December 19th, 2007

I get the feeling nobody–including me–really sees the “In the News” links that run at the bottom of Heroine Sheik. So I’m trying something new, the hand-made equivalent of weekly what-I-put-on-Del.icio.us posts, minus the Del.icio.us. Anyways, here are some links to cool articles I’ve come across lately. They’re not worth whole, big spiels, but I think you’d enjoy them:

-Lesbian Gamers takes on the question of the male gaze. Are lesbians characters in games like Mass Effect a positive, equalizing force in the medium, or are they just eye candy for men? Also check out Heroine Sheik’s own musings on turning the male gaze on its head and ogling hot men in Castlevania.

-Chris Dahlen at Gamasutra has a piece justifying why he gave into the (apparently not so hot) aforementioned lesbian sex in Mass Effect. “It just happened,” he swears, expressing his lackluster feelings for the game along with lackluster feelings for naked blue females. “I didn’t get this game, choose that character and follow all those options just so I could say that I became a lesbian dad in space.”

-Regina Lynn giggles over robots who flirt with unsuspecting internet users–then take advantage of their squishy human emotions to get a hold of personal information. Okay, that’s no good. Still, it sounds more fascinating then funny. How do these little robotic teases flirt? What language do they use? Can they pass the Turing test? Heck, I’ve had enough bad cyber flirtation, sometimes I feel like a robot!

In Bonnie gaming news this, I’m finally the proud (co)owner of a Mario Galaxy. Thanks for nothing, Nintendo PR. Oh, and apparently this Friday is the second Global Orgasm Day: a time when people across the world wank together for… peace? Environmentalism? Gender equality? All those things are amazingly worthwhile, I’m just not sure what a giant orgasm is going to do to bring them closer to reality. Oh wait, I forgot about crazy science.

Tags: housekeeping, Links

14 Responses to “This Week: New, Shiny, and Sexy”

  1. Woodstock Says:

    I’m skeptical of the chat bot thing. It seems like the entire story comes from the marketing claims of the shady Russian company that advertises it. While I’m sure that there are people out there who are stupid enough to give their personal info to an anonymous chat partner, I don’t think chat bots are at the point where they could stand up to any scrutiny.

    Actually, I think a bot that could realistically cyber would make more money as a pay feature than as an info thief…

  2. Cadallin Says:

    I’ve read about it at Arstechnica, and the technology isn’t terribly impressive, researching further led me to discover that no extant chat bots are appreciably more sophisticated than “Dr. Sbaitso,” a tiny (a few hundred kilobytes) program that came bundled with Soundblaster sound cards in the Early Nineties (intend to showcase digital voice synthesis capabilities that were themselves no better than those featured by Macintosh computers a half decade earlier). This program was itself no more sophisticated than the very first chat bot written the 1960’s.

    All of these are very limited, using a lookup table to parse sentences, and output preconstructed responses.

  3. Cadallin Says:

    All of which reminds me, (sorry for the pair of very verbose posts) you mention the “Turing Test.”

    Seems to me the Turing Test would be a topic right up your alley Bonnie, as its background and original design are rife with gender/sexuality questions; a consequence of Turing’s own sexuality in hyper-homophobic mid-twentieth century England.

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Seems to me the Turing Test would be a topic right up your alley

    I’ve talked about it a bit before here at Heroine Sheik. What other gender/sexuality issues were you thinking of Cadallin, apart from the nature of the original party game?

  5. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Ah, right, and the whole Turing sexuality, trial, death-by-apple thing. I am missing anything else?

  6. Cadallin Says:

    Not off the top my head. On reflection I suppose his case is particularly interesting to me due to my own computer and science geek tendencies, it is rather commonplace in terms of persecution.

    It’s amazing how the topic went from simulated femininity to the relative lameness of star trek in so few posts.

    While uninteresting as AI research, this flirt bot is interesting as research into human behavior. I’m quite curious if it is easier to scam one gender or the other through this method.

    I suspect, that men would be much more highly susceptible (reflecting my perception of the gullibility and lack critical thinking present in my gender as a whole).

  7. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I’ve been meaning to try an experiment for a while now: distill from low-level cybersex conversations a list of 10-20 responses (one set for each gender) and see how far you can get in subsequent chat with just those lines to choose from. It’s a good question though: would it be easier to fool a man or a woman? Also, would it be easier to make a list (i.e. imitate) a man or a woman?

  8. Woodstock Says:

    Interesting. As an experiment, it would be easiest with a small fixed set of lines. As a Turing-capable chat bot, it would be neat to capture input and use it in subsequent runs of the program (or, for true excellence, have the input to the ‘female’ program added to the ‘male’ database, and vice versa).

    I imagine, if you cherry-picked your lines, you could get quite far. – “Bot moans in pleasure.”, etc. I note, though, that the less mainstream the encounter becomes, the harder the programmers’ job – there’s an established ‘storyboard’ for intercourse, but fetish play and so forth would be difficult to simulate.

    Even if the bot wasn’t perfect, I imagine it would ‘get the job done’ for at least some chat participants.

    If the 20-line chat bot succeeded in making most of its partners happy, what would that say about cybersex encounters’ quality in general? What does it say that we’re even considering the question? And why haven’t the Virtual Jenna, etc. companies tried a text version?

    A lot of interesting questions come out of this.

  9. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    the less mainstream the encounter becomes, the harder the programmers’ job

    Very true. It really only works for the most vanilla, and the most banal, encounters–which unfortunately makes up the vast majority in certain venues.

    If the 20-line chat bot succeeded in making most of its partners happy, what would that say about cybersex encounters’ quality in general?

    That’s an important question, I think, but also a complicated one. The easy answer is that cybersex is depressing, low-level, juvenile, etc. Another possible answer is that the majority of real-sex could be classified the same way (Could the same five sex acts satisfy the average man/woman in bed the same way the same 20 lines could satisfy a cyberer?). I’d like to think there’s a third option though: the basic nature of cybering now means we’ve got so much more room to improve, so much more to learn…

  10. Woodstock Says:

    “I’d like to think there’s a third option though: the basic nature of cybering now means we’ve got so much more room to improve, so much more to learn…”

    Well, cybering is very advanced if you go to the right places – the MUDs or MUCKs that specialize are what spring to mind most readily. I think the second explanation rings most true with me – most sex is probably boring and banal (not in content, just in attitude – after all, a good cybersex session can be heterosexual missionary position passionately described in detail by both sides).

    And both kinds of sex have lots of room to improve upon, but I think it’s on an individual level more than as an art form (although another interesting thing about cybersex is the realms beyond reality that it can reach into – I read an article recently about that, but I can’t remember where – it’s fascinating, anyway.)

  11. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Interesting. What do you mean exactly by “realms beyond reality”?

  12. Woodstock Says:

    Well, I’m talking about things like… furries. Inflation fetishes. Very large/very small partners. Even things like cannibalism, ageplay, rape, or bestiality that are technically possible but not really a good idea.

    Basically, anything that requires a lot of imagination to pull off, and can never actually be achieved by people in reality. But people have started doing them online (actually, I wonder if these fetishes existed before the Internet, and just had very frustrated practitioners).

    I think that’s a really interesting facet of cybersex, the new and interesting aspects of sexuality it lets people explore. Or even, again, things they wouldn’t want to try in reality but enjoy in fantasy.

  13. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Basically, anything that requires a lot of imagination to pull off, and can never actually be achieved by people in reality.
    It’s thoughts like that that always make me very curious about the logistics of furry conventions :). You’re totally right though, about cybersex letting us explore!

  14. Sexbots, Dirty Talk, and Giant Hobo Chickens | GeezGamer Says:

    […] I feel like a sexbot. True, my insides are full of squishy human organs, and I don’t think in ones and zeros. But with […]

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