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Photograph: Teri Pengilley, The Guardian UK

David Levy; Photograph: Teri Pengilley, The Guardian UK

There’s nothing more exciting than combining sex and intelligence, and this story promises them both. David Levy, who is known for his pioneering work on Artificial Intelligence, first in relation to chess programs and now in conversational programs, is apparently now interested in expanding his scope to sex robots. I need to meet this man.

Having sex with robots is, from a public health perspective, a very low-risk activity. Yes, robots can get viruses, but these aren’t transferable and only cause health risks to humans when it leads their robot companions to take over the world.

Plus, these robots are charming. Take a look at this excerpt from a conversation between a human and a program that Levy designed:

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condom_dressWe all know that you’re not allowed to reuse our old condoms, right? But what a waste of perfectly good latex, just going into the landfills… why throw them away when you can turn them into condom fashion?

OK, I hope you know that I’m kidding. I’m sure that these outfits were made from new condoms… because no one likes having potential biohazards on their evening gowns (I’ll refrain from making a Monica joke here…). I also realize that this fashion show took place over two years ago; but some of the dresses are so cool that I couldn’t resist posting it now. I wonder what they could create if they threw some female condoms in the mix!

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Recently, I found myself in Riga attending a EuroNGOs meeting, discussing “Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Times of Economic Crisis.” As the title makes it sound, it was by and large a pretty serious meeting, with a focus on making economic arguments for the kind of work we do.

But, knowing the people working in this field, we can’t be all work and no play. So they arranged a dinner for the conference participants – an opportunity for us to experience Latvian hospitality. All was proceeding as expected for most of the meal – we ate too much food, sampled delicious Latvian beer, enjoyed pleasant conversations. But then, out comes a group of Latvian dancers and musicians. While we unfortunately do not have video of Wendy’s folk dancing performance, another interesting feature of Latvian society was documented:

Latvian_phallusThis lovely creation (that’s two onions and a carrot…) was apparently used in the bawdy fertility songs in Latvia’s more pagan times. It was supposed to come with a string, enabling the user to “strap it on” (see me demonstrating, after the jump).

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Sexuality ConferenceIf you’re like us, you may find that from time to time you’re running a little behind schedule. In case you were hoping to submit an abstract for the 4th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights – which has two abstract topic tracks relating to pleasure – you will be happy to know that they’ve extended the deadline!

Abstracts are now due by October 19, 2009. You can read the abstract submission guidelines here (pdf) and submit your abstract using the online form.

Hopefully I’ll see you in February in Addis!

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IUSSPI have to apologize for the paucity of blog posts this week – I’ve been attending the IUSSP International Population Conference. While there is lots of talk of sex, and one might argue that, in fact, sex is one of the key factors influencing population (haha), the act of sex, desires, pleasures, and the like have had scant mention.

On the other hand, euphemisms for sex abound. I was at a presentation earlier in which “coital dilution” was discussed. Coital dilution? Let’s consult the dictionary: sexual intercourse + adding a solvent to lower concentration. What on earth could they have been talking about? In fact, the presenter was referring to the fact that in polygynous relationships, a wife will have sex less, on average, than in a monogamous relationship. The hypothesis was that the man would have the same frequency of sex, whether monogamous or polygynous, only the sex would be spread, or diluted, between the wives. (Maybe “diffusion” would be a better term?) Hm.

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Filament magazine's first (contested) issue

Cover of Filament mags first issue

A UK publisher ran into roadblocks recently trying to make a mainstream erotic magazine for women with pics of actual naked men in actual states of arousal. Filament magazine claims printers won’t print the mag for fear of the wrath of “the women’s/religious sectors”.

Are erect penises actually dirtier than women’s body parts? Are women too frail to handle pictures of erect penises when, in fact, they were just stopping by the newsstand for a carton of milk? Or are women simply not interested in ogling men’s bodies?

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