Tag Archives: emerging technology

A Second Sexual Revolution: The Potential (And Inevitable) Backlash

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Think back to brief, but memorable time between elementary and middle school where kids are still kids for the most part. It’s the time before you develop concerns about things like acne and hiding awkward boners during gym class. It’s a time before the girls start wearing thongs or hiding bra straps. For some, those times have fond memories.

Often, during these times, you’ll encounter one of those annoying little shits who likes to think of him or herself as the class clown. You know how they operate. They’re loud, annoying, obnoxious, arrogant, and will set their own hair on fire if it gets attention. They might have been funny the first few times, but it doesn’t take long for them to be a walking source of frustration.

Teachers, parents, and counselors do anything and everything they can to get the kid to shut up, but nothing works. Every time they push him, he just pushes back harder. Every time they react to his antics, he reacts even more. Since he’s a kid, he can sort of get away with it.

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What I just described is a testament to how kids can be annoying little shits and what happens when our efforts to fix a situation ends up causing a backlash. It’s one of those things that happens almost as much in real life as it does in bad sitcoms. For every time Peter Griffin’s antics in “Family Guy” backfires horribly, there’s a real-life class clown in a public school ensuring everything around him backfires just as badly.

We don’t just see it in elementary school classrooms and Seth MacFarlane shows either. Throughout history, backlashes have shaped the course of events, from the ancient world to modern presidents who think randomly invading a Middle Eastern country won’t cause any geopolitical problems.

It’s not unreasonable to say that many events and cultural movements are very much a backlash at those that preceded it. It’s how dynasties rise and fall. It’s how religious and cultural movements morph into cults and denominations. It’s even how some successful TV shows inspire spin-offs. Not all of these backlashes result in improvements, but they are very much a part of how people, cultures, and nations evolve.

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This brings me back to the prospect of a second sexual revolution. Admit it, you knew I was going to get to this. It was only a matter of time before I tied the concept of a backlash into something sexy. I would’ve gotten to it sooner, but I wanted to establish a context. It’s necessary because in every cultural upheaval, it’s easy to lose perspective.

The problem is that we don’t know just how much perspective we’ve lost until we have the benefit of hindsight. It’s like getting blackout drunk and waking up in another city with a donkey, a dildo, and a dead gerbil in your bed. You remember starting the night with good intentions and having a great time. Somewhere along the way, though, something went horribly wrong.

When we look at the context of the sexual revolution in the 60s, we can see how backlash shaped its promising beginnings and how it got blackout drunk towards the end. I’ve mentioned how technology like antibiotics and contraception reshaped sexuality by effectively removing some of the consequences and barriers to sexual expression. There are other, less tangible factors in play as well.

We know from 50s sitcoms that the period before the sexual revolution was a tough time to be really horny. The 1950s was a time of rigid sexual conformity. Anything outside of marriage, procreation, and the missionary position was considered a deviant social ill. Things like masturbation, the female orgasm, and Elvis’ hips were all taboo.

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This kind of sexual restraint went so far that an emerging generation of horny youth decided to spit all over that prudish culture. Armed with modern antibiotics, contraception, and mind-altering drugs that made orgasms easier to enjoy, they really went for broke. They didn’t just push the envelope. They bombed it with napalm and buried it in horse shit.

Ironically, they went so far that they incurred a backlash just as strong as the one they led. That led to the rise of people like Jerry Fawell, Pat Robertson, and the Moral Majority, people and organizations who went full fire and brimstone after seeing one too many mud-soaked hippie orgies. Add this on top of the emergence of issues like abortion and diseases like AIDS and it’s easy to see why everyone’s panties got a little tighter.

In both cases, one backlash incurred another. One extreme led to another. Even today, we may be seeing another backlash from a general loosening of sexual freedom again, but it’s just taking the form of political correctness and reactionary outrage over issues as trivial as a swimsuit ad.

These days, you won’t be shunned if you have premarital sex or watch porn in your spare time. However, you’re in big trouble if you don’t understand the increasingly esoteric concept of consent, directly or indirectly body shame women, or want to draw a female character wearing sexy clothes.

Every trend, especially the sexy kinds, seem unstoppable at first. That’s why it’s become popular to urge others to be “on the right side of history.” That’s an exceedingly vague excuse, as is often the case with excuses in general, but it lays the foundation for a future backlash.

I’d say any second sexual revolution should take that into account, but I know that would just be empty rhetoric. Backlash is something that no revolution, movement, or reformation can truly take into account. Being flawed humans with flawed brains, we tend to overestimate the staying power of any trend. Just ask anyone who was ever part of a boy band not named Justin Timberlake.

A second sexual revolution, like the one that occurred in the 60s, will likely shock, horrify, and excite. Those are the key ingredients of every revolution or movement. They’re so different. They get peoples’ attention because it doesn’t fit with their idea of normal and, much like our annual failure to keep our New Years Resolution, people cling desperately to their sense of normal and resist change at every turn.

A second sexual revolution may involve anything from group marriages to sex robots to gender-bending orgies in public parks. It’s impossible to predict where our collective libidos will take us. It is possible, if not inevitable, that there will be some kind of backlash along the way. When change happens that fast, people get really stressed out and people do crazy things when they’re stressed.

There are all sorts of ways that a second sexual revolution can manifest. I don’t want to make too many predictions. I’d rather save those sexy contemplations for one of my future novels. I will, however, throw in one last complications that may make the next revolution unique from every other revolution in human history.

No matter how extreme or kinky a revolution was in the past, including Victorian England, there was one common theme. They were all driven by the crude and horny whims of our caveman brains, whose wiring hasn’t been upgraded in over 100,000 years. It’s like constantly changing the rules of the game, but never changing the equipment.

Advances in biotechnology and brain enhancement, such as that being planned by Neuralink, may completely change the dynamics of human thought and society. The same forces that incurred backlashes in the past might not be a factor anymore. People may very well be an entirely new way of dealing with a new sexual revolution.

Again, it’s impossible to predict. As soon as we start tweaking our brains and upgrading our biology, all bets are off. History and hindsight are no longer accurate guides with which to understand the course of society. The potential of another sexual revolution is vast, but the potential for backlash is every bit as big.

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Update On Artificial Wombs And Potential Obstacles

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Earlier this year, I talked about the promise of artificial wombs and how they could be the ultimate solution to abortion, gender inequality, and stretch marks. At a time when abortion laws are becoming increasingly controversial and people are protesting gender inequality in major cities, I think that promise is becoming increasingly important.

As it stands, though, the science behind artificial wombs is still very young. It may be one of those technologies that doesn’t get perfected within our lifetimes, but then again the pace of technology is wildly unpredictable. Remember, your smartphone is a million times more powerful than every computer at NASA in 1969. Technology can sneak up on us is what I’m saying.

Artificial wombs probably won’t advance at the same pace as smart phones, if only because they involve women’s body parts and we’re always a bit more careful/awkward when it comes to women’s body parts. However, that doesn’t keep the technology from advancing.

Just last month, doctors in Philadelphia were able to bring a premature lamb to term using a special fluid-filled bag that mimicked the conditions of a womb. The baby lamb was able to develop and eventually survive on its own outside the bag. By all accounts, the lambs developed normally.

It’s not a full-blown artificial womb, but it’s an important step. The lambs in this case weren’t entirely grown in the womb. They were placed in the bag just 105 days after conception, which is akin to a human fetus being 22 weeks into its 40-week gestation period.

That means that, if applied to humans, more prematurely-born infants could survive to term. On top of that, if there’s a complication with the mother’s health, she needs to only endure half a pregnancy before transferring the fetus to one of these units. Her life will be saved. The baby’s life will be saved. Given how many children die due to premature birth, this is a technology that could potentially save countless lives.

Then, as the technology improves, it will eventually reach the point where a child can develop entirely within an artificial womb. There’s no need for a woman to endure any pregnancy at all. The extent to which that would change our society, from gender issues to sexuality, cannot be overstated.

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That technology is still a ways off, but we’re literally halfway there. Depending on how the pace of advancement will change, due to financial and regulatory pressures, it’s hard to say whether it’ll happen in my lifetime. However, it will happen. There’s just too much appeal to not having to endure nine months of pregnancy.

That leads me to a personal story that occurred recently while I was meeting with some family friends. It’s a story that highlights one of the biggest issues that artificial wombs would have and it has nothing to do with the technology.

Recently, a close relative of mine had a child. It was a joyous occasion for the entire family. I was certainly happy. I’ve had a chance to see that child grow it’s been a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

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It has also led to a number of discussions about the rigors of pregnancy. Many women in my family have their share of stories about what it was like to grow another human inside them over a nine-month period. Some of those stories were funny. Some of them made me cringe in ways I usually reserve for a dentist appointment.

At one point in that discussion, though, I brought up artificial wombs. I asked them if they had the option of having their child, but without going through the rigors of pregnancy, would they do it? After the stories they described, I thought at least some would jump at the chance. However, none of them did.

It’s true. Every woman I asked said they would still endure nine months of hardship for their child. That surprised me because it hints at the mentality women feel when it comes to bearing their children. As uncomfortable and inconvenient as it is, they still go through it and would do it again for their children. That says a lot about a mother’s love.

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It also hints that the prospect of using artificial wombs in lieu of pregnancy might not catch on, even after the technology is perfected. Even if an artificial womb is healthier, safer, and cheaper than natural birth, there may still be women who opt for the old fashioned way of baby-making.

This isn’t just someone who still opts to use a flip-phone over a smartphone. This is someone who is willing to put their bodies through a rigorous process that technology may very well make obsolete. What does that say about the human mindset, specifically those of women when they bear children?

Could this be a mentality that’s hardwired into our brains? Could this also be a product of people not keeping up with the times? Perhaps younger generations would be more willing to use an artificial womb over natural birth. Cultural attitudes may affect it as well. It may very well be the case that being a woman and not giving birth creates an identity crisis of sorts.

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It’s hard to tell at the moment because the technology is so new. It hasn’t even been used on humans yet, but that is going to happen soon, if only to ensure that premature babies survive. After that, there may be a shift in cultural attitudes. If the technology advances rapidly, it may lead to genuine conflict. In that sense, maybe Aldous Huxley, was onto something when he wrote “Brave New World.”

Maybe my family is unique in their attitudes towards natural birth. Maybe this is a question that we’re not ready to answer yet. Maybe it’s one I’ll ask again at another family gathering, if only to see if their attitudes have changed.

Technology changes societies. Some incur more change than others, as the inventor of ski masks can attest. However, we’ve never had a technology that changes how we actually propagate our species. That puts artificial wombs in a special, uncharted territory. What it means for us and the children we bear remains to be seen.

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The Future (And Caveman Past) Of Privacy

Let’s face it. There are just some things in the modern world that are destined to disappear. Things like coal power, overt racial discrimination, and the Macarena are destined to become relics of a bygone era. Some already have to some extent. Others, like snail mail, poor WiFi, and the Kardashians, can’t go away soon enough.

So what does this have to do with privacy? Why am I even bringing up privacy? Is this another case of an erotica/romance writer having a few too many glasses of whiskey when he writes? Well, except for the whiskey part, those questions already have answers.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been talking about the emerging technologies that will allow brain-to-brain communication. Like an updated iPhone, it’s one of those technologies that we know is coming. It’s just a matter of getting here and having a major company profit the hell out of it.

You may not think it’s likely now, but at some point someone will find a way to make sharing thoughts an obscenely profitable business. We get people to pay for bottled water and a haunted rubber duck. There are plenty of gullible people with money in this society is what I’m saying.

Going back to privacy, it’s fairly obvious that we’re already in the process of ditching it to some extent. It used to be that the craziest, dumbest, most asinine stuff we said in our day-to-day lives never left our close circle of friends. Now, we feel compelled to share all those crazy thoughts online.

Look at me. I’m doing that right now. I’m sharing thoughts I never would’ve shared in polite conversation 20 years ago. Then again, 20 years ago I had a horrible acne problem and the piss-poor social skills of a ferret so it’s not like I was in a position to do much sharing. The internet and social media has changed all that. It’s given us an opportunity to kick our concepts of privacy in the balls and beat it with a hammer into something else.

This has had consequences. Just ask anyone who had an Ashley Madison account a few years ago. It’s bound to have more consequences, especially as an emerging generation matures into a world that has never known the pain of dial-up internet. This is a generation for whom sexting will be akin to copping a feel in the back seat of a car. Admit it. You envy that generation to some degree.

However, it’s the generation after that who may really deliver the final nail in the coffin of privacy. That generation will likely come into a world where brain-to-brain communication has matured, is a growing business, and has people bitching about fees for sharing certain thoughts. How will that generation view privacy?

Well for once, we really don’t need a thought experiment or some exercise in existential logic. In fact, we need only a history book and a general understanding of how humans form tribes. Go to any message board that celebrates a certain romantic pairing on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” It doesn’t take much.

Nature has wired our bodies to be good at a lot of things, albeit in hilariously crude ways. Just look at the design of the male scrotum. However, one design that has been remarkably efficient is our ability to form tribes and groups. It’s that kind of coordination and cooperation that has helped us dominate this planet, build civilizations, and form Hugh Jackman fan clubs.

It’s also this uncanny ability to form tribes that’ll make the techno-telepathy of brain-to-brain communication so appealing to future generations. It may seem crazy now to those of us who still dread the thought of someone hacking our phones and sharing all the embarrassing pictures of us on FaceBook. I’ve always worked under the assumption that someone has already hacked my phone and that keeps me from capturing anything too compromising in my private moments.

However, with techno-telepathy, there’s nothing left to compromise. Everything is laid out for someone else to see. Your hopes, dreams, fears, and perverse sexual fantasies are all laid out in a beautifully rendered image. Can we even cope with that kind of transparency?

Well, the average congressperson notwithstanding, we have kind of done it before. In fact, we had that kind of transparency for a good chunk of human history. This brings me back to “Sex At Dawn,” a book that has been remarkably useful in discussing such sexy, taboo topics. In addition to talking about the shapes of penises and female orgasms, it does talk about privacy.

Granted, it’s not as sexy as the other topics discussed, but it is relevant in that it explores the pre-interent, pre-agriculture concepts of privacy. In short, there was none. In fact, from a purely practical standpoint, there couldn’t be any privacy.

That’s because those societies were hunter/gatherer societies. These societies were small, close-knit tribes of people who worked together, cooperated, and shared resources to survive. This is not some hippie commune out of John Lennon fantasy. These were very functional, very adaptive groups that played a big part in how human beings evolved.

In those societies, privacy is kind of redundant because they need to share resources. They don’t have big cities or elaborate infrastructure. They need to cooperate or they won’t survive. Part of cooperation means being overly transparent. That means sharing shelter, living space, food, and lovers. Yes, sharing can be sexy. It just comes at the cost of privacy. Some may think that’s a fair trade.

When you don’t have a lot of property or resources of your own, what’s the point of privacy? It’s not that it’s ignored. It’s not that it doesn’t exist to some degree. It’s just redundant in a hunter/gatherer setting. Keep in mind though, it’s in this setting that our species evolved. For the caveman in us, privacy is more a construct than an innate trait.

That’s because our concept or privacy really didn’t exist until the modern concept of property rights emerged. The concept of a public/private sphere is a fairly modern invention. Again, it’s largely out of necessity. When you have a society that relies heavily on accumulating and distributing resources on a large scale, the need for some measure of privacy is unavoidable, if only to avoid extortion and exploitation.

This is where the techno-telepathy of brain-to-brain communication really gets interesting. Whereas modern notions of privacy are relatively recent, less private habits of our cavemen ancestors are still hardwired into our tribal traits. That means the growth of techno-telepathy could be one of those tools actually complements our caveman nature rather instead of conflicting with it.

What could this mean for us as individuals and as a society? What could it mean for our love lives? Well, if our history as hunter/gatherers is any indication, this tool would make it far easier for us to form telepathic tribes, of sorts. We find people who appreciate and share our thoughts. We develop close bonds with those people. Some may even become romantic and sexual. When you’re sharing your most intimate thoughts with people, that’s kind of inevitable.

It could be disruptive or it could be productive for society. When we start sharing both literal and figurative thoughts with one another, privacy as we know it will take on a whole new meaning. It won’t disappear completely. It’ll just change. We’re terrified of sharing naked pictures of ourselves now. How will we feel when we start sharing are deepest, dirtiest, sexiest thoughts?

It’s an interesting notion to consider and one I hope to see play out in the coming decades. I have a feeling it’ll give me plenty of sexy ideas for future novels.

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Sharing Thoughts: The Ultimate Intimacy?

What would you do if you could share your most intimate thoughts directly with your lover? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s not another one of my sexy thought experiments either. It’s a real, honest question that may end up having major implications in the real world.

I like to keep up with technology. I’ve always been interested in what the future holds. However, I’m one of those guys who likes to contemplate how this future technology will impact our sex lives. It’s not just because it makes for some crazy sexy thoughts. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, it helps give me new ideas. Some have already found their way into my novels, namely “Skin Deep.”

So why does something like sharing thoughts seem so relevant? It’s not like it’s a new idea. Sharing thoughts, or telepathy as some call it, is already a major part of popular culture. From movies like “Inception” to iconic superheroes like Charles Xavier from the X-men, it’s just one of those fun concepts that makes for interesting plots, but doesn’t exactly surprise anyone anymore.

That could change one day though. In fact, that day may come sooner than you think. Brain-to-brain communication, or techno-telepathy if you want to call it that, has been under development for a long time now. It’s not just so we can share our dirtiest fantasies, including those that involve clowns and steel dildos. There are major medical applications to this concept.

Earlier this year, the first major tests in brain-to-brain communication allowed two humans to exchange thoughts, albeit in a very limited fashion, to answer a series of yes-or-no questions. This isn’t David Blaine playing mind games with card tricks. These are ordinary people using extraordinary technology to share thoughts. For those trapped in comas or paralyzed by strokes, this technology is critical.

While I’m all for helping those in comas or those who are paralyzed communicate, I think the larger implications of techno-telepathy are more enticing, especially when applied to our love lives. All technology starts out bulky, expensive, and limited at first. Then, once it matures and people realize it has profitable, non-medical uses, it gets more compact and efficient. It happened with smartphones. It can happen with techno-telepathy.

This technology may still be a ways towards maturing, but it’s no longer something that’s just on the drawing board. This technology has already come out of the womb and is starting to grow. All the incentives are there. It’s just a matter of time and energy.

So going back to my original question, what would you do if it were possible to share your intimate thoughts with another? What kind of thoughts would you share? Would it make you and your partner closer? Would it make them run away in disgust, traumatized that anyone could think about their old history teacher in that sort of way?

Granted, there may be some awkward moments. The entire first half of the movie “What Women Want” explores those moments. However, we humans are capable of overcoming awkwardness. If we can overcome puberty, we can overcome pretty much very kind of awkwardness that doesn’t involve our mothers and the delivery guy.

There’s also a pragmatic element to sharing thoughts with someone. Poor communication is one of the quickest ways to kill a romance that doesn’t involve bankruptcy. Poor communication, or a failure to understand the context of someone’s words, isn’t just damaging to our love lives. It’s basically the plot to half of every episode of every sitcom and romance movie ever made.

It happens so often that we think it’s normal. Two people are in love. They want to build a relationship. They struggle because someone says something that gets taken the wrong way. They can’t be sure what they meant or how they meant it so they get all upset and agitated about it. Hilarity, heartache, and entertainment follow, usually culminating in some big romantic speech by Hugh Grant at the end.

Pretty much all of that crap could be avoided if those involved could just share their thoughts. There would be no ambiguity. There would be no doubt, uncertainty, or reservation.

Imagine a relationship where you knew your partner really loved you. They weren’t trying to get your money. They weren’t trying to impress their parents. They weren’t secretly gay or bisexual. They just really love you and you didn’t have to doubt that. What would that mean for your relationship and others like you?

If we live in a world where we can share our most intimate thoughts, then would that strengthen our romantic bonds? Would that reduce the amount of stagnant, passionless relationships? Would it also necessarily undermine the privacy of our thoughts?

These are all important questions to contemplate, especially for those of the coming generation who already share so much of themselves on social media. Is this the natural evolution of intimacy and romance? Only time will tell. I just hope I can turn it into some sexy stories before then.

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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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The Future Of Contraception (For Men)

There are some technological advancements that are exceedingly overdue. It’s easy to be caught off-guard by some advancements. Who the hell besides “Star Trek” and “The Simpsons” would’ve thought that advances like smart-phones and farm simulators would’ve caught on?

These kinds of advances are nice/shocking/annoying surprises. However, there are some enhancements that seriously need to happen for society to fix a major problem. I’m not talking about nuclear fusion, flying cars, jet packs, or sex robots though, although there has been some recent development in that field. I’m talking about male birth control.

Like nuclear fusion and a “Fantastic Four” movie that doesn’t suck, this is one of those advancements that science has been working on for decades now. Unfortunately, progress has been slow, regressive, or non-existent in some cases. At the same time, however, options for female birth control have only grown, so much so that the amount of choices is almost on part with the flavors of potato chips.

So what’s the hold-up? Why is science dragging its feet here and keeping the burden of contraception solely on the backs of women? Well, before all the radical feminists out there break out their pitchforks and bullhorns, take a deep breath and calm down. It has nothing to do with some vast, misogynistic conspiracy perpetrated by the patriarchy. It’s just a matter of human biology.

The basic science of contraception is simple. There are dozens of steps that go into making a pregnancy happen. All contraception has to do to be effective is stop just one. That’s easy for women because it only involves stopping a single cell, namely the ovum. You can stop it with hormones. You can stop it with implants. In biological terms, it’s relatively easy because it’s one cell. It’s the science equivalent of fighting zombies with a tank.

For men, it’s a bit trickier. It’s akin to trying to hit a barrage of baseballs the size of marbles with an undersized plastic bat. The average “load” of a man contains between 40 million and 200 million sperm cells. Even a hulked-out Barry Bonds on his best day can’t hope to hit every one of those cells.

This is why, with the exception of condoms, it’s so difficult to create a reliable form of contraception for men. It’s a matter of volume, biology, and sheer numbers. Again, the patriarchy isn’t behind this. It’s purely a matter of pragmatics.

That hasn’t stopped science from trying. Naturally, there’s significant demand for a product that’ll ensure men that they’ll never be on the wrong end of a paternity test. For the Evander Holyfields and DMX’s of the world, that’s an important bit of assurance because failing that test can cost a lot in terms of legal recourse.

Earlier this year, one attempt at male birth control ended in miserable failure when men couldn’t handle the side-effects. It made men everywhere the butt of a lot of jokes, especially among women who had been dealing with the side-effects of contraception for decades. As a man, I definitely felt an unseen kick to the balls. That said, it did highlight the inherent difficulty in achieving this critical advancement.

Well, the promise of male birth control might actually be closer than we think and not in the flying cars sort of way. According to ScienceAlert, a new product called Vasalgel is making its rounds through testing and so far, it may hold the most promise to giving men the same control over their fertility that women have enjoyed for decades.

How does it work? It’s basically a dissolvable gel that is injected into vas deferens, which are those tiny tubes that sperm flow through after they leave the testes. The gel blocks the sperm, but not the rest of the seminal fluid that gets released upon ejaculation. That means men still get the sweet, sexy release they crave, but that release contains no sperm. It’s the semen-equivalent of calorie-free soda.

This method is far more preferable in the sense that it doesn’t use hormones, which apparently men aren’t as equipped to handle as women. It’s also not a regiment that requires men to take a pill daily. Given the “meathead effect” caused by testosterone, that’s pretty damn important.

When used properly, which is always key in any medical application, Vasalgel works for approximately ten years. That’s basically then years of baby-free boning for men. Considering how many kids certain professional athletes tend to father, that’s a big deal.

Beyond reducing the need to make child support payments, this form of male contraception is vital with respect to leveling the playing field for genders. Let’s not lie to ourselves, guys. We’re playing an unfair game with unequal rules in the contraception game.

We put the burden on the women to manipulate their bodies accordingly so they don’t get pregnant when they don’t want to. They have to down pills, shoot themselves up with chemicals, or implant little devices up into their lady parts. All we men have to do is put on a latex sheath over our dicks. That’s just not fair.

Beyond putting all these expectations on the ladies we want to love and make love with, we’re also putting ourselves at a disadvantage. You want to know why Maury Povich is in business? It’s because men just don’t have any options beyond condoms or vasectomies to control their fertility. Absent those options, we’re still incredibly horny and, as we routinely demonstrate, we don’t think clearly when we’re horny.

With Vasalgel, assuming it works as advertised, the playing field isn’t just level. The whole contraception game is basically on easy mode. This isn’t something we have to apply in the heat of the moment when we’re so horny that we can barely do basic math. This is something we do at a doctor’s office once every decade and then basically forget about it. Like hot pockets and breakfast burritos, it helps when things are that easy.

Picture the following scenario. A 16-year-old boy is an aspiring athlete. Everyone tells him he has what it takes to play at the college level and maybe even the pros. He’s a big star at the school and, naturally, that attracts a lot of women. He knows that getting a teenage girl pregnant is a very good way to derail any promising future. Just ask Travis Henry.

To nip this issue early on, he goes to a doctor and gets a Vasalgel injection. That means for the rest of his high school and college career, at least, he doesn’t have to worry about getting a girl knocked up. He can enjoy all the naked cheerleaders he wants without worry.

Now this wouldn’t stop some girls from claiming he fathered their child. This does happen. Look up something called “Baller Alert” and prepare to become an angry Al Bundy. Some women do prey, and smartly so, on the horniness of men and use it to their advantage. Vasalgel could stop that.

I believe that if and when Vasalgel gets approved, it’ll also come with a certificate or some indisputable receipt that shows that a man does have this injection. Perhaps it even has a date and time stamp with it because that would help establish timelines for paternity suits, if and when they come up. It would give men an extremely powerful tool not just to control their fertility, but to fight back against predatory baby mamas.

Think back to those professional athletes who couldn’t keep it in their pants. How much money and frustration would they have saved if they had something like Vasalgel?

That’s why I believe that male contraception is a vital advancement. So long as there is an unequal dynamic between genders, there will always be conflict. Balance out that conflict and maybe we can focus less on paternity suits and more on finding better ways to relate to one another. If those ways involve a more honest way of making love, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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Fixing The Flawed Wiring Of The Human Brain

I talk a lot about the flaws, failures, and absurdities of the human species on this blog. It’s not by accident, I assure you. It’s not entirely by choice either. I’d love to be able to attribute shortcomings in the human condition to evil spirits, curses, and watered down beer. It’s just a matter of inescapable pragmatism that I constantly circle back to the flaws in our collective human brains.

These flaws extend to issues like unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality, religiously-motivated self-torture, and irrational understandings of gender differences. There’s no escaping it. We, as a species, are a buggy beta version at best and a 10-year-old, malware infested laptop running Windows Vista at worst. The fact we’ve been able to survive this long is a testament to our adaptability and/or dumb luck.

There are a lot of complexities and intricacies to these flaws in the human condition. I’ve touched on many to date on this blog and I intend to explore many more, both here and within my own books. Some may argue that these flaws are part of what make us human. That may be true to some extent, but I also believe that we’re way overdue for an upgrade.

The problem with these upgrades is that the flaws in the human condition are closely tied to the flaws of nature as a whole. Nature, by its own overly-pragmatic accord, is a blunt instrument that is stuck using painfully slow processes to fix and tweak its creations.

Natural selection, adaptation, genetic variation are all painfully slow. They’re akin to bunch of blind rats trying to direct traffic down a busy city street during rush hour. This means they can’t be precise, calculated, or measured. They basically have to build a house using nothing but a baseball bat and globs of wet cement. It is possible, but it’s not going to be very refined.

This clunky, crude process is a big reason why humans are at the mercy of the caveman logic that’s hardwired into our brains. Human civilization progresses quickly and chaotically, but our collective brains are still stuck on the same settings they were when we were hunting sabretooth tigers in the African savanna and shitting in gopher holes.

These are some pretty serious flaws, but the human species, like other species that manage to survive this long, can still adapt because of and/or in spite of these flaws. The human brain itself can do this to a significant degree thanks to brain plasticity, the wonderfully complex process that allows the brain to adapt and tweak its wiring in accord with new experiences.

While this plasticity is somewhat limited, it does provide a mechanism for tweaking our faulty wiring when it gets too faulty. This mechanism can be used to treat issues like addiction, depression, or learning disabilities like dyslexia. There’s a whole cottage industry of sorts, complete with accomplished experts and outright frauds, for rewiring the brain in this way.

About a year ago, Big Think did an article that focused on methods for rewiring the brain to improve performance in their careers. They cited a study where people who actively practiced a particular skill on a piano affected their brains in a similar way as people who just thought about practicing that same skill.

It once again reveals the crudeness of our biology. Our brains don’t always know the difference between action and thought. Both will help tweak the wiring to some degree. Crude or not, it does show the power of this mechanism. It’s easy to exploit if you understand and appreciate the clunky processes it uses.

We can use these new findings about the brain to help us become better performers at work, more successful in our business dealings, and more fulfilled professionally. By consistently training our thoughts, like those imaginary piano players, we can expand the number of branches and synaptic connections in our hippocampus, potentially leading to an increased ability to retain new information and adapt to new situations.

This alone should give some people hope that they can wire themselves to be more efficient in their jobs, their personal lives, and everything in between. Just understand that thoughts and actions can have a similar impact. Thoughts will inspire your actions and vice versa.

So when a parent tells their kid, “If you think it’s going to be awful, then it will be!” they’re not bullshitting them. They are actually telling the truth and they have scientific studies to back it up. That’ll be handy to have for when I have kids one day.

It’s even possible to push this process even further. In his book, “How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big,” Scott Adams talks about using self-hypnosis to re-wire your thoughts into a more successful framework. He even provides actual instructions for those seeking to get in shape, eat a healthier diet, and deal with idiots at work. It’s a great book that I highly recommend. Given the amount of idiots in this world, this kind of advice is invaluable.

While having a faulty brain that can be hacked is nice to some degree, there are limits. Human beings are complex creatures who are at the mercy of equally complex and exceedingly clunky natural processes. Sure, we have Einstein, Mozart, and Shakespeare, but we also have Stalin, Dahlmer, and Bieber as well. The sheer range and breadth of that margin of error is a tad disconcerting.

This is the point where I close my eyes, ignore the doomsayers, and speculate on the progress mankind will make with its technology one day. We have a distinct advantage compared to the gorillas, elephants, and raccoons of this world. We can do more than just gather food from trees and trash cans. We can build shit. We can build some pretty amazing shit. Hell, we built this.

Our ability to build awesome shit gives me some hope that one day mankind will find a more comprehensive way to fixing the egregious flaws of our biology. It’s not enough to just train our minds and bodies to be better. We need to build shit that’ll make us better beyond anything that biology will allow.

Nature can create the grand canyon. We can make Mount Rushmore, the Hoover Dam, and spray cheese in a can. These are things that can’t happen naturally and, in some cases, are impossible even in ideal conditions. At a certain level of complexity, there needs to be an intelligence force armed with more than a blunt instrument to shape the world around it.

When it comes to the wiring of the human brain, the biggest promise at the moment is nanobots. These are little tiny robots that we can put in our bodies or in anything else and have them perform processes that are impossible to achieve with blunt natural forces.

These processes include going into our brains and physically rewiring the parts that are making us dumb, dispassionate, and depressed. Since these things would have a measure of intelligence, they could do more than just slap duct tape on the structure. They could break it down and rebuild it with shiny new fixtures, polished marble, un-rusted nails.

What does that mean for us? What does that mean for society? How will men and women function in a society where our brains are not at the mercy of the cavemen logic that has guided, for better and for worse, since our hunter/gatherer days?

It’s very difficult to say since I, like the rest of the human race, am limited by my caveman brain. However, it is an idea that I’ve toyed with to some extent in my books. One of my first novels, “Skin Deep,” explored the idea of using technology to reconfigure the human body, which vastly changed how certain characters interacted with one another.

I’ve been contemplating ways to explore this idea in other books. I find myself imaging a future where the brains of men and women are bereft of the flaws and limitations of our current condition. I don’t see us all being these mindless drones in such a future. I actually see us becoming more emotional, more connected, and more passionate than we would be otherwise.

Since this is the internet and pretty much any bit of technology will be applied to sex, I also find myself thinking about how this would affect intimacy. What would it be like for two people, be they gay or straight, to have sex when their brains have been enhanced to such a degree that they don’t have any biological limitations?

What sort of emotions would we feel? What sort of thoughts would we think? What sort of orgasms would we have? These are the kinds of kinky ideas that keep me up at night, among other things. They’re ideas worth contemplating because this future may manifest in some form or another down the line.

According to futurist, Ray Kurzweil, nanorobotic technology will advance to a point where it can re-wire our brains at some time in the 2030s. He claims:

We’re going to expand the brain’s neocortex and become more godlike.

That’s a pretty bold claim, but one that only seems bold from our limited, caveman brains. I’m sure a mouse looks at a hot pocket or a cup of Ramen noodles and struggles to comprehend that as well.

Unlike a rat, we can speculate and tell stories about the lives of those who live in a world where their brains are functioning beyond that of mere cavemen. Will these brains be absent of the flaws, taboos, and hindrances that hinder our ability to be intimate with one another? It’s amazing to contemplate and could make for a damn good, damn sexy story.

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