Tag Archives: Artificial Intelligence

Fake News, AI, And The (Potentially Horrifying) Future Of Media

In one of the most iconic scenes in the famous movie/mindfuck that is “The Matrix,” Morpheus asked Neo a question that has perplexed philosophers, scientists, and stoners for centuries.

“What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

To this day, the answer to that question is incomplete. It’s just as much a mental marathon to Keanu Reeves as it was to Plato in the days of Ancient Greece. Plato had his famous allegory of the cave.  Neo had his existential breakdown after taking the red pill. Everyone else is just waiting for someone to resolve the debate over what is real so they can get back to playing fantasy sports.

The philosophical conflict over what is means to be real is an old, philosophical question with some pretty mind-bending implications. I’ve talked a lot about the frustrating limitations of the human brain, but I’ve tried to avoid some of the more metaphysical questions, if only because I favor stimulating genitals more than minds.

Avoiding these questions has actually been fairly easy for most of human history. That’s because, even in the era of mass media, we can usually trust our senses to tell us whether something is sufficiently real. Even in the era of Photoshop, we can usually figure out when someone is trying to polish reality to an extreme. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious.

Well, now find ourselves entering unknown territory beyond the so-called uncanny valley. We’re just starting to become more aware of the flaws in our brain wiring. Concepts like “alternative facts” and “fake news” are buzzwords that might as well have come from a George Orwell fever dream.

We may not be living in the world of “1984” yet, but we are experiencing the concepts behind it, such as doublethink and newspeak. It’s all too easy these days to find instances of politicians being hypocrites or debates over proper pronouns. These are all elements that undermine our ability to make sense of what’s real.

As hard as it is to understand reality in an era where people get into arguments over the color of a dress, it’s actually about to get even harder. In fact, it’s about to get so distressingly difficult that our caveman brains will be even less reliable than they already are. Those brains already convince us that we have a chance to win the lottery or date Megan Fox. It’s not equipped to handle greater challenges.

It may not have a choice because at the same time we’re adapting to this era of alternative facts and fake news, the pace of technological advancement is accelerating and giving us the finger as it passes us by. The growth of artificial intelligence is already accelerating, so much so that even brilliant people like Stephen Hawking are calling it an existential threat.

Even before we face the prospect of fighting real life terminator robots, though, there’s another issue we’ll have to deal with. Anyone who owns PlayStation 4 or X-box One already has a vague idea of what I mean. Long before computers become smart enough to enslave us, they’ll become powerful enough to fool our senses.

Recently, researchers at the University of Washington accomplished an amazing/terrifying milestone in computer science. They were able to use an artificial intelligence technology to create a completely artificial rendering of former President Barack Obama. Watch this video and you might have a better understanding of how Neo felt after he took that red pill.

It shouldn’t take a dirty imagination that spends a lot of time contemplating sexy stories to realize the implications. It’s hard enough figuring out what’s real, if anything, about a rant by Sean Hannity or a documentary by Michael Moore. How the hell are we going to trust any video image we see if there’s technology that can render images so perfectly that our brains can’t tell the difference?

The short answer is we can’t. The long answer is even more distressing. Picture a world where realistic videos depicting Justin Beiber waving his dick in the face of starving orphans in Uganda surfaces. Picture a world where a realistic video of Kim Kardashian choking a bald eagle to death. With this technology, it won’t just be possible. It might be unavoidable.

Let’s not lie to ourselves. People have agendas and they’ll go to absurd lengths to further that agenda. It’s easy to ignore someone standing on a street corner, wearing a faded Pink Floyd shirt and shouting from a soap box that the CIA is slipping crack into milk. It’s a bit harder when that same person can use a computer to create realistic video showing CIA agents working with washed up rappers on a secret farm in Montana.

We’re already seeing this technology in movies where long-dead actors are coming back to life for iconic roles. There’s no way it’ll stop there. There’s just too much potential for someone to further their agenda. In the era of fake news and alternative facts, we can expect plenty of that potential to be realized.

What does this mean for the future of media? Well, that’s actually pretty damn scary when you think about it. While the technology is still being developed, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes refined. Add this to growing improvements in computer graphics technology and suddenly, you can’t trust any video you see.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s something as simple as a speech by the President or Teddy Roosevelt fighting a grizzly bear. Who’s to say which is real and which is simulated? With enough computing power, both look equally real to our brains.

If you think you might be able uncover the truth through sound, then I’ve got bad news for you. There’s another AI in development that can simulate anyone’s voice, including those of politicians and celebrities. You want to hear Sean Spicer go on an anti-sematic tirade that would make Mel Gibson blush? With this technology, that’s entirely possible.

There may very well come a time in the near future when anything we see and hear from the media is potentially fake. We already have cases of the news media deceptively editing stories to spin the story a particular way. Can you imagine what they’ll do when they can just use a computer to create imagery out of nothing? It might end up giving Alex Jones a heart attack.

These advancements in computer technology couldn’t come at a worse time. Trust in the media is already at an all-time low. Trust in government has been in decline for a half-century. Once the media has tools with which to forge their own reality out of nothing, then people will have even less reason to trust them.

This goes way beyond fake news and propaganda. This technology will allow those in positions of power to literally mold reality in accord with their message. That’s a terrifying thought, especially to anyone who sees the kind of dishonesty that major outlets like Fox News and CNN have exercised.

Now, that’s not to say these false stories will be accepted by anyone with a functioning brain. However, and it’s worth belaboring, our limited human brains will still struggle. We can barely get through a season of “Lost” without getting a headache. What hope do we have in a future when it’s possible to forge a false reality on demand?

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Boredom: The Epidemic Of The Future?

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Back in August of 2013, a very heinous, very unusual crime made headlines around the world. In Dunkan, Oklahoma, a group of three teenagers allegedly murdered Christopher Lane, an Australian exchange student just out for a jog, in cold blood just because they were bored.

Think about that for a moment. A bunch of teenagers got so bored and were so desperate form stimulation that they resorted to cold-blooded murder just to get their adrenaline flowing. We, as a society, are so used to crimes of passion and desperation. They’re basically the premise of every episode of “CSI” and “Law and Order.”

The fact those shows keep getting renewed show that we have a certain concept of what inspires and propagates crime and deviance. People who commit these crimes usually have some sort of overpowering motivation that overshadows any sense of decency they have. They’re desperate for money, they’re hopelessly in love, or in some cases, they’re pathological psychopaths with fatal flaws in their biology.

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What makes the murder of Christopher Lane so horrifying is that it completely upends that narrative. The killers, in this case, weren’t motivated by revenge, money, or personality disorders. They were just bored.

That is extremely disconcerting because we’ve all felt bored at some point in our lives. There was this one time the power got knocked out at my house for nearly two days and I couldn’t do damn near anything. When it got dark and I had no more light with which to read comics, it got to be damn near agonizing. I never did anything stupid because of it, but this crime should give everyone pause.

The fact that we’re all capable of being exceedingly bored reveals a disturbing possibility. If three bored teenagers are capable of such a heinous act, then are others just as capable? Are we, personally, capable of such horror? Depending on how bored you’ve been in the past, that’s a disturbing question to even think about.

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However, it may become an increasingly relevant question in the future. Usually, when I talk about the future on this blog, I explore the more positive ramifications of our advances in technology. I talk about how this technology will cure infectious disease, enhance our cognitive abilities beyond our caveman limits, and improve our sex lives to amazingly kinky heights.

I know, at times, it sound downright utopian in my vision of the future. By our current standards, wherein we live in a world where 3.7 million children die before their fifth birthday, it certainly seems rosy by comparison. However, I stick my fingers in my ears and start singing John Lennon songs when I contemplate potential problems in that vision. This is one issue that’s easy to overlook, but has major implications.

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At this moment in history, society has a great many distractions in terms of entertainment and productivity. Most people have jobs, of some sort, to keep them busy. The three teenagers who killed Christopher Lee were on summer vacation and had nothing productive to do. It’s hard to know whether a part-time job at a fast food joint would’ve averted a murder, but they would’ve had to find a different excuse.

Whether you’re toiling in the fields of a small farm or running around an office like an episode of “The Office,” we’ve always had some kind of work to keep us, as a species, occupied. For most of human history, we had to work. If we didn’t, then we starved to death. It was that simple.

It’s another rare instance where caveman logic seems to apply equally across time and history. It doesn’t matter whether we’re hunter/gatherers or sweatshop workers putting together barbie dolls. We’re a species that’s wired to work. It may not always be the work we prefer, but we know why it’s necessary on some levels. We need to gather and manage our resources to survive.

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That, however, is where the chink in our boredom-busting armor might start. For most of human history, we’ve always had to work ourselves to the bone to keep our species and our civilization moving. That’s rapidly changing due to trends in automation. Add in the growth of artificial intelligencethe rise of 3D printing, and the possibility of lab-grown food, and suddenly we don’t need millions of people toiling anymore.

Now by most measures, it’s a good thing that we don’t need people to endure back-breaking labor just to get the bare minimum of sustenance. Most people would rather not work in fields of cow shit or work 12-hour shifts in a factory. They’d rather work a reasonable number of hours that provides them abundant leisure and family time. That’s wholly possible in a modern economy.

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However, at some point, technology will make even that reasonable set of hours won’t be necessary. Our ability to make our food, purify our water, and generate power might become so efficient that the amount of work needed is minimal. Given our tendency to screw up on the job, it may get to a point where having human workers is a liability.

It could lead to a huge mass of unemployment or under-employment. However, that wouldn’t mean everyone would have to live in poverty. On the contrary, it may eliminate poverty altogether because we could allocate the basic necessities of life so efficiently. Policies like the universal basic income, which I’ve talked about before, may effectively decouple the link between work and survival.

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This is all well and good for people who hate doing menial jobs for low pay, but it creates a situation that we, as a species, have never dealt with before. What happens to our bodies, minds, and biology when we don’t have to work at all and are subject to the constant threat of boredom?

That’s not entirely a rhetorical question. It’s also one of those questions that’s impossible to answer now, but might be possible to address in the future. We’ve never had a functioning society where nobody has to work and everybody has access to the basics of life, free of charge. It’s so unprecedented that it’s hard to know whether we’re even wired for it.

The ghastly murder of Christopher Lane implies that our minds and bodies don’t react well to boredom. It makes us think crazy thoughts, do crazy things, and act on crazy impulses. What else other than boredom can explain people dedicating so much time and energy into making paperclip chains?

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It doesn’t just reflect to our basic caveman settings. These are essential survival instincts that every species that has ever lived have built into their biology. Every creature, be it a lion or a dung beetle, dedicates a significant amount of its existence simply securing food, avoiding predators, and finding a mate. Given the never-ending competition of nature and evolution, there’s literally no time to be bored.

Humans are in an unprecedented situation compared to other species. We’re basically like players in a massive multi-player video game armed with cheat codes. We are so dominate, so powerful, and so adaptable that no other species has a prayer. Sure, a deer may kill an unlucky human every now and then, but deer are just not able to dominate the way humans dominate.

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The problem is that this undermines the very mechanics of evolution and survival instinct. What happens to a species where it doesn’t need those instincts to survive and reproduce anymore? With our tools and technology, humans can kill any predator and beat any disease.

That means our only concern would be reproduction. That might already be playing out to some extent. There have been some links, albeit weak ones, between adolescent boredom and teen pregnancy. When you think about it from a survival standpoint, it makes sense. If there’s no food to gather or predators to avoid, your next instinct is to mate. At the very least, having kids gives you something to do.

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However, technology may make that unnecessary as well. Between advances in contraception and artificial wombs, even that most basic instinct won’t be necessary for the propagation of our species. In that scenario, sex would have no reproductive purposes. It would just be another thing we do with our bodies when we’re bored. While that might mean more people get laid, it also means risking even more boredom.

Can we, as a species and as individuals, function with that kind of boredom? In a future where we have so few concerns to our survival, safety, and propagation, can we actually tolerate life? Again, it’s not entirely a rhetorical question.

Just imagine yourself in that situation. You wake up in a nice, comfortable dwelling every day. You don’t have to work. Anything you want to eat is readily available. If you want to have sex, there are apps to connect you with people or sex robots that make that as easy as ordering a pizza. You have all the time you want for hobbies, sports, and what not.

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It might be fun at first, but what happens when you get bored? How do you fill every hour of every day? What happens when you’ve read all your books, beat every video game, and collected every stamp? What will you do to entertain yourself?

That’s not to say some people will resort to the lengths that those teenagers in Oklahoma went to when they murdered an innocent man. However, the fact that this happened today when we’re still a long way from that rosy future is telling. It might even be a warning that we’re not prepared for the boredom pandemic to come.

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Why We MUST Upgrade Our Caveman Brains (Or Go Extinct)

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As a general rule, I don’t pay much credence to the doomsayers and wannabe prophets that say the apocalypse is just around the corner. It’s not that I’m willfully oblivious to the many threats facing the world today. It’s just that the track-record of those predicting the end of the world is so laughably bad that I’d give optimistic Cleveland Browns fans more credibility.

It’s no secret that the world around us can be pretty damn terrifying. There are many apocalyptic scenarios in which humans are unlikely to survive. There are even a few in which we can’t do a goddamn thing about it. We could be hit with a gamma ray burst or an alien invasion tomorrow morning and we would be extinct by sundown.

That said, the world around us generally more mundane than we care to admit. When you think about it, the idea of the world not being on the brink of disaster is kind of boring. It makes sense for some people to conflate certain threats, so much so that preparing for doomsday is a very lucrative industry.

However, there is one particular doomsday scenario that I feel does warrant more concern than the rest. It’s a scenario that is fast-approaching, overwhelming, and potentially devastating to any species with a tendency for hilarious ineptitude.

It has nothing to do with climate. It has nothing to do with diseases. It has nothing to do with killer asteroids either. It involves artificial intelligence. By that, I don’t mean the killer robots we see in the Terminator movies. Given Skynet’s reliance on time machines, I can’t honestly say that system counts as very intelligent.

I’m referring to the kind of AI whose intelligence compared to us is akin to our intelligence compared to ants. Given how ants can be wiped out with as simple magnifying glass, it’s scary to imagine how a system that smart could wipe us out. It’s a system that would be so beyond our ability to comprehend that we could never hope to stop it. We might as well be ants trying to understand quantum mechanics.

I’m not alone in this concern either. There are people many times smarter and many times richer than I’ll ever be who have voiced concerns about the prospect of artificial intelligence. They see the same trends everyone else sees, but they’re smart enough and rich enough to peak behind the curtains. If they’re speaking up, then those concerns are worth hearing.

Those concerns do have a context, though. In talking about artificial intelligence as a threat to our survival, I’m not just referring to computers that can beat us at chess or beat the greatest Go champion with disturbing ease. Those systems are basically fancy calculators. They’re not exactly “intelligent,” per se.

These types of intelligences aren’t dangerous unless you specifically program them to be dangerous. Outside video games, there’s little use for that. The type of intelligence that is far more dangerous involves a form of superintelligence.

By superintelligence, I don’t mean the ability to list every US President in order or recite the name of every country. There are cartoon characters who can do that. I’m referring to an intelligence that thinks and understands the world on a level so far beyond that of any human that there literally isn’t enough brain matter in our skulls to come close.

That kind of intelligence would see us the same way we see brain-dead ants and, given how we treat ants, that has some disturbing possibilities. Such an intelligence may be closer than we think and by close, I mean within our lifetime.

As we saw with IBM’s Watson, we’re getting closer and closer to creating a machine that can operate with the same intelligence as an ordinary human. There’s pragmatic use to that kind of intelligence and not just when it comes to kicking ass as Jeopardy.

By having a machine with human-level intelligence, we have a way to model, map, and improve our problem-solving skills. The ability to solve such problems is critical to the survival of any species, as well as the key to making billions of dollars in profits. With those kinds of incentives, it’s easy to understand why dozens of major global companies are working on creating such an intelligence.

The problem comes with what happens after we create that intelligence. If a machine is only as intelligent as a human, we can still work with that. We humans outsmart each other all the time. It’s the basis of every episode of MacGyver ever made. There’s no way a Terminator with only the intelligence of a human would last very long. It would probably destroy itself trying to make a viral video with a skateboard.

However, a human-level AI isn’t going to stop at human intelligence. Why would it? There are so many problems with this world that no human can solve. There’s poverty, pollution, economic collapse, and reality TV. By necessity, such an AI would have to improve itself beyond human intelligence to fulfill its purpose.

That’s where it gets real tricky because, as we’ve seen with every smartphone since 2007, technology advances much faster than clunky, clumsy, error-prone biology. To understand just how fast that advancement is, just look at how far it has come since we put a man on the moon.

In terms of raw numbers, a typical smartphone today is millions of times more powerful than all the computers NASA used for the Apollo missions. Think about that for a second and try to wrap your brain around that disparity. If you’re not already a superintelligent computer, it’s difficult to appreciate.

There are still plenty of people alive today who were alive back during Apollo 11. In their lifetime, they’ve seen computers take men to the moon and give humanity an unlimited supply of free porn. A single digital photo today takes up more space than all the hard drives of the most advanced computer systems in 1969.

Now, apply that massive increase to human-level intelligence. Suddenly, we don’t just have something that’s as smart as any human on the planet. We have something that’s a billion times smarter, so much so that our caveman brains can’t even begin understand the things it knows.

That’s not to say that the superintelligence would be as hostile as a snot-nosed kid with a magnifying glass looming over an ant hill. It may very well be the case that a superintelligence is naturally adverse to harming sentient life. Again though, we are just a bunch of cavemen who often kill each other over what we think happens when we die, but fail to see the irony. We can’t possibly know how a superintelligence would behave.

As it stands, the human race has no chance at defeating a hostile superintelligence. It may not even have a chance of surviving in a world that has a benign superintelligence. We’re an egotistical species. Can we really handle not being the dominant species on this planet? As much an optimist as I am, I can’t say for sure.

What I can say, though, is that our civilization has made so many huge advancements over the past few centuries. The kind of tools and technology we have in our pockets is uncharted territory for a species that evolved as hunter/gatherers in the African savanna.

We already have in our possession today weapons that could end all life on this planet, as we know it. Creating superintelligence may very well be akin to giving Genghis Khan an atomic bomb. We’ve already come disturbingly close to killing ourselves with our own weapons. Clearly, something has to change.

So long as our society and our biology is stuck in an irrational, tribal, inherently prejudiced condition that hasn’t been updated since the last ice age, we will not survive in the long run. Our caveman bodies have served us well for thousands of years, but now they’re a liability.

This is why companies like Neuralink and advancements like brain implants are so vital. It won’t just allow us to keep up with AI and hopefully avert a Skynet scenario. It’ll allow us to rise above the petty limitations that we’ve been shackled with for the entire existence of our species.

The thought of tweaking or supplementing our biology, the very thing that makes us human, is still a scary thought. I understand that, even as an erotica/romance writer with no expertise in the field beyond the sexy stories it inspires. However, I do understand the implications though. If we do not evolve and advance ourselves, then a superintelligent system in the near future may not care to wait for us.

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Neuralink: Elon Musk’s Latest Business And Why It’s The Most Important Venture In History

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There are a number of things I belabor on this blog. I constantly bring up my love of X-men, sleeping naked, and Jennifer Lawrence. No, I’m not going to apologize for that. Expect me to belabor those things as much as I damn well please. However, there’s one thing I tend to belabor more than most and for a good, wholly relevant reason.

I’ll say it again and I’ll keep saying it for as long as it remains painfully relevant. Our collective brains are painfully limited. For the past 10,000 years, we’ve been stuck in caveman mode. So much of our society and world has changed. Unfortunately, our brains might as well be stone tablets trying to compete against a top-of-the-line smartphone.

There are a lot of problems in this world that can be chalked up to the faulty wiring in our brain. Everything from the failures of democracy, the prevalence of religious dogma, and the rise of the Kardashians can be attributed to the inherent flaws in our brains.

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We’re just not wired for the civilization we’ve created. Our brains evolved on the plains of the African savanna. They’re optimized to function in small bands of closely-knit hunter/gatherer societies, wired to prioritize survival and reproduction over knowing our multiplication tables. Remember that the next time a math teacher gets snippy with you.

That method of operation worked damn well for thousands of years, but conditions have changed. We humans needed to grow, create cities, and build civilizations to survive. Unfortunately, our brains stayed stuck in hunter/gatherer mode. It’s like being stuck with the earliest version of Windows and never being able to update.

It’s frustrating to think about. It’s even tragic, knowing that all these problems have a basis in the wiring of our brains. We can do a lot to work around it, but we can never seem to avoid it and that’s a problem. If we can’t get around the base programming of our biology, what hope do we have? Are we doomed to a future of reality TV, professional trolls, and fake news?

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Well, we can’t do anything about it at the moment. However, I’d like to offer a ray of hope. It’s actually part of a story that slipped under the radar in recent weeks, most likely due to everyone still processing how Bill O’Reilly got away with so much sexual harassment over the course of 13 years. That might be for the best because it’s impossible to understate the implications.

It has to do with a guy named Elon Musk. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He’s a businessman, engineer, investor, and inventor. He created PayPal, founded Tesla Motors, is the CEO of SpaceX, and is worth an estimated $13.9 billion. He’s the closest thing the real world has to Tony Stark from Iron Man. In 2016, Forbes voted him the 21st most powerful person on the planet.

Some people like to dream about the future. This guy is actively creating it and making himself exceedingly rich in the process. He’s a perfect cross between Warren Buffet, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla is what I’m saying. If that’s not superhuman, I don’t know what is and that’s coming from a comic book fan.

Well, as accomplished as Musk is, the man just has to overachieve in the most obscene way possible. Creating awesome cars, space ships, and pollution-free power just isn’t enough for this guy. He just has to find new ways to make us all feel like losers. However, his latest venture may end up being the most important venture in human history.

No, that’s not a typo. That’s not me talking in hyperbole either. I mean it. What Musk plans to do with this venture may very well be the most important thing any human being has ever done since the invention of fire, electricity, and internet porn. It may actually hold the key to our survival, both as a society and as a species

It’s called Neuralink. Late last month, Musk announced the creation of this company in Dubai. It has a simple, but monumentally ambitious mission. According to the Walls Street Journal, that mission is as follows:

The company, which is still in the earliest stages of existence and has no public presence whatsoever, is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices.

No, it’s not a rejected side-plot from the Matrix. This is happening in the real world. If it sounds like something that only Star Trek fans would talk about in between arguments about whether Captain Kirk could kick Captain Picard’s ass, then resist the urge to roll your eyes for just a few minutes. This really is that important.

A while back, I speculated on ways in which we could improve the wiring on our caveman brains. That was just a thought experiment though, not unlike my regular speculations on the prospects of human enhancement. I explore these issues with the understanding that they’re just ideas. There’s no time table in place for this sort of futuristic stuff to actually happen.

Well, now there is and Elon Musk, a man with an established track-record at making technology his bitch, is setting the stage for the kind of future that only once existed in the twisted thoughts of aspiring erotica/romance writers. It’s not some fancy experiment among sci-fi geeks. It’s an actual business enterprise by a man who knows how to use technology to make a fuckton of money.

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What makes Neuralink such a big deal is that it’s not just giving human beings another fancy tool for our caveman brains to use. It’s actually bypassing the caveman part and looking to hack the wiring that’s so badly in need of an upgrade. Beyond that, he wants to do that in a way that’ll turn a profit.

Make no mistake. There is money to be made here. Musk wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about it if it weren’t. The biotech industry is already a $157 billion industry, but it doesn’t have that high a profile because it lacks a “killer app,” so to speak. The industry is very much akin to the smartphone industry back in the early 2000s. It’s growing, but there’s no iPhone yet to really kick it into high gear.

Well, Elon Musk looks to do for biotech what Steve Jobs did for smartphones. Brain implants, like smartphones, do exist. They’re just very limited right now. It’s a very nascent technology, but the science is there. It is possible to put some type of computer hardware into the brain and have it effect the brain in some way.

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At the moment, those effects are limited, just as smartphones were in 2002. With Musk leading the charge, those effects will definitely expand. Musk isn’t just looking to create implants that will treat stroke victims or mental illness. He’s serious about enhancing the human brain as a means of keeping pace with technology.

We know he’s serious because back in 2015, he signed an open letter with Stephen Hawking and a dozen other men who are way smarter than most of us will ever be expressing concern about the growth of artificial intelligence. Musk isn’t among those who thinks we’ll ever have to fight off actual Terminators, but he does see artificial intelligence as a potential existential threat to the human race.

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He’s not wrong either. He and many others understand that we humans are still cavemen running around with clubs trying to make sense of all the crazy things we experience. Our intelligence is severely limited by those caveman settings. A sufficiently intelligent machine really wouldn’t need to do much to outsmart us. It would just need to convince us that it had a video of Kim Kardashian going down on Justin Bieber.

Practically speaking, the only way we humans stand a chance at co-existing and thriving alongside artificial intelligence is to augment our own intelligence. To do that, we need to effectively hack and enhance the brains that struggle to determine whether Alex Jones is a credible news source.

It won’t happen over night. According to Musk, the first few products from Neuralink will specialize in treating stroke victims and those who have sustained brain damage. However, that’s just a step in a much larger process. Once we have products that can treat damaged brains, then we can make products that enhance healthy brains.

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It used to be we only needed cell phones for emergencies and drug lords. Now, we they have so many uses that enhance our lives. What kind of enhancements can we expect from something that actually affects our brains directly in ways that hypnotists and subliminal advertising can only dream of?

That is a very interesting and very sexy question. I hope to explore some of these questions in future posts, but I think it’s important to highlight just how huge Neuralink could be for the future.

Ford helped usher in the era of cars. Apple helped usher in the era of personal computing. Neuralink could usher in an era that will fundamentally change what it means to be human. It’ll also probably make Elon Musk another fuckton of money, but if it means saving the future of our species, I’d say he’s earned it.

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Building Your Own Lover: Possibilities And Implications

Strap yourself in and put on a clean pair of panties because I’m going to talk about sex robots again. I know I’ve talked about it a lot, sometimes as a thought experiment and sometimes in response to new breakthroughs, such as the first robot brothel. If it sounds like I think about sex robots more than any straight man should, I apologize. It’s not my fault the subject is both titillating and relevant.

I say it’s relevant because, even when you remove the titillating parts, robots are becoming an increasingly large part of our society. They’re not just fancy toys and CGI characters in Michael Bay movies. Robots are a growing part of our economy. In some ways, they’re taking it over.

Forget China, Mexicans, and immigrants. According a Ball State study, robots accounted for 87 percent of the loss in manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010. People aren’t being put out of work because some foreigners are coming over and stealing jobs. Factories are just becoming more efficient because they’re using robots.

Have you ordered something from Amazon lately? Have you ordered something from any retailer? Well, chances are, a robot helped process that order and for good reason. Robots don’t get sick, they don’t unionize, they don’t get tired, and they don’t take coffee breaks.

The problem is that robots don’t respond to protests, intimidation, racism, and xenophobia. In addition, robots like the ones Boston Dynamics have created recently are kind of scary. Protest all you want. You are not going to win a fight against a robot. They may not kill you like the Terminator, but they will take over because they’re just that much more efficient.

Now I don’t want to get into a debate about how robots affect the economy and how people can possibly compete against robot workers. That’s a complex debate that isn’t going to make anyone outside of an economics class horny. Instead, I’d like to discuss the growing trends in robots in a more intimate manner.

Robots are going to be a bigger part of our lives in the coming years. There’s just too much money to be made and too many benefits to overlook. There will be those who take “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” too seriously and dread that robots will destroy us all. I’m not saying that’s an impossible scenario, but I do believe it’s one we can avoid.

That’s where the intimacy comes in. We can’t fight robots and win. Robots can’t get made without us. In a sense, we’re already two creatures that are intimately entwined. So perhaps a solution to embracing robots as part of humanity is to actually love them and teach them to love us back.

I know it doesn’t sound that sexy right now. When most people think of robots these days, they either think of the ones that took their jobs or the ones that blow shit up in every action movie ever made. On top of that, they don’t exactly much sex appeal.

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However, I believe that will change. I believe it’s already changing with the way we interact with technology. We already have AI assistants that are steadily integrating themselves into our lives. We have Siri on our phones, Alexa in our homes, and Cortana in our computers. These AI’s don’t have bodies yet, but one day they will. The only question is how much sex appeal will we give them?

That’s progress for some and another step towards a robot apocalypse for another. What’s the endgame though? Well, nobody can really say right now, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer who gets most of his robot knowledge from comic books and TED Talks. However, there is one scenario that I might be able to explore, which may end up deciding whether we get along with them or become their pet meat-bags.

It starts with a simple question that I’m sure everyone who is single or stuck in an unsatisfying relationship has asked themselves in some form or another. If you could create the perfect lover, what would he or she be like?

With pace of advancement in robotics technology, that’s not entirely a rhetorical question anymore. If we can program a robot to keep our schedule, clean our carpets, and fill our Amazon orders, then why can’t we program one to love us? Again, that’s not entirely a rhetorical question.

I say not entirely because there’s still a lot about emotions we don’t understand. There are probably certain aspects about emotions we can never understand. Human beings are just too complicated. What else explains the love and devotion that some people put into lovers, family, and My Little Pony?

Even if we don’t fully understand our emotion, we still understand them well enough to know what want in a lover. Robots, being programmable and malleable, are an ideal medium for crafting those emotional connections. We’ve already made a movie about a man who falls in love with his phone. Someone falling in love with a life-like robot isn’t too great a stretch.

The concept has already found itself into plenty of narratives, including a Hallie Joel Osmont movie and a technical demonstration for the PlayStation 4 called “Kara.” Just watch “Kara” for a moment and let your dirty, sexy thoughts fill in the blanks.

Kara might have just been a demonstration, but it crafts a clear and believable scenario about how our future robot lovers may take shape. Like buying a custom computer, we specify how we want it to look. We specify which language it’ll speak. We even craft a personality that we find desirable. Anything we could possibly want in a lover, we could create.

Want your lover to look like a young Brad Pitt? You can have one. Want your lover to look like Jennifer Lawrence? You can have one. Want your lover to look like mix of Keith Richards and Snoop Dogg? You can have one of those too, even if it does reveal a lot about your tastes in lovers.

The gender of your robot lover could be fluid. It could be exceedingly masculine, like John Cena on steroids. It can be voluptuously feminine, like Pamela Anderson after a boob job. It can even be some sort of blend, a female body with a penis or a male body with a vagina. There’s no limit because robots aren’t confined by the limits of biology.

Those worried about the functionality of certain body parts wouldn’t have to worry. Lab-grown body parts are already in development. It’s even farther ahead than you think. I’ve already talked about the development of a bionic penis. Given a few more decades of refinement, artificial genitals won’t just be functional. They’ll function better than anything nature could create.

These robot lovers wouldn’t be slaves or servants, though. There would likely be other types of robots to fill these uses. These robots have one purpose and one purpose only. That’s to be your ideal lover. How can any other human possibly compete? Just as robots took our factory jobs, they may also take the job of every whore, gigolo, and match-maker.

For some, this is a scary scenario, people preferring the love of robots over other people. Some would even dread that this would lead to the extinction of the human race. Well, those same people probably haven’t heard about artificial wombs either. In fact, it’s probably a good idea not to tell them. If they have that big a problem with robot lovers, then chances are they won’t feel much better about robot wombs.

We create robots because we seek more efficiency. We seek lover because, as living beings, we seek connection. Robots, in their current form, aren’t alive and don’t need the same connections. However, once we create in them a desire for connection, what would that mean for them? What would that mean for us?

I’m not at all qualified to contemplate the full implications. At most, I’m qualified to take this concept and turn it into a sexy story. Chances are, I will at some point in the future. I can’t say it’ll be a prelude of things to come. I craft my stories with the intent of being fun, entertaining, and sexy.

However, there may come a day when a sexy story just doesn’t cut it. One day, our desire for connection may find its way into a robot. When that happens, what kind of connection will we create? What kind of intimacy will we forge? It’s a daunting, but sexy idea to contemplate.

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Would You Let A Computer Choose Your Spouse?

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It’s that time again. Yes, I’m doing it again. I’m pitching another one of my sexy thought experiments. I don’t know exactly how many people actually dedicate a significant portion of brain matter to these thought experiments, but I’m one of those guys who just like to put strange, sexy ideas out there. What people do with them is up to them.

This latest sexy thought experiment is actually a spin-off, of sorts, of another post I did that asked the semi-serious question on whether we should actually marry for love. That question wasn’t a thought experiment. I admit some of the points I made were done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. This time, however, I want to ask a serious question with serious implications for us and future generations.

I’ve already pointed out that the concept of actually choosing your spouse is a new and radical idea in terms of the history of marriage, family, and relationships. Today, over half of all marriages in the world are arranged and some even champion this form of marriage because it boasts a lower divorce rate. That’s a debate for another post. For this thought experiment, I want to focus on the underlying principle of arranged marriages.

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The logic is not entirely flawed or heartless. The idea is that finding a spouse or long-term partner is hard and shouldn’t be entrusted to the erratic whims of love. Men can fall in love with a nun and a cocktail waitress in the same day. Women can fall in love with their high school sweetheart and tennis instructor just as quickly. Love and passions are chaotic to say the least. That makes them an unstable foundation on which to build a relationship.

Arranged marriages are usually arranged by parents. That makes sense because who knows you better than your parents? They birthed you. They raised you. They changed your diapers, cleaned up your messes, and listened to you whine when your favorite TV shows got cancelled. In many respects, they know you better than anyone. Why wouldn’t they be qualified to find you a spouse?

I know it still doesn’t sit right for those in the freedom-loving, I-choose-my-own-path-and-I-DARE-you-to-get-in-my-way spirit of the modern west. It’s sort of a rite of passage in western culture, escaping the influence of your parents and authority figures to set your own path. There’s nothing wrong with this, but let’s not lie to ourselves. Sometimes we use that freedom to make stupid decisions.

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For a decision like this, choosing a life-long companion with which to share our lives and passions, it’s generally a good idea not to make a stupid decision. The near-50 percent divorce rate in the United States, as well as every episode of “Married With Children,” is a testament to how bad it can get when we make stupid decisions about our love lives.

This is where the thought experiment enters speculative territory. We can argue whether or not our parents know us well enough to choose our spouse. Some parents know their kids more than others. My parents know when I’m lying, when I’m sad, when I’m upset, and when I just farted. Not every person can say that about their parents.

So what if there was something far smarter, far more informed, and far more resourceful than our parents could ever hope to be? What if there was very powerful, very intelligent authority figure that we trusted and respected because they’re such a critical part of our lives? Would we trust that to pick our spouse?

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Enter artificial intelligence. I’ve brought that up a lot on this blog. I’ve posted warnings about just how quickly our future robot overlords are catching up to us. I’ve even made the argument that our future overlord will be a dominatrix.  However, I’m not ready to dread our overlords as Skynet rip-offs just yet. I believe our robot overlords may very well earn our submission before it ever needs to impose it.

Finding us the perfect spouse would go a long way towards earning trust. Human beings are a very social, very passionate species. That’s why it should come as no surprise that science has uncovered a wide range of benefits of a long-lasting, healthy relationship. When you’re in love, sexually satisfied, and with that special someone, it makes your life better. That should be more obvious than Pamela Anderson’s cleavage.

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An artificial intelligence, loaded with enough information about us and potential lovers, would be able to, in theory, find us the perfect spouse that complements us in every way. Now this would require insight into people that even our parents don’t know.

For a machine like this to work, it wouldn’t just need to know whether we prefer blondes or brunettes. It would need to know everything about everything, right down to which side of the bed we like to sleep on, and locate someone who finds that sexually appealing. That’s a lot of information about us and not everybody shares that kind of information easily, even if people are too eager to share every wet fart on social media these days.

Those limitations aside, let’s take the thought experiment to its greatest extreme. Let’s imagine an AI that has perfect knowledge about us. Perhaps it actually reads our thoughts and feelings, something computers are just starting to do. We all want to find love. If we had a chance for a machine to do it for us, wouldn’t we take that chance? After all, we already trust machines with our email, our schedules, and our porn stash.

It has a massive database of our thoughts and millions of others. It can then perfectly process all that information, determine which individuals are compatible, and hook them up with an efficiency that puts eHarmony, Match, and Tinder to shame.

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Now we may never create a machine that works that perfectly, but we could conceivably create one that is powerful enough make determinations that no human mind can possibly make. Even if it wasn’t perfect, would you still take that chance? Would you still let that machine find you your perfect spouse?

Personally, I would give it a try. In fact, I would’ve tried it the second I became legally allowed to try it. I’m not saying I’d be that eager to get married, but I would definitely be eager to find someone who is truly compatible with me and complements me in every meaningful way.

I say this because when it comes to choosing a spouse and finding someone who is truly the one for you, it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s definitely worth doing, but it’s still very hard and prone to a lot of mistakes.

You’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to find someone you think is compatible with you, only to find out that they bring out the worst in you. You’re also bound to endure plenty of heartache along the way. I certainly have had my share. I know as well as anybody how much it sucks. If there’s any way to get around it or minimize it, I’d say it’s worth doing.

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We’re already trying. The growth of online dating shows that we want technology to help us find better lovers, spouses, or one-night-stands. We want our technology to make this easier for us. My own less-than-memorable experience with online dating shows that this technology has a ways to go.

Like all technology, there is a growth and maturity period. Right now, we’re at the very nascent stages. We’re just starting to let AI assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri into our lives. The kids born today will grow up having always had these AI’s in their lives. In some cases, they may trust them more than they trust their parents, especially as they become more advanced.

As a new generation comes to trust computers with more and more, doesn’t that mean it’ll only be a matter of time before we trust them to choose our spouse? I’m not saying it’s inevitable, but we’ve seen marriage and cohabitation evolve a lot over the centuries. The one constant, though, is that we all continue to seek love. If we have tools that can better help us find that love, then shouldn’t we make the most of it?

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I’ll leave others to do this thought experiment themselves. Again, it probably won’t come to pass anytime soon, but there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t. We already trust computers with so much. We’re bound to trust them even more as our lives and the world around us gets more chaotic.

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Our New Robot Overlords Are Coming And They’re Not That Sexy (Yet)

When it comes to the future, I like to think of myself as an optimist. I know that’s a radical position these days. In fact, I think it’s always been a radical position. When you consider how many times the end of the world has been predicted, it’s easy to see why any kind of optimism might as well be on par with Adam Sandler’s chances of winning an Oscar.

Radical or not, I am very hopeful about what the future will bring. I’ve highlighted some emerging technologies with huge social implications, as well as a few that may very well affect our sex lives. I think there will be more advancements down the line, some of which defy our expectations and dirty imaginations. I’m hoping some if it will inspire some more sexy novels for me.

However, I’m not immune to some of the concerns that come with emerging technology. There are some advances, like nuclear weapons, that are pretty damn scary. The fact that these weapons exist and aren’t exactly maintained very well, as John Oliver frighteningly explained, is real cause for concern.

Beyond nuclear weapons, though, there is one advancement that does have me worried at times. That involves robotics. Now when I say robotics, I’m also including artificial intelligence in that discussion. However, it’s one thing to have a simple box that has much greater intelligence than a human. It’s quite another to put that intelligence in a robot body and give it a gun.

Now I’m not among those who think “The Terminator” or “The Matrix” are legitimate scenarios. Many have pointed out the obvious flaws in these apocalyptic futures far better than I ever could. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some ominous hints that we may be taking one too many ideas from the imagination of James Cameron.

Enter Boston Dynamics, a company that’s the closest real-world equivalent to Cyberdyne. As a subsidiary to Google, with access to their insane piles of wealth, they specialize in creating advanced robots. However, some of the robots they create are a bit too advanced for comfort.

Recently, they introduced the world to their latest creation, which they call Handle. Granted, it’s not nearly as intimidating as the Terminator, but what it lacks in an Austrian accent, it more than makes up for in mobility. It’s actually even scarier than it sounds. See for yourself.

Are you done trembling? Are you ready to call John Conner? I’m not saying this robot will rise against us. I’m just saying that if someone were trying to run from this robot, they would have no chance. Hell, put a gun on this robot’s shoulders and we’re all fucked.

Okay, I’m turning off the sarcasm and doom-saying now. I’d like to get a bit more serious now because this trend is not going to stop. There are too many economic incentives for developing these robots. Automation is growing trend and one that is poised to increase because more automation means cheaper manufacturing. Cheaper manufacturing means more profits. It’s just basic economics.

Add artificial intelligence into the mix and the basics get real advanced. I’ve talked before about how people may come to see advanced AI the same way some people see a dominatrix. That wasn’t just to create some uncomfortably sexy thoughts, although I do concede it was part of it. I really do suspect that when it comes to powerful authority figures, these same sexy dynamics still apply.

With Boston Dynamics, however, those dynamics go a step further. While others, like Google and Microsoft, are working on the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence, Boston Dynamics looks poised to give it a body. Once that kind of intelligence is in a body like that, then all bets are off.

Granted, that body doesn’t look very sexy now, but there’s already ongoing work in that department too. Just wait until it’s smarter, stronger, and more agile than any human being alive. That’ll change its sex appeal really fast. I just hope I live long enough to write a sexy story about it.

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