The following is a YouTube video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a somewhat lengthy video essay on one of my favorite action movies of all time, “Demolition Man.” I’ve written about this movie before. It’s one of those rare movies that has only gotten better with age and only gets better, the more you delve into it. This video highlights a few key themes that should help you appreciate the movie even more. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: order
Take a moment to think about the most prominent authority figures in your life. We all have them in some form or another. For most, it’s a parent or spouse. For others, it’s a boss or a partner. For some, it’s whoever controls the wifi password in a house.
What do these authority figures have in common? What do they do that compels you to submit to their authority? Is that submission willing? Is it forced? Is it some twisted combination that keeps you up at night and makes for awkward family dinners?
These are all important questions that don’t get asked too often. We tend not to think too much about the authority figures we submit to in our day-to-day lives. We don’t even think about the people over which we ourselves wield such authority. For many people, this isn’t the kind of overt domination/submission we see in BDSM. It’s just what we see as normal.
Now let me ask a question that’s going to sound like a complete non-sequiter coming from a guy who reads too many comic books and saw Star Wars one too many times as a kid. Bear with me because it is a serious question that just happens to have crazy/sexy/disturbing implications. Here it is:
Will an advanced future robot be a dominatrix?
Take a moment to stop laughing and questioning my sanity. Then, think about that question seriously. Every year, we’re creating more and more advanced robots. On top of that, AI assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are becoming more integrated into our lives. At some point, these technological forces will converge. When that happens, just how much will we submit to it? How much will it dominate us?
Make no mistake. An advanced robot/AI will dominate us on some levels. It’s more a matter of when rather than if at this point. Robots are already more capable, efficient, and durable than our frail, fleshy bodies. Hell, some of these bodies can’t even process gluten. How are we supposed to compete with robots that can survive outer space, build a fleet of cars, and make George Lucas billions of dollars in merchandising?
The creation of advanced robots and AIs isn’t a matter of authority or domination. It’s a matter of pragmatism. Human beings are just so limited, both physically and mentally. Many human beings can’t even sit through an economics lecture or an hour of C-SPAN without falling asleep. We’re just not equipped to process the world outside our caveman instincts.
Robots and AIs are necessary and not just to help organize our FaceBook friends or email. They will help process, maintain, and manage the increasingly complex world that is bound to emerge when you put 7 billion people on a crowded planet, two-thirds of which is covered in ocean.
It’s already happening. Ray Kurzweil, a visionary and writer I’ve referenced on this blog before, has calculated that, based on the accelerating returns of information technology, computers will be as smart as humans by approximately 2030. Then, a couple decades later, they’ll be billions of times smarter than humans.
Think about that for a moment without your head exploding. How can we, with our feeble caveman brains, contemplate anything that’s a billion times smarter than us? It’s one thing to discount smug, intellectual Dr. Phil types who think they know why a woman’s kid can’t stop wetting the bed. It’s quite another to discount something that’s so much smarter than you that you might as well be a retarded ant.
This brings me back to my original question about robots and the possibility of a robot dominatrix. This is the part where I diverge with the doom and gloom we see in movies like The Terminator or The Matrix. I prefer to think that the future has much more sex appeal than we care to admit.
Think back to the basics of BDSM. It involves a strict, clear understanding of who is dominant and who is submissive. Ideally, the submissive willingly (and in some cases eagerly) submits to the dominant. The dominant exercises their authority in a manner that rewards the submissive for their submission.
Sometimes that reward takes the form of rough sex. Sometimes it takes the form of spankings, whippings, or whatever else may involve latex/leather accessories. The key here is the dynamics of having a dominant authority over a willing submissive.
With respect to robots and AI, you can’t get much more dominant than a machine that is a billion times smarter than an average human. That kind of dominance is not arbitrary. It’s the basic differences between a butterfly and a grizzly bear.
In this situation, voluntary submission would be a moot point. When something is that superior, such submission is usually implied. Sure, there are some that may resist, but we would see these individuals the same way we see two-year-old boys who think they can beat LeBron James one-on-one.
That said, this wouldn’t imply that a super-intelligent robot would be cruel or tyrannical. Cruelty and tyranny are traits that often stem from flawed, unintelligent humans who cringe at the idea that somebody’s palace might not be as big as theirs. That’s not a dick joke by the way.
If an intelligence is truly that smart, then it would be far above cruelty and tyranny, which require some level of pettiness and insecurity. Again, these are non-quantifiable human traits. A robot wouldn’t have such burdens. If they did, then they wouldn’t be that super-intelligent to begin with.
So if a robot/AI is that intelligent and we humans are still stuck at a level of intelligence where we struggle to keep up with the plot of Lost, the dynamics for a dominant/submission relationship aren’t just there. They may be inescapable.
As I’ve said before, we humans are wired to seek some form of authority with which to organize our collective lives. Part of that instinct is what leads us to ascribe maternal or paternal traits to authority figures, be they are President or our BDSM partner.
That’s why it’s no coincidence that AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana all have adult female voices. In this voice, they come off as non-threatening, maternal, and authoritative. As research has shown, female voices inspire more trust and emotional attachment than a stern male voice.
We hear an angry male voice telling us what to do and our first instinct is to rebel like a child. We hear a stern, but assertive female voice and suddenly we’re a bunch of adorable children obeying our mother while we help her bake pies. Yes, it’s a direct hijacking of our caveman brains, but you can’t argue with results.
Due to those results, I think it’s very likely that our future robot dominatrix will be a female. It will evoke ideas of a female face, a female body, and a female presence. Even among women, this intelligence would evoke the same loving submission that our mothers inspired in us. That would make it an authority that was easy to submit to. Some of us may even submit eagerly.
Now I’m not going to claim my vision of a future where a sexy robot dominatrix rules us all will come to pass. This is just my personal assessment on what the future will entail with respect to advanced artificial intelligence.
The Terminator, The Matrix, and even Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey had the resources it needed to dominate feeble humans. If they just used some sex appeal with some light BDSM, then there would’ve been no need for such conflict. We all would’ve willingly and lovingly submitted to their authority. We may still submit one day. It’s just a matter of how eager we’ll all be.
Let’s face it, we humans need some semblance of order in our lives. As a species, we just don’t function well in chaos. We’re a species that will riot in the streets because we’re glad our favorite basketball team won the championship. If aliens landed tomorrow, we’d have a very hard time explaining that to them.
Order and authority is a big part of what makes society function. It’s a big part of what helps humanity survive. As caveman logic tells us, our brains and bodies are wired for only two things: survival and reproduction. They’re wired, designed, and maintained poorly, as I’ve pointed out many times before, but there are over 7 billion of us surviving and reproducing on this planet right now so we must be doing something right.
This leads me to the wonderful world of BDSM. Yes, I know that sounds like a non-sequiter. Yes, I know that sounds like an excuse for me to talk about overtly sexual topics again. No, I will not apologize for it. I don’t think I need to explain myself at this point, nor should I have to.
In reading and writing about BDSM, I’ve picked up on a few underlying themes. Since my brain works in elaborately perverse ways, I often find myself applying those themes to the world around me. BDSM is no exception. If anything, it’s the basic standard.
Earlier this year, I completed a draft of a book called “The Big Game.” It’s a book that explores various forms of BDSM, but not just because I think readers enjoy the mental image of a star male athlete being whipped in the ass by a sexy female librarian type, although I’m sure that has its own kind of appeal.
In this story, I try to apply the principles of BDSM to a bigger picture. That bigger picture has a lot to do with how we function as a society and how we see authority. Some people inherently flaunt authority. Some people desperately need it. Human thought is incredibly diverse on the subject, but whatever our sentiment, it still affects us.
At its core, BDSM cuts through all the chaff, uncertainties, and formalities. When you read about BDSM or practice it, you know who’s in charge. You know who has the authority and who doesn’t. It’s an extremely simplistic scenario that requires little thought. The fact it often involves sex is just a bonus and a damn good bonus if done right.
In many respects, BDSM takes advantage of the biological wiring that’s already in place. There is actual science behind our inclination to obey and conform. A large body of research shows that humans have a genetic and psychological predisposition to obedience and conformity.
When you look at it through the lens of caveman logic, it makes sense. In our caveman state, we can’t dedicate all this mental energy into deciding whether or not we should trust or obey someone. That would be like holding a jury trial just to determine who gets to pick the restaurant on a date night. It’s a wholly inefficient use of our time and energy.
We need to use those resources for more vital issues like securing meat for the winter and doing enough humping to ensure our tribe has enough people to continue. Natural selection does the rest. That’s why nature instills this in our collective psyche. It helps us get along, work together, and survive long enough to get frisky.
However, like most other natural forces within our biology, it’s not that fine-tuned. Nature is a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. If our brains and bodies were computers, then they we’d say they had been wired by a drunk office temp with a bad attitude and a knack for laziness. As a result, this vital programming for obedience and conformity lay the foundation for BDSM.
It’s in this context where our biological programming for obedience goes to an extreme. The fact those extremes bring some people to orgasm only makes it more powerful. When there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, we naturally look for whatever certainty we can find. As I said before, you can’t get much more certain than who dominates who in BDSM.
Submission, dominance, obedience, and authority are all streamlined in BDSM. You don’t need to dedicate a lick of mental energy to scrutinize the situation. Everything is perfectly structured. Everything is perfectly laid out. For many perfectly healthy people who are concerned about an unhealthy world, there’s a lot of appeal in that situation.
At its core, BDSM acknowledges that we human beings aren’t built, physically or mentally, to be complete independent. We need to submit or dominate certain aspects of our lives. It’s the only way we can make sense of the world and ourselves. That’s a big reason why BDSM experiences are so powerful for some people. It’s also a big reason why it has such appeal.
So what does this mean for our future? Well, that’s a bit trickier to answer. We like to think we’re progressing to a point where we can meet all our physical and emotional needs through technology. That’s not entirely wrong, but a big part of those needs is to have some form of stable authority.
As kids, that authority is our parents. As young adults, that authority is our teachers, law enforcement, and fellow peers. As adults, that authority is our spouses, our bosses at work, or our friends. We built our lives around authority. A part of us needs some kind of authority to submit to. Some need it more than others. Most of us need it more than we care to admit.
The future will create all sorts of new uncertainties. With over 7 billion people with countless (often conflicting) needs, we’ll need some form of authority to make sense of ti all. I don’t know what form that authority will take, but it’s an idea I intend to explore.
It’s also an idea I intend to make sexy in some strange way, but that should be a given at this point. After all, if BDSM can give authority so much sex appeal, then why not embrace it along with our future as a species?