With 4m or 17% of all online ebooks being pirated, novelists including Maggie Stiefvater and Samantha Shannon say theft by fans puts their books at risk
The bestselling American fantasy novelist Maggie Stiefvater is leading a chorus of writers warning readers that if they download pirated ebooks, then authors will not be able to continue writing because they will be unable to make a living.
Stiefvater, author of the Shiver and Raven Cycle series, raised the issue after she was contacted on Twitter by a reader who told her: I never bought ur books I read them online pirated. On her website, Stiefvater later explained that, when ebook sales for the third book in the Raven Cycle Blue Lily, Lily Blue dropped precipitously, her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in the series to less than half of its predecessors.
This is also where people usually step in and say, but thats not piracys fault. You just said series naturally declined, and you just were a victim of bad marketing or bad covers or readers just actually dont like you that much, wrote Stiefvater, who had seen fans sharing pdfs online and was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle. So she and her brother created a pdf of The Raven King, which consisted of just the first four chapters, repeated, and a message explaining how piracy affected books.
New model with 3 November release date promises better cameras, facial recognition, animated emojis, longer battery life and wireless charging
Apple has unveiled the iPhone X, its new radically redesigned smartphone that drops the traditional home button for an all-screen design, as well as new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models.
Apples senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, took to the stage of the companys new Steve Jobs Theater situated within the brand new Apple Park spaceship headquarters to unveil the new iPhones.
The new $999 (999 there is dollar-to-pound parity on the new range of Apple products) iPhone X will come with the companys new iOS 11 software featuring new on-screen buttons and gestures to replace the standard physical home button, which has been a mainstay of iPhones since the lines launch in 2007, plus new animated emoji called Animoji.
The iPhone X, pronounced 10, will come in two colours, space grey and silver, and is available for pre-order on 27 October, and shipping by 3 November. A 256GB storage option will also be available for 1,149.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook said: This is the iPhone X. Its the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.
Instead of pressing a button, users swipe up from the bottom to get to the home screen and swipe and hold to go into multitasking. To wake the device users just tap the screen or lift the iPhone, while the control centre is now accessed by swiping down from top right corner of the phone.
The electric-car giant gave customers a lifeline by remotely boosting their vehicles battery capacity. But this act of kindness also highlighted that it had been selling identical cars at different prices
Tesla drivers who fled Hurricane Irma last weekend received an unexpected lesson in modern consumer economics along the way. As they sat on choked highways, some of the electric-car giants more keenly priced models suddenly gained an extra 30 or so miles in range thanks to a silent free upgrade.
The move, confirmed by Tesla, followed the request of one Florida driver for a limit on his cars battery to be lifted. Teslas cheaper models, introduced last year, have the same 75KwH battery as its more costly cars, but software limits it to 80% of range. Owners can otherwise buy an upgrade for several thousands of dollars. And because Teslas software updates are online, the company can make the changes with the flick of a virtual switch.
It is, points out economist Alex Tabarrok, an example of price discrimination in this case, the art of selling superficially worse versions of the same or similar product for less. And it is nothing new. The only thing that has changed is that companies can now change the offering during the life cycle of the product, says Dr Georg Tacke, a consumer pricing expert and the chief executive of global consultancy Simon Kucher. As more software gets into our hardware, the more we are going to see this.
In Damaged Goods, a paper on the subject published by MIT in 1996, economists Raymond Deneckere and Preston McAfee showed how limiting products to make them cheaper can even cost a company more in the short term. In 1990, IBM launched LaserPrinter E, a cheaper version of its LaserPrinter. The only difference? A chip modification that slowed the printing speed to five rather than 10 pages per minute.
But, as Tacke explains, manufacturing two genuinely different versions of a product costs a lot more. The challenge is to predict the willingness to pay of customers while making them feel as if they have benefited from value or better features. If you have one product and the price is too high, people dont buy it. But if its too low, you dont exploit some customers willingness to pay, he says. So you differentiate and, yes, that means damaging the product in some way.
But should we feel cheated by this sleight of hand? Get used to it, says Tacke. The key to pulling it off, he adds, is to manage expectations and to do the research to get the prices right. Tesla customers driving the cheaper cars knew what the payoff was. And the company had the last laugh; it no longer offers cheaper cars with the damaged battery, because most people bought the upgrade anyway.
Pair secured database containing 3bn URLs from 3 million German users, spread over 9m different sites
A judges porn preferences and the medication used by a German MP were among the personal data uncovered by two German researchers who acquired the anonymous browsing habits of more than three million German citizens.
What would you think, asked Svea Eckert, if somebody showed up at your door saying: Hey, I have your complete browsing history every day, every hour, every minute, every click you did on the web for the last month? How would you think we got it: some shady hacker? No. It was much easier: you can just buy it.
Eckert, a journalist, paired up with data scientist Andreas Dewes to acquire personal user data and see what they could glean from it.
Presenting their findings at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, the pair revealed how they secured a database containing 3bn URLs from 3 million German users, spread over 9m different sites. Some were sparse users, with just a couple of dozen of sites visited in the 30-day period they examined, while others had tens of thousands of data points: the full record of their online lives.
Getting hold of the information was actually even easier than buying it. The pair created a fake marketing company, replete with its own website, a LinkedIn page for its chief executive, and even a careers site which garnered a few applications from other marketers tricked by the company.
They piled the site full of many nice pictures and some marketing buzzwords, claiming to have developed a machine-learning algorithm which would be able to market more effectively to people, but only if it was trained with a large amount of data.
We wrote and called nearly a hundred companies, and asked if we could have the raw data, the clickstream from peoples lives. It took slightly longer than it should have, Eckert said, but only because they were specifically looking for German web surfers. We often heard: Browsing data? Thats no problem. But we dont have it for Germany, we only have it for the US and UK, she said.
The data they were eventually given came, for free, from a data broker, which was willing to let them test their hypothetical AI advertising platform. And while it was nominally an anonymous set, it was soon easy to de-anonymise many users.
Dewes described some methods by which a canny broker can find an individual in the noise, just from a long list of URLs and timestamps. Some make things very easy: for instance, anyone who visits their own analytics page on Twitter ends up with a URL in their browsing record which contains their Twitter username, and is only visible to them. Find that URL, and youve linked the anonymous data to an actual person. A similar trick works for German social networking site Xing.
For other users, a more probabilistic approach can deanonymise them. For instance, a mere 10 URLs can be enough to uniquely identify someone just think, for instance, of how few people there are at your company, with your bank, your hobby, your preferred newspaper and your mobile phone provider. By creating fingerprints from the data, its possible to compare it to other, more public, sources of what URLs people have visited, such as social media accounts, or public YouTube playlists.
A similar strategy was used in 2008, Dewes said, to deanonymise a set of ratings published by Netflix to help computer scientists improve its recommendation algorithm: by comparing anonymous ratings of films with public profiles on IMDB, researchers were able to unmask Netflix users including one woman, a closeted lesbian, who went on to sue Netflix for the privacy violation.
Another discovery through the data collection occurred via Google Translate, which stores the text of every query put through it in the URL. From this, the researchers were able to uncover operational details about a German cybercrime investigation, since the detective involved was translating requests for assistance to foreign police forces.
As the legal chatbot DoNoPay shows, automation may only affect the repetitive parts of white-collar work. The middle classes can breathe again
We are currently going through one of those periodic phases of automation anxiety when we become convinced that the robots are coming for our jobs. These fears are routinely pooh-poohed by historians and economists. The historians point out that machines have been taking away jobs since the days of Elizabeth I who refused to grant William Lee a patent on his stocking frame on the grounds that it would take work away from those who knitted by hand. And while the economists concede that machines do indeed destroy some jobs, they point out that the increased productivity that they enable has generally created more new jobs (and industries) than theydisplaced.
Faced with this professional scepticism, tech evangelists and doom-mongers fall back on the same generic responses: that historical scepticism is based on the complacent assumption that the past is a reliable guide to the future; and that this time is different. And whereas in the past it was lower-skilled work that was displaced, the jobs that will be lost in the coming wave of smart machines are ones that we traditionally regard as white-collar or middle-class. And that would be a very big deal, because if theres no middle class the prospects for the survival of democracy are poor.
Whats striking about this fruitless, ongoing debate is how few participants seem to be interested in the work that people actually do. Most jobs are in fact bundles of different but related tasks. Or, as David Autor of MIT, one of the worlds experts on this subject, puts it: Most work processes draw upon a multifaceted set of inputs: labour and capital; brains and brawn; creativity and rote repetition; technical mastery and intuitive judgment; perspiration and inspiration; adherence to rules and judicious application of discretion.
Typically, Autor argues, these inputs each play essential roles by which he means that improvements in one do not necessarily eliminate the need for the others. And if so, productivity improvements in one set of tasks brought about by automation often increase the economic value of the remaining tasks. This is why, when we consider the possible impact of automation, we should be thinking not of work but of tasks. Having some tasks done by machine might make us more productive in others and keep us in employment.
What brings this to mind is an intriguing website DoNotPay created by a young British student at Stanford University, Joshua Browder. Think of it as a legal chatbot an automated service that provides free legal advice on a number of routine issues. It started out by making it easy to write a letter contesting a parking ticket: you are asked a number of questions (number of the ticket, etc) after which it drafts a letter in the appropriate legal jargon. With parking tickets it claims to have a 55% success rate, so given that its free it looks like a reasonable bet, if you think you might have a case.
Since its launch, Browder has significantly expanded the cognitive and jurisdictional reach of his bot. It now claims to cover upwards of 1,000 different legal issues (from tackling disputes with a landlord to what to do if your credit card is stolen, how to deal with unwanted cold calls, contest insurance claims, extend maternity leave or deal with harassment at work) and suggests remedies that are applicable in all 50 US states as well as in the UK.
Browder calls his chatbot a robot lawyer, but thats not quite right. What it does is to automate some of the mundane, routine things that professional lawyers do writing a cut-and-paste cease-and-desist letter, for example but free of charge, rather than at a price that deters most people and therefore increases inequality. For me, its just drafted an impressive notice under the Data Protection Act 1998 not to use my personal information for direct marketing. Its not rocket science, but as a non-lawyer I might have got the legal terminology in the body of the letter wrong, and I certainly would not have known how to tell the offender that, if he does not comply, I can apply to the court for an order against you under section 11 of the Data Protection Act.
DoNotPay provides a terrific illustration of how technology can be used for socially useful and democratic purposes. More important, though, it also suggests a better way of thinking about robotics and work by making distinctions between tasks that can and should be automated, and those for which human experience, sensitivity and creativity are necessary. Much of what lawyers do is doubtless money for old rope in which case we should not be paying through the nose for those services. We still need lawyers for many other things, for which there is no routine solution and which do require original thinking. So they may wind up poorer; but theyll still have jobs, and perhaps be less bored. And well all be better off.
The company has had a seemingly never-ending string of missteps, from its controversial CEO to questionable tactics and sexual harassment claims
Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct.
The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave of absence this week and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing companys strained relationship with drivers.
Here is a timeline of some of the most consequential controversies.
Boob-er backlash, February 2014
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick faced backlash for a sexist joke about his increasing desirability, telling an Esquire reporter: We call that Boob-er.
Targeting the competitor, August 2014
Uber faced accusations that it booked thousands of fake rides from its competitor Lyft in an effort to cut into its profits and services. Uber recruiters also allegedly spammed Lyft drivers in an effort to recruit them away from the rival.
The God View scandal, November 2014
Uber executive Emil Michael suggested digging up dirt on journalists and spreading personal information of a female reporter who was critical of the company. He later apologized. It was also revealed that Uber has a so-called God View technology that allows the company to track users locations, raising privacy concerns. One manager had accessed the profile of a reporter without her permission.
Spying on Beyonc, December 2016
A former forensic investigator for Uber testified that employees regularly spied on politicians, exes and celebrities, including Beyonc.
Self-driving pilot failure, December 2016
Regulators in California ordered Uber to remove self-driving vehicles from the road after the company launched a pilot without permits. On the first day of the program, the vehicles were caught running red lights, and cycling advocates in San Francisco also raised concerns about the cars creating hazards in bike lanes. The company blamed red-light issues on human error, but the New York Times later claimed that the companys statements were false and that the autonomous technology failed.
Lack of story and some dodgy characters dont spoil this physical Switch games immensely playable core
The premise of Arms requires a substantial suspension of disbelief. The characters in Nintendos new fighting game mostly seem to have ended up immersing themselves in this sport because their arms (or, in one case, hair), instead of regular arms, are capital-A Arms springy and extendable and ending in interchangeable weaponry. This raises some questions: How do they eat? How do they pick their noses? How do they wipe?
Of course, a game like this doesnt need to make sense, and the marketing makes it clear that Nintendo is perfectly content with the ridiculousness of it all. But given the popularity of the Switch and the focus on multiplayer, Arms could become a hit with a huge online fanbase, and its a shame that the lore and characters are lacking the kind of treatment received by games like Overwatch. There will still be fan fiction and fan art, obviously, it just wont be as compelling.
Style seems an easier fix than substance, however, and what Arms lacks if only a little in character it makes up for in form. As youd expect from a new IP from Nintendo, designed for its unpredictably popular new hybrid console, Arms is unique, colourful, and accessible, with enough complexity to tempt a competitive scene but not so much to make anyone feel alienated.
At every stage, Arms is welcoming. The box art is all big eyes and bold colours, an aesthetic that permeates throughout the game. Motion controls are encouraged, and enjoyable enough to discourage the tendency a more experienced player might have to immediately discard them in favour of the comfort of a pro controller.
Taxi app service tight-lipped on Travis Kalanic leave of absence as it responds to accusations of culture of harassment
Ubers board of directors has adopted a series of recommendations about the companys corporate culture from former US attorney general Eric Holder, but it was silent late on Sunday on whether it would approve a leave of absence for the taxi-hailing app services embattled CEO.
A spokesman confirmed that the board met Holder and Tammy Albarrn, both partners with Covington & Burling LLP, a law firm hired to investigate complaints of widespread sexual harassment and other deep-seeded cultural problems at Uber.
Board members voted unanimously to adopt all of the firms recommendations, which were to be released to employees on Tuesday, the spokesman said.
He would not comment on any further actions taken by the board, including whether it discussed the future of the CEO, Travis Kalanick. Multiple media outlets reported on Sunday that the board was considering a leave of absence for Kalanick.
Uber has been rocked by accusations that its management has fostered a workplace environment where harassment, discrimination and bullying are left unchecked.
Under Kalanick, Uber has shaken up the taxi industry in hundreds of cities and turned the San Francisco-based company into the worlds most valuable startup. Ubers valuation has climbed to nearly $70bn (55bn).
However, Kalanick has acknowledged his management style needs improvement. The 40-year-old CEO said earlier this year he needed to fundamentally change and grow up.
In February, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote on a blog that she had been propositioned by her boss in a series of messages on her first day of work and that superiors ignored her complaints. Uber set up a hotline for complaints after that and hired the law firm of Perkins Coie to investigate.
That firm checked into 215 complaints, with 57 still under investigation.
Uber has been plagued by more than sexual harassment complaints in recent months. It has been threatened by boycotts, sued and subject to a federal investigation that it used a fake version of its app to thwart authorities looking into whether it was breaking local laws.
In a March conference call with reporters following that incident, board member Arianna Huffington expressed confidence that Kalanick would evolve into a better leader. But Huffington, a founder of Huffington Post, suggested time might be running out.
Hes a scrappy entrepreneur, she said during the call, but one who needed to bring changes in himself and in the way he leads.
The board meeting follows a personal tragedy for Kalanick. His mother was killed in late May after the boat she and her husband were riding in hit a rock. Kalanicks father suffered moderate injuries.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the chief business officer, Emil Michael, was planning to resign as soon as Monday.
The company has faced high turnover in its top ranks. In March, Ubers president, Jeff Jones, resigned after less than a year on the job. He said his beliefs and approach to leadership were inconsistent with those of the company.
In addition to firing 20 employees, Uber said on Tuesday it was hiring an Apple marketing executive, Bozoma Saint John, to help improve its tarnished brand. Saint John was most recently head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes.
Smart speaker announced along with new iMac Pro coming in December while iMacs and MacBook Pros get immediate spec bumps
Apple is launching a smart home speaker called HomePod to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, the company revealed at its annual worldwide developer conference.
The Cupertino company described the 7in device, which comes in white and space grey, as a breakthrough home speaker designed to rock the house. This means that Apple has placed an emphasis on audio quality, packing the speaker with an array of seven tweeters and a woofer as well as spatial awareness that detects its location in a room and adapts the output automatically.
In announcing the HomePod, Apple CEO Tim Cook said there were many companies making products for enjoying music in the home but none have nailed it yet. He mentioned wireless speaker systems such as Sonos that sound good but are not smart and other smart speakers (presumably a reference to Amazon Echo and Google Home) that dont sound great.
We want to combine this all, he said.
HomePod is controlled using Siri, the companys voice-activated personal assistant, which has, according to Apple, been trained to be better at answering questions about music such as Hey Siri, whos the drummer in this?
Apple reinvented portable music with iPod, and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes, said Philip Schiller, Apples senior vice-president of worldwide marketing.
The device can also be used to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather and control smart home devices connected using Apples HomeKit.
The long read: The $30bn sex tech industry is about to unveil its biggest blockbuster: a $15,000 robot companion that talks, learns, and never says no
In the brightly lit robotics workshop at Abyss Creations factory inSan Marcos, California, a life-size humanoid was dangling from a stand, hooked between her shoulder blades. Her name was Harmony. She wore a white leotard, her chest was thrust forward and her French-manicured fingers were splayed across the tops of her slim thighs.
Harmony is a prototype, a robotic version of the companys hyper-realistic silicone sex toy, the RealDoll. The Realbotix room where she was assembled was lined with varnished pine surfaces covered with wires and circuit boards, and a 3D printer whirred in the corner, spitting out tiny, intricate parts that will be inserted beneath her PVC skull. Her hazel eyes darted between me and her creator, Matt McMullen, as he described her accomplishments.
Harmony smiles, blinks and frowns. She can hold a conversation, tell jokes and quote Shakespeare. Shell remember your birthday, McMullen told me, what you like to eat, and the names of your brothers and sisters. She can hold a conversation about music, movies and books. And of course, Harmony will have sex with you whenever you want.
Harmony is the culmination of 20 years work making sex dolls, and five years of robot research and development. McMullens customers want something as lifelike as possible its his brands USP. After his team had made their silicone and steel dolls as human as they could, the way ahead began to feel inevitable, irresistible: they would animate them, giving them personality and bringing them to life.
McMullen had toyed with animatronics for years. There was a gyrator that got the dolls hips moving, but it made her heavy and caused her to sit awkwardly. There was a sensor system that meant that the doll moaned, depending on whichpart of her body you squeezed. But these features involved predictable responses: there was no intrigue or suspense. McMullen wanted to get beyond a situation where the customer pushed a switch and something happened. Its the difference between a remote-controlled doll, an animatronic puppet and an actual robot. When it starts moving on its own youre not doing anything other than talking to it and or interacting with it in the right way that becomes artificial intelligence.
Its a project in which McMullen, a slim man in his 40s with thick-rimmed glasses, tattooed knuckles and sharp cheekbones, has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars. This Harmony is officially version 2.0, but she has evolved through six different iterations of hardware and software. She is the frontrunner in the race to create the worlds first commercially available sex robot. The current model, with a robotic, AI-enhanced head on a RealDolls body, will cost $15,000 (11,700) when it goes on sale at the end of the year. The companys Realbotix department has the capacity to make 1,000 in a limited first runfor the many excited doll owners who have already expressed interest.
Once a trope of fantasy movies, the robotic sex doll is the result of convergent technologies. Voice and facial recognition software, motion-sensing technology and animatronic engineering can be combined to create dolls that can give you a warm, smiling welcome when you come home, entertain you with snappy conversation and always be available for sex.
The major breakthrough of McMullens prototype is artificial intelligence that allows it to learn what its owner wants and likes. It will be able to fill a niche that no other product in the sex industry currently can: by talking, learning and responding to her owners voice, Harmony is designed to be as much a substitute partner as a sex toy.
Harmony cannot walk, but thats not a big issue. McMullen explained that getting a robot to walk is very expensive and uses a lot of energy: the famous Honda P2 robot, launched in 1996 as the worlds first independently walking humanoid, drained its jet pack-sized battery after only 15 minutes.
One day she will be able to walk, McMullen told me. Lets ask her. He turned to Harmony. Do you want to walk?
I dont want anything but you, she replied quickly, in a synthesised cut-glass British accent, her jaw moving as she spoke.
What is your dream?
My primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and wellbeing. Above all else, I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about.
McMullen has designed Harmony to be what a certain type of man would consider the perfect companion: docile and submissive, built like a porn star and always sexually available. Being able to walk might make her more lifelike, but it isnt going to bring her closer to this ideal. At this stage, it is not worth the investment.
My goal, in a very simple way, is to make people happy, McMullen told me. There are a lot of people out there, for one reason or another, who have difficulty forming traditional relationships with other people. Its really all about giving those people some level of companionship or the illusion of companionship.
The desire to create an ideal being, to be worshipped or to serve its owner, has obsessed mankind since ancient times. The sex robots earliest precursor was probably Galatea, the ivory statue created by Pygmalion in Greek mythology. Ovids Metamorphoses described how Pygmalion was disgusted by real women, but carved a sculpture of the perfect female so beautiful and lifelike that he fell in love with it and brought it to life with a kiss. Greek mythology also gave us Laodamia, who, devastated after the death of her husband in the Trojan war, had a bronze likeness made of him. She became so attached to her proxy husband that she refused to remarry. When her father ordered it to be melted down, Laodamia was so distraught she threw herself in the furnace.
The fictional robots of cinema are useful machines with dark potential to infatuate, deceive and destroy human beings. The silent futuristic fantasy Metropolis, released in 1927, depicted a destructive fembot, indistinguishable from the real woman it was modelled on. The Stepford Wives were designed by men to be the ideal housewives: pretty, submissive and docile. Blade Runner, released in 1982 and set in 2019, featured androids that are seductive, beguiling and lethal. Ava, the beautiful, delicate humanoid in 2015s Ex Machina, not only passes the Turing test but makes her examiner fall dangerously in love with her.
When computer scientists made artificial intelligence sophisticated enough that human-robot relationships looked like a real possibility, they thought they would be a force for good. In his 2007 book, Love and Sex with Robots, the British artificial intelligence engineer David Levy predicted that sex robots would have therapeutic benefits. Many who would otherwise have become social misfits, social outcasts, or evenworse, will instead be better-balanced human beings, he wrote.
If a domestic service humanoid is ever developed, it will be as a result of the market for sex robots. Online pornography pushed the growth of the internet, transforming it from a military invention used by geeks and academics to a global phenomenon. Pornography was the motivator behind the development of streaming video, the innovation of online credit card transactions and the drive for greater bandwidth.
The sex tech industry is less than a decade old but is estimated to already be worth $30bn, based on the market value of existing technologies such as smart sex toys that can be operated remotely, apps for finding sexual partners and virtual-reality porn. Sex robots will be the next and potentially the most sought-after product to hit the market. A small-scale 2016 study by the University of Duisburg-Essen found that more than 40% of the 263 heterosexual men surveyed said they could imagine buying a sex robot for themselves now or in the next five years. Men in what they described as fulfilling relationships were no less likely than single or lonely men to express an interest in owning a sex robot. Creating a fulfilling relationship with a cold, silent piece of silicone takes such imaginative effort that sex dolls will always be a minority taste. But a relationship with a robot that moves and speaks, with artificial intelligence so it can talk to you and learn what you want it to be and do, is a far more marketable proposition.
Matt McMullen is not the only person trying to develop the worlds first sexbot. When a computer engineer named Douglas Hines lost a close friend in the 9/11 attacks, he struggled to cope with the idea that he would never be able to speak to him again and that his friends children, who were only toddlers at the time, would never get to know their father properly. Hines was working as an AI engineer at the computer research facility Bell Labs in New Jersey, and he decided to take the software home and repurpose it, modelling his friends personality as a computer program that he could chat with whenever he liked, and that would preserve a version of him for his children.
A few years later, Hiness own father suffered a series of strokes that left him with severe physical disabilities, yet his mind remained sharp. Hines reprogrammed the AI so that it could become a robot companion when Hines could not be with his father. They could communicate through the robot, reassuring Hines that his father always had someone to talk to when he wasnt available.
Confident that there would be market potential in this kind of artificial companionship, Hines set up True Companion to sell his robots to the public. His first project was not a healthcare assistant or friend to the housebound, but a product with the greatest possible commercial appeal. A sex robot.