Invasion of the sexbots? Get a grip

In 1988, before the internet arrived in anybody’s house, I helped lead Britain’s first study of e-commerce – what was then known as ‘teleshopping’. I worked with British Airways, BT and other firms to see whether people would buy goods and services through computers. Near the end of the project, I dined with a senior journalist from the Daily Telegraph to talk about it. As prawn cocktails were served, he asked his first question. ‘Won’t giving people the power to shop through IT lead to an explosion of satellite pornography?’, he ventured. After that, the interview pretty much collapsed. I learned then that large parts of the media have an in-built tendency to see IT, ironically, in digital terms. IT is either pure black, and full of doom; or it’s…

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