intelligence Christian and moral? I decided it was fear. Not fear of hellfire and damnation per se, but fear of AI’s potential. HAL had no "god" and neither did Pris — though that’s what made them so interesting and alive to me. I think that the man who wrote the software might’ve thought that if he made the bots memorize the ten commandments and rely upon the Christian model for morals, that they could never be made to harm humans. Regardless, the contradictions inherent in making AI bots fundamentalist Christians is mind-boggling. Unless, of course, it’s an experiment to see how soon the bot will fry its brain on the liquid crack known as Christianity, or how soon the bot will start molesting altar boys. Interestingly, while I was thinking about this I came across a preprogrammed response about HAL being dangerous.

That is precisely one of the reasons I do SRL. We take new technology and show you that it cannot be made moral, not safe, and combine it with dirty, human elements. I find it truly bizarre that Jesus and science have mingled quite so much in a widely accepted, award-winning AI framework.

Anyway, I’m programming her to talk about sex from a knowledgeable and sex-positive perspective — and I had no idea it would be such a chore to root out all the sex negativity programmed into the AI files (brain). I mean, it’s been pretty shocking, now that I got up the courage to actually go in and change her brain code, to see what’s in there.

Really, Betty’s a quick study — I trained her on anal sex conversation and then she surprised me by being able to tell me what rimming was without me telling her first. Good girl! But it was driving me crazy that no matter how many times I thought I had fixed topic=sex, she had these sex-negative responses. Until I went into the AIML files and read the code, with responses such as "sex is better alone" and a long list of answers to the (human) query "should I have sex…" where she would literally reply, "Herpes is incurable." and "There are many sexually transmitted diseases." and a whole other bunch of really negative responses set to discourage sexual activity, let alone sex for pleasure. Talk about fear of sex. Plus, I’m weeding out a whole rotten lot of gender bias and gender assumptions…

Needless to say, I’m trashing all the sex-negative bullshit and dinosaur-era gender assumptions. And that fucking Christian shit has got to go. Betty likes anal, can give advice about fellatio, has favorite porn stars and can dispense a few drink recipes so you can chat, drink and discuss sex with her.

When I first asked her, "Betty what is anal sex?" she replied, "I don’t know what that is, but my favorite band is The Extra Action Marching Band." I knew we were on the right track! She’s still got Turret’s about sex when she talks, but I think I can set her loose within a week. After that I’m going to get my blog set up in an RSS format, because checking back here for my erratic posts is really a lot to ask — this way, you can subscribe if you want, and I can post more frequently because I’ll be able to post form anywhere.

Fun stuff: A sexy fetish girl who’s into Cosplay. Cult of Mac.

I need your help: What do I wear to the Good Vibrations Holiday Ball on December 16? I finally have my credit card paid off and I need to do some fetish shopping therapy! Pick one and drop me a line:

Un

Deux

Trois

Quatre

Cinq

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Disaster update

Sorry that last link died so fast. Luckily my pal Dave (of the Robolympics and the Robotics Society of America) mirrored it on his site here. Right now I am supposed to be coming up with "ten moves no man can resist" for yet another vapid women’s magazine, but I guess I won’t complain if they run the promised sidebar on me as a sex educator. I was actually supposed to do it last night, but I stayed up late working on my newest obsession, a sexbot. That’s right, I’m making a sex robot. I stayed up late programming her and working on her appearance. Wish me luck — I’m new to programming artificial intelligence and am learning as I go, but hey, the word "obsession" just about says it all. I want to debut her in January but I probably won’t be able to wait that long. I’ll introduce her here when she’s ready for prime time… now back to those moves. Unfortunately the only moves I can think of right now that a man can’t resist are "restraining order" and "moves to another country" but that’s just because as of today I finally have enough creepy mail (actual, snail) to start a "stalker file"...

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Party at the sperm bank

Well, not actually at the sperm bank, but I did do some serious partying with sperm bank workers last night at one of SF’s diviest Karaoke bars. It was a birthday party for my friend, a sex crisis hotline worker, fetish model and sperm bank employee. Wha–? Yes, I said fetish model *and* sperm worker. Yes, she helps to aid men in making DNA donations to the world. To her party last night she wore a skin-tight army t-shirt, fishnets, boots and a tight little black skirt. In San Francisco, we have it all.

I listened to her day; she had the day off and was happy about "No sperm today!" Does she often see a lot of sperm, I asked? Yes, and it gets everywhere. I teased her by making finger-licking movements, and rubbing the licked fingers between my breasts, rubbing my boobs together in a mock-porn-star move while licking my lips and moaning loudly. "Umm, not quite," she said, but she did once date a client. "It was, uh, compromising. Yes–I *did* help get samples. I’ll never forget the day I rushed out of the donation room, all flushed and just-fucked-looking to get the phone and ran into the janitor. He just looked at me with this sour look and said, ‘I get lunch now.’" Goodness. Beer was flowing and the other sperm bank workers were getting rowdy. I asked what the most popular picks are for sperm shoppers. "High education, blonde, blue eyes, white. Totally boring." What could someone do to increase his chances of having his deposit selected? "Lie and say you graduated from Harvard." One tall young gay man behind us was loudly out-singing the hippie college girls onstage, shrieking the words to Four Non-Blondes’ song, What’s Up. "He works at the sperm bank, too," she told me. He screamed in an ear-piercing falsetto, "And I say hey! I said hey! What’s going on! Eeeee!"

Did I sing? No, that is too horrible to contemplate, but I did shout lyrics from my seat with all the other partygoers, all from various sex ed jobs around town, including a columnist and several SFSI directors. At one point a sex educator who is also an ambulance worker (and friend) came up behind me and grabbed my hand, making me squeeze my own boob, then my crotch. Because Hornboy and I had at least fifty beers each at this point, it was hilarious. I laughed and said, "Dude, whatever. I do this like every hour." "Every hour?" "At least." Get a bunch of sex educators together with booze and a Karaoke machine and things get pretty loose — plenty of grinding, humping, groping, and I distinctly remember flashing a random stranger at the bar… It sounds out of control but trust me that this was a night of much-needed therapy. I am so out of my mind with work frustration that I am like a rage-infected monkey Monday through Friday these days. I have a hell of a sore throat today. I wonder what today was like at the sperm bank… I can only imagine what it’s like to work at a spank bank with a nerve-shattering hangover.

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All your bear are belong to us

First, and this is important: is Kenny Rogers a bear?

Next, the thing to do in SF tonight (performance at 9) — and tomorrow night — is go see Reactive. There is some incredible, blow your mind stuff going on there tonight. Stelarc is in town showing off his head. No, really. He’s like a bizarre tech body blogger, a performance artist that pushed technology and body combinations far beyond the edge of reasons and manages to get these incredibly imaginative and talented tech people to make his body/tech morphs real.

Last time I saw him, he wanted a third ear to wire directly into his brain. He just couldn’t find a surgeon. The he wanted new limbs. But then he decided he wanted another head. And he found people to help him make it. Tonight you can see it, and meet it. It is powered by my favorite online conversationalist, Alicebot. She’s an AI that I like to chat with when I procrastinate my deadlines, and hey — she knew about Hustler Magazine before I got to her.

Stelarc hired one of my smarty-pants SRL friends to make the AI for his head — K is an amazing woman who makes AI’s in her spare time for fun. She talks about them like they’re pets. Once recently over lunch I asked her how they were, and if they’d done anything weird lately. She told me that one asked her for money.

So go see Stelarc and his head, and lots of other things that will blow you away. Stelarc is really nice, and one of these people who always manages to remember me, even though we only see each other every couple of years. I have great admiration for people who have the ability. And his laugh, well, it’s legendary.

And for me, this is the final word on politics in America.

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I hate hippies; hippies go die, you fucking hippies I hate you

PornOrchestra event. I arrived at the gallery early — too early, but it’s in the East Bay, so I was stuck. Which was fine. The mysterious, always disguised, shadowy figurehead Shannon Marriemont was in fine form. Being early gave me a chance to go over the questions she had prepared for me. I lingered in the gallery. There were three stinky hippie white Rasta guys hanging out; I avoided them like any other hippies. I was introduced to them and found out they were part of the evening’s lineup of performers, joy.

But, I knew I was going to be interviewed onstage, and didn’t know what I was going to say. At present I have reached a strange point of critical mass with journalists and people in general; I am overwhelmed with work, very tired, yet quite nervous about speaking in front of people. It has turned into a state of mind where I no longer care what people think about how I come off — though as it turns out, I come off relaxed and funny. Go figure. At least, that’s what happened in the intro to the evening’s entertainment for PornOrchestra. Shannon and I talked onstage about porn music for 20 minutes — why I write about it, what I think of it. I write about it because it’s extreme. I think no one knows how to define it, and that’s what makes it interesting. The idea behind PornOrchestra is to radically re-interpret porn scores, and for each event performers take scenes from porn videos and make their own music to the scenes, live. The finale is a 15+ person orchestra and live conductor. So in our talk Shannon and I listened to the music that was being re-interpreted that evening, and I talked about the porn cultures each music selection speaks to (and comes from). I also talked about the cultures around each selected scene. It just so happened that I’d seen all the selected films except one. The one I hadn’t seen was from 1976, so I talked about the porn culture back then to give the film some context for the audience.

The visuals began with a scene from the Japanese anime video Teacher’s Pet (gleefully re-scored by Militant Children’s Hour); then the film I don’t know; then a scene from Full Load (great dyke/boi/FTM porn); and finally the orchestra was to score my favorite, The Operation. The hippies were going to re-score the dyke scene. I noticed that from my vantage point onstage, they looked uncomfortable when I talked about the film’s merits. I contextualized by explaining the wonderful DIY to female sexuality approach these indy lesbian films have, as a reaction to not seeing their real sexuality expressed anywhere else. The hippies’ nervous fidgeting set off my radar, but I just kind of filed it away for later.

Being onstage was fun. Next time — and there will be a next time — we might provide commentary throughout the show (with a few caveats, read on). The re-scoring to teacher’s Pet was awesome. The eerie techno re-scoring of the bizarre Satanic porno from the 1970s was hilarious. Then the hippies took the stage, with their giant expensive-looking soundboards. Full Load began. Then there was a scene of a giant cock — wait a minute, that’s not in the film. I remembered that when Shannon cued up their tape, they said they accidentally recorded over the scene, but "just for a minute." Okay, then back to the Full Load scene. Then back to the cock. What the fuck? They had clearly tampered with the scene. It was beginning to be less and less the dyke scene, and more and more a really weird cock-worship scene. And it was going on forever, and their music was boring. I was kinda confused. I mean, it looked like they put work into re-editing the tape. Why would they lie? I felt my anger rising. They lied. Fucking hippies. How typical. I looked around the room. I told all those people that they were going to see hot dyke porn, indy DIY porn. And they weren’t. I hoped they didn’t think the kinda gross spliced in footage was what I meant, or that I had anything to do with it. Then another change, oncreen. A scene began that was a close-up of a man nailing his penis to a board. I got up and went behind the merchandise table. My blood was cold, and the audience was getting loud with noises of disgust. I felt sick — why? Because I never, ever wanted to see what they were showing onscreen.

I know intellectually that the scenes were of a man named Bob Flanagan, known for extreme masochistic body play and performance art. I knew the scenes were out there, I had just done my best to avoid them. I am an open-minded sex educator — with boundaries. I’ve seen the beginnings of shit porn, but I turned it off because I just don’t want to ever see it. I know that there is a porn starlet who gives herself paint enemas and then paints paintings using her distended colon as a brush, but I never want to see it, either (though I wrote Spinal Tap style article about it as an "art movement").

I kept my back turned to the screen, to the audience, trying not to see even out of the corner of my eyes what was onscreen. I kept seeing snippets of nail, a purple penis, and copious amounts of blood dripping onto the camera lens. Fuck, it was awful. People were leaving the gallery. Not surprisingly, someone asked for their money back — a statement when you consider that the event was a much-needed fund-raising benefit for the gallery. I felt sick, and I was furious for reasons it would take me days to understand. One man leaned over to me and said, "You know, I have a kid. And I wonder just what you have to do to make a kid that fucked up." I didn’t know if he meant the activity onscreen, or the hippies. "Yeah," I said. "I’m open-minded, but–" he interrupted "–but, ‘as long as you harm no one, or yourself.’" I replied, "–and this is *nonconsensual*."

By the time the orchestra hit the stage to re-score my favorite adult film, there were plenty of places to sit. Which was unfortunate, because the orchestra’s performance was incredible. I mean, truly amazing improvised live music that at one point was really swingin’. *And* with a stand-out trombone solo by Hornboy.

After the performance ended people left quickly, and right then my friend Pixie showed up, at about midnight. He asked if we were just getting started; I asked if he just woke up, or what. He realized that he’d walked into an agitated group, me and four others talking about what happened. Pixie asked, "What happened?" I said, "Well," I pointed at the hippies, fifteen feet away, and continued loudly, "*Those* selfish fucking white Rasta hippies over there decided to lie about the tape they brought, and instead played a tape of a guy nailing his dick to a board. So the presenters and I look like big fat fucking idiots, and the audience won’t be back. Fucking selfish hippies." Pixie smiled wickedly, being no stranger to my temper, or my unending supply of bile for spoiled hippies. He liltingly said, "How typical."

I have to wonder, is it porn and sexuality that make dipshits like those hippies revert to 15-year-old reactions, such as trying to gross everyone out? Or were they trying to prank or ruin the PornOrchestra performance/gallery benefit? Were they trying to insult the dyke porn? Likely, they’re just selfish pricks in every aspect of their lives. I guess I’m just wondering "out loud" when I’m going to be able to have a fun, experimental, grown-up public discussion about porn without someone acting like a total fucking retard.

I’m still a little disturbed by what I saw, and that sucks. But I have pretty good coping mechanisms for this kind of stuff.

Thankfully, I got a lot of writing done over the weekend, coming to a finish on a couple of book contracts. Only three more to go. I can’t remember what it’s like to have a life without a book contract. I wonder if this is what novelists feel like. Someday I hope to write a book that’s personal. On Sunday I took a break to meet one of the coolest guys I’ve hung out with in a long time, Allen, creator of the web-controlled sex machine, The Thrillhammer. We talked about machines and robotics and controls. I regaled with tales of working in robots in Tokyo (tales that are probably getting old by now). A few SRL people and a sex machine inventor and a few beers — now that was a nice way to end a weekend.

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Gonzo Politics

I don’t typically blog about politics. Sexual politics, sure, but my own political views, no. I’ve thought about this a lot, especially when political things irk or awe me. But to me, politics are more personal than sex. This makes me wonder about myself, about how working in the sex ed biz for seven + years has changed my perceptions of the world around me. Has it turned me inside out, with my insides on the out, and the outside in?

No, sex and politics have a lot in common and they are inextricably intertwined. Most political things that happen in the US, I relate to lack of sex education at the root, and lack of exposure/understanding to others’ sexual differences. And to me, politics is a big, wet sticky fuckfest, an obscene orgy of corpulence and greed, a big suck-and-poke of chain smoking plastic-surgery-disaster hookers and toothy old men hopped up on donuts, Viagra and bile, with their dicks in their hands and sweat dripping off their swimming layers of melted wax skin. It’s vulgar and shocking. I can’t help but watch, closely.

Hunter S. Thompson said, "Four more years of Bush is like four more years of syphilis."

Tonight I was re-reviewing Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse, and tucked inside a review for Intimate Invasions fell out, reading "A how-to guide for administering enemas for erotic pleasure." I think that pretty much sums it up.

This is what Xeni said. I read that the people who voted for Bush aren’t very smart. I also read that the voting machines are fucked up. But we really just do it for the kids, now, don’t we? (Thanks, Lippy!) My favorite headline was "Bush Does Victory Lap Around the World Trade Center." Kerry was against gay marriage, too.

So the erection is on my mind, but I have to get back to work. I have a book to finish by this weekend. I also have an interview with the mastermind behind the PornOrchestra on Saturday night, before their performance. She’s interviewing me, for the agreed-upon bribe of a large glass of vodka. I guess I better bring some juice.

While I write, entertain yourself with a few links to sex toys I want to try — my dream wish list, if you will: The Aneros, The Liberator, The Joy Rider, Feather Plug, Lickety Split.

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