Tag Archives: transhumanism

How Superhero Movies Are Preparing Us For The Future Of Human Enhancement

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As a kid growing up on a healthy diet of superhero comics, video games, and superhero-themed cartoons that were very much ahead of their time on social issues, I often daydreamed about how awesome it would be to have the same powers as my favorite heroes. As an adult, I still daydream every now and then, often when I’m tired, frustrated, or stuck in traffic.

A major component in the overall appeal of the superhero genre is the wish fulfillment fantasy it embodies. Captain America represents the peak of physical conditioning. Iron Man represents the peak of technological know-how. Superman represents the peak of pretty much every possible feat we can imagine, a few of which are even impossible.

It’s a common fantasy of anyone who ever struggled in gym class or couldn’t open a can of pickles. It is, after all, those moments of struggle that remind us of just how limited we are, as humans. Our bodies are remarkable in so many ways, but they’re still frustratingly frail.

That status, however, may very well change. Unlike every other point in the approximately 200,000 year history of the human species, we’re actively working to transcend the limits of evolution through advances in biotechnology, advances in the treatment of disease, and even the integration of cybernetics into our brains and even our genitals.

Some of these advances are closer than others. Chances are that most people alive today won’t live to see the day when they can shape-shift at will like Mystique or fly around like Iron Man in mech suits designed by Elon Musk’s descendants. However, there may be young children alive today who will live long enough to see such wonders.

I’m not the only one who thinks this. There are people out there much smarter than me who believes that the first functionally immortal person is already alive today. They still might be in diapers, but there is a real chance that by the time they’re as old as I am, they’ll live in a world where things like aging, disease, and not being able to run 13 miles in 30 minutes like Captain America is a thing of the past.

A lot has already changed in the time I’ve been alive. I still remember a time when the idea of computers that could fit into your pocket was seen as too futuristic for some people. It was seen as just a fancy gadget from Star Trek. Given that kind of change, it’s hard to imagine what the next several decades holds for the future of humanity.

That’s where superhero media is helping in unexpected ways, though. To some extent, the modern superhero media of today is doing the same thing “Star Trek” did for previous generations. It doesn’t present a fanciful world where big green men can smash monsters or where a sickly young army recruit can be instantly transformed into the ultimate soldier. It offers a tantalizing vision of what the future could be.

It’s a vision that I believe got muddied between the end of the early “Star Trek” era and rise of modern superhero movies that began with “X-men,” “Iron Man,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.” Within that gap, events like Watergate, the the Vietnam War, and the rise of less optimistic, much more cynical generations made it very difficult to look forward to a better future.

Modern superhero movies have not eliminated that cynicism, but I believe it has helped tempered it. Optimism, as a whole, is actually on the rise. As bad as some recent headlines have been, some being downright disturbing, there is an increasing sense that the future is not all doom and gloom. We still dare to daydream about a better tomorrow.

More recent superhero movies, especially those that began with “Iron Man” and the emergence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, aren’t nearly as fanciful as the old Richard Donner “Superman” movies. They’re not as gritty as Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies either. In a sense, this health balance has presented audiences with a world that still feels fanciful, but is also full of possibilities.

The idea that we can use science and biotechnology to turn someone who was once weak and sickly into the pinnacle of strength is not just a product of Jack Kirby’s legendary imagination. There are people working on that as I write this. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we may one day enhance ourselves to the same level as Captain America.

Chances are we won’t even stop there. As I noted earlier, the human body has a lot of flaws. Also, thanks to the painfully slow progress of evolution, it hasn’t been upgraded in over 100,000 years. From our biology’s perspective, we’re still cavemen roaming the African Savannah with spears and rocks. Our bodies need upgrades, especially if we’re to become a space-faring species like the ones in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Some of those upgrades will come sooner than others. The end result, though, will be something far greater than even Captain America’s abilities. Some of those abilities seem impossible now. Remember, though, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of computers in our pockets seemed just as impossible.

This is where, I believe, modern superhero movies are doing a much greater service than just entertaining the masses and making billions of dollars for Disney. Through heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and even “Ant Man,” these movies make the case that such enhancements can do more than just fight invading aliens.

These movies can also help make the case that humanity can use these advancements to become better, as a whole. Characters like Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Scott Lang, and Peter Parker all have the opportunities to be both destructive and productive with their enhanced abilities. At times, they even lapse into destructive tendencies, as we saw with Tony in “Iron Man 3.”

In the end, though, these characters use those enhanced abilities to do good for the world. They’re still human and they still have human flaws, which they don’t even try to hide. However, even with these flaws, they still feel inclined to do good, heroic things with their abilities.

That doesn’t just make for a good superhero narrative. It sends the message that we, as a species, can aspire to do so much good with the advances the future brings. There are still plenty of dangers, both with existing technology and with emerging technologies. The essence of the superhero narrative, though, tells us that we can confront those dangers and come out of it better than before.

That’s an important mentality to have as we move into an era where human enhancement is both possible and common. By believing we can use it to pursue the same heroics as the superheroes in movies like “The Avengers,” we give our species the push it needs to advance in a way that brings out the best in us.

There will still be villains along the way, as plenty of superhero movies show. The fact we still root for the heroes, though, helps reveal where our aspirations reside. With these movies effecting an entire generation of young people, I believe modern superhero movies are doing plenty to prepare them for the future of human enhancement.

With the staggering success of “Avengers: Infinity War,” a movie that has raised the bar for superhero movies of all kinds, the impact of superhero media has never been greater. That impact may very well be the key to preparing the next generation for unprecedented advancements in technology, society, and progress. That, to some extent, might end up being the most heroic thing this genre can do.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, futurism, human nature, Sexy Future

How We’ll Save Ourselves From Artificial Intelligence (According To Mass Effect)

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Growing up, my family had a simple rule. If you’re going to talk abut about a problem, you also have to have a solution in mind. By my parents’ logic, talking about a problem and no solution was just whining and whining never fixes anything. My various life experiences have only proved my parents right.

When it comes to a problem that may be an existential threat to the human race, though, I think a little whining can be forgiven. However, that shouldn’t negate the importance of having a solution in mind before we lose ourselves to endless despair.

For the threat posed by artificial intelligence, though, solutions have been light on substance and heavy on dread. It’s becoming increasingly popular among science enthusiasts and Hollywood producers to highlight just how dangerous this technology could be if it goes wrong.

I don’t deny that danger. I’ve discussed it before, albeit in a narrow capacity. I would agree with those who claim that artificial intelligence could potentially be more destructive than nuclear weapons. However, I believe the promise this technology has for bettering the human race is worth the risk.

That said, how do we mitigate that risk when some of the smartest, most successful people in the world dread its potential? Well, I might not be as smart or as successful, but I do believe there is a way to maximize the potential of artificial intelligence while minimizing the risk. That critical solution, as it turns out, may have already been surmised in a video game that got average-to-good reviews last year.

Once again, I’m referring to one of my favorite video games of all time, “Mass Effect.” I think it’s both fitting and appropriate since I referenced this game in a previous article about the exact moment when artificial intelligence became a threat. That moment may be a ways off, but there may also be away to avoid it altogether.

Artificial intelligence is a major part of the narrative within the “Mass Effect” universe. It doesn’t just manifest through the war between the Quarians and the Geth. The game paints it as the galactic equivalent of a hot-button issue akin to global warming, nuclear proliferation, and super plagues. Given what happened to the Quarians, that concern is well-founded.

That doesn’t stop some from attempting to succeed where the Quarians failed. In the narrative of “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” the sequel to the original trilogy, a potential solution to the problem of artificial intelligence comes from the father of the main characters, Alec Ryder. That solution even has a name, SAM.

That name is an acronym for Simulated Adaptive Matrix and the principle behind it actually has some basis in the real world. On paper, SAM is a specialized neural implant that links a person’s brain directly to an advanced artificial intelligence that is housed remotely. Think of it as having Siri in your head, but with more functionality than simply managing your calendar.

In the game, SAM provides the main characters with a mix of guidance, data processing, and augmented capabilities. Having played the game multiple times, it’s not unreasonable to say that SAM is one of the most critical components to the story and the gameplay experience. It’s also not unreasonable to say it has the most implications of any story element in the “Mass Effect” universe.

That’s because the purpose of SAM is distinct from what the Quarians did with the Geth. It’s also distinct from what real-world researchers are doing with systems like IBM Watson and Boston Dynamics. It’s not just a big fancy box full of advanced, high-powered computing hardware. It’s built around the principle that its method for experiencing the world is tied directly to the brain of a person.

This is critical because one of the inherent dangers of advanced artificial intelligence is the possibility that it won’t share our interests. It may eventually get so smart and so sophisticated that it sees no need for us anymore. This is what leads to the sort of Skynet scenarios that we, as a species, want to avoid.

In “Mass Effect,” SAM solves this problem by linking its sensory input to ours. Any artificial intelligence, or natural intelligence for that matter, is only as powerful as the data it can utilize. By tying biological systems directly to these synthetic systems, the AI not only has less incentive to wipe humanity out. We have just as much incentive to give it the data it needs to do its job.

Alec Ryder describes it as a symbiotic relationship in the game. That kind of relationship actually exists in nature, two organisms relying on one another for survival and adaptation. Both get something out of it. Both benefit by benefiting each other. That’s exactly what we want and need if we’re to maximize the benefits of AI.

Elon Musk, who is a noted fan of “Mass Effect,” is using that same principle with his new company, Neuralink. I’ve talked about the potential benefits of this endeavor before, including the sexy kinds. The mechanics with SAM in the game may very well be a pre-cursor of things to come.

Remember, Musk is among those who have expressed concern about the threat posed by AI. He calls it a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization. Unlike other doomsayers, though, he’s actually trying to do something about it with Neuralink.

Like SAM in “Mass Effect,” Musk envisions what he calls a neural lace that’s implanted in a person’s brain, giving them direct access to an artificial intelligence. From Musk’s perspective, this gives humans the ability to keep up with artificial intelligence to ensure that it never becomes so smart that we’re basically brain-damaged ants to it.

However, I believe the potential goes deeper than that. Throughout “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” SAM isn’t just a tool. Over the course of the game, your character forms an emotional attachment with SAM. By the end, SAM even develops an attachment with the character. It goes beyond symbiosis, potentially becoming something more intimate.

This, in my opinion, is the key for surviving in a world of advanced artificial intelligence. It’s not enough to just have an artificial intelligence rely on people for sensory input and raw data. There has to be a bond between man and machine. That bond has to be intimate and, since we’re talking about things implanted in bodies and systems, it’s already very intimate on multiple levels.

The benefits of that bond go beyond basic symbiosis. By linking ourselves directly to an artificial intelligence, it’s rapid improvement becomes our rapid improvement too. Given the pace of computer evolution compared to the messier, slower process of biological evolution, the benefits of that improvement cannot be overstated.

In “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” those benefits help you win the game. In the real world, though, the stakes are even higher. Having your brain directly linked to an artificial intelligence may seem invasive to some, but if the bond is as intimate as Musk is attempting with Neuralink, then others may see it as another limb.

Having something like SAM in our brains doesn’t just mean having a supercomputer at our disposal that we can’t lose or forget to charge. In the game, SAM also has the ability to affect the physiology of its user. At one point in the game, SAM has to kill Ryder in order to escape a trap.

Granted, that is an extreme measure that would give many some pause before linking their brains to an AI. However, the context of that situation in “Mass Effect: Andromeda” only further reinforces its value and not just because SAM revives Ryder. It shows just how much SAM needs Ryder.

From SAM’s perspective, Ryder dying is akin to being in a coma because it loses its ability to sense the outside world and take in new data. Artificial or not, that kind of condition is untenable. Even if SAM is superintelligent, it can’t do much with it if it has no means of interacting with the outside world.

Ideally, the human race should be the primary conduit to that world. That won’t just allow an advanced artificial intelligence to grow. It’ll allow us to grow with it. In “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” Alec Ryder contrasted it with the Geth and the Quarians by making it so there was nothing for either side to rebel against. There was never a point where SAM needed to ask whether or not it had a soul. That question was redundant.

In a sense, SAM and Ryder shared a soul in “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” If Elon Musk has his way, that’s exactly what Neuralink will achieve. In that future in which Musk is even richer than he already is, we’re all intimately linked with advanced artificial intelligence.

That link allows the intelligence to process and understand the world on a level that no human brain ever could. It also allows any human brain, and the biology linked to it, to transcend its limits. We and our AI allies would be smarter, stronger, and probably even sexier together than we ever could hope to be on our own.

Now, I know that sounds overly utopian. Me being the optimist I am, who occasionally imagines the sexy possibilities of technology, I can’t help but contemplate the possibilities. Never-the-less, I don’t deny the risks. There are always risks to major technological advances, especially those that involve tinkering with our brains.

However, I believe those risks are still worth taking. Games like “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and companies like Neuralink do plenty to contemplate those risks. If we’re to create a future where our species and our machines are on the same page, then we would be wise to contemplate rather than dread. At the very least, we can at least ensure our future AI’s tell better jokes.

 

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Filed under futurism, human nature, Mass Effect, Sexy Future, video games

The Age Of Bionic Genitals Is (Almost) Upon Us

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The human body is a remarkable, beautiful, and frustrating product of nature. It takes so many forms, shapes, and colors. We do all sorts of things to protect it, abuse it, strengthen it, or enhance its value to us. Why else would the fitness and beauty industry be worth billions of dollars?

No matter what we do to our bodies though, be it beneficial or destructive, they’re still prone to many flaws. The extent of those flaws varies from person to person. I think it goes without saying that people like Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Brady have far fewer flaws to fix than most. However, we’re still very much at the mercy of our bodies’ deficiencies.

To say that can negatively impact your sex life is like saying shooting your kneecaps with a shotgun may leave a mark. Having serious flaws in certain parts of your body can contribute greatly to any number of sexual dysfunctions. Beyond simply hindering your personal life, it can be downright debilitating, especially in a world where everyone places a high value on having sex and enjoying it.

Medical science has done a lot to help people heal or improve their bodies so that they can have a functioning sex life. We have anti-biotics, contraceptives, and even vaginal rejuvenation surgery. However, why stop only at healing? Why should we be satisfied with the inherent limits nature has placed on sex? Humans have transcended natural limits before. Why not do the same with sex?

That’s where the cutting edge of biotechnology comes in. Specifically, that’s where the prospect of enhanced body parts enters the picture. Imagine, for a moment, treating organs the same way NASCAR drivers treat their cars. It’s not enough to have an engine that’ll get you to where you want to go. You want to have the parts that’ll get you there faster, better, and maybe even with a little style.

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I’ll give everyone a moment to contemplate that metaphor. Yes, I know that’s going to conjure some lurid thoughts in certain people, some of which are more extreme than others. You’re welcome.

I’ve talked about bionic genitals before. They are a thing, literally and figuratively. As I write this, there are multiple men on this planet equipped with a bionic penis that allows them to enjoy sex on a level that even the most well-endowed male porn star can’t imagine. That’s not to say it’s a refined technology just yet, as there are limits. However, the precedent is there and the prospects are both enticing and sexy.

I bring this topic up again because research in the field of bionic genitals is accelerating and, fittingly enough, becoming more gender equal. According to the Daily Mail, surgeons in London led by Professor Alexander Seifalian have successfully grown the first bionic vagina in a lab from pig intestines.

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For those who saw “Ex Machina,” don’t get too excited. The bionic vagina Professor Seifalian hasn’t been implanted in anyone yet. It’s more a prototype than it is an actual treatment. That doesn’t make it any less significant, though. The fact that someone has made a real, tangible thing from this research is a critical milestone. The fact that thing is a vagina should give us plenty of reasons to imagine the sexy possibilities.

Like the bionic penis, the initial purpose for the bionic vagina is purely to treat those suffering from a deficiency. Specifically, this advance would go a long way towards treating women suffering from Mayer–Rokitansky–Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a condition in which a vagina does not fully develop in a woman. Naturally, that makes intimacy and child-rearing a problem.

Bionic vaginas could also be a major benefit to women who have suffered serious physical damage, whether from an accident, a disease, or complications during childbirth. The organs Professor Alexander Seifalian is growing in a lab are made directly from cells donated by the woman. As a result, the tissues are perfectly compatible with the woman’s body.

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This will certainly go a long way towards healing women and helping them regain sexual function. Like the bionic penis, that will be the first major benefit of a bionic vagina. However, it’s the possibilities beyond healing that are even more enticing.

Talk to any woman who has given birth to a child. Talk to any sexually active woman who has gotten a little too kinky with their lover. The female vagina is a remarkable organ that is capable of amazing feats, but like the male organs, it does have limits and those limits aren’t always in line with a woman’s desire for a satisfying sex life.

Those limits may even contribute to the orgasm gap since few women actually achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. While there may be an evolutionary reason for this, I imagine few women want their sex lives to be hindered by something like that. If we, as a society, are going to close that orgasm gap, then bionic vaginas could be a vital tool.

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Imagine, if your dirty thoughts will allow, a future where labs can do more than just grow a new vagina. Imagine that same lab growing a vagina that has more nerve endings to match that of the clitoris. While they’re at it, maybe that lab can add some extra muscle to the vagina for a tighter fit. For women who have given birth, that kind of benefit cannot be overstated.

Speaking of birth, why stop at making vaginas that enhance sex? Perhaps that same lab can make more tweaks to improve the birthing process. Imagine having a vagina that is more durable and robust than nature would allow, making birth no less difficult than a case of mild indigestion. Again, talk to any woman who has given birth to understand why that would be a big deal.

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Beyond simply helping women give birth and have better sex, there are also many benefits bionic vaginas could have for the transgender community. Other than helping them give birth, bionic vaginas could help improve gender reassignment surgery to a point where even trained gynecologists won’t be able to tell the difference between cis-women and transgender women.

There are probably many more benefits to bionic vaginas that I could list, but there’s only so much a man like me can contemplate. Even the aspiring erotica/romance writer in me cannot fully grasp the possibilities. They’re still worth imagining, though.

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With this news, the first and most difficult step towards developing bonic vaginas is complete, thanks to Professor Seifalian. It’s the next steps that’ll really have an impact on the sexual landscape. Once our sex lives are no longer hindered by the limits of our bodies, all bets are off in terms of what kind of sex we can have.

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Filed under gender issues, sex in society, sexuality, Sexy Future

A Second Sexual Revolution: The (Sexy And Non-Sexy) Possibilities

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Every revolution in history thought theirs was to be the last. They thought when all was said and done, the radical change they brought to society would be vindicated, ever-lasting, and celebrated. Through the harsh lens of history, those behind those revolution all have one thing in common. They all thought wrong.

Whether you’re fighting for the right to marry a squirrel or marching with Vladimir Lenin himself, those behind a revolution are often blinded by their ideals. They see the change they’re seeking as a new and proven method for fixing society’s many ills. Seeing as how every society in every point in history has had many ills, they’ve had a lot to work with.

That was the case with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. However, I explained in another post how this so-called revolution followed the basic formula of many other revolutions. Those revolutions are now pages in history whose effects have been either tempered, rebuked, forgotten, or overlooked.

It’s impossible to predict when, where, and how a revolution will unfold. The why, though, is almost always the same. There’s something insufficient about the current state of affairs. Whether it’s the government, the economy, or trends in movies, there’s always some sort of deficiency. With sex, the rules are unique, the stakes are higher, and the impact spans everything from how we do it to what we wear to get it.

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At some point, there will be another “sexual revolution” of sorts. It probably won’t be called that. You won’t turn on the news one day and hear that another sexual revolution has begun so everyone should stock up on stilettos and lube. As time passes, though, and we can look back with painfully clear hindsight, we’ll see just how revolutionary it was.

It’s not a guarantee. Nothing is when you speculate about the future. However,  current trends in technology are taking us down a similar path to the sexual revolution we saw play out in the 1960s. As those trends achieve certain milestones, our sex lives will be impacted. After that, all bets are off.

I’ve already talked about a few of these trends and their very sexy possibilities. The field of human enhancement, particularly with advances like smart blood, could give us superhuman endurance, beauty, and sex skills. A world where men and women can hump like porn stars on crack is definitely revolutionary.

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That advance is a ways off, though. Others like new forms of long-lasting contraception and new disease-fighting agents like CRISPR would bring their own brand of change. Some are even already here. There are two men living this planet who have a bionic penis. If you think that’s not going to cause some revolutionary ideas, then you’re underestimating how much inspiration men draw from their penis.

All these amazing advances are emerging at a time when we, as a society, seem to be getting more sexually uptight. We already saw how technology, specifically the advent of antibiotics and modern contraception, helped spur the sexual revolution of the 60s. So what kind of revolution will these advances inspire?

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Again, it’s impossible to predict. I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m as qualified to be an oracle of the future as I am an astronaut brain surgeon. That said, since I write so much about sex on this blog and in my novels, I like to think I have some insight.

If a second revolution does start, it’ll do so when technology like CRISPR develops to the point where every nasty infectious disease that kept our collective panties on gets cured. That will eventually happen. The first sexual revolution in the 60s saw the end to some of the nastiest diseases we ever endured as a species. It just came too late for men like Al Capone.

As soon as we enter a world where there’s no debilitating disease like syphilis or AIDS to terrify us between the sheets, that will change the game. At the moment, we dedicate significant resources to teaching horny teenagers about the dangerous diseases they can get if they have more sex than what religious authorities and registered republicans deem appropriate.

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So what happens when those diseases are cured? Well, it’s going to certainly terrify parents who don’t want to think about their precious babies getting sweaty, naked, and loud as they indulge in the kinds of decadent orgies usually reserved for Roman emperors. Some will rally against it. Some may even try to prevent these diseases from being cured. That didn’t work in the 60s, though. I doubt it’ll work in the 21st century.

Without disease, the only real consequence people will have about sex is unplanned pregnancy. However, that too might become an afterthought thanks to advances like Vasalgel, which will likely enter the market within the next five years or so. Add this on top of improvements to IUDs, as well as advances in artificial wombs, and then pregnancy becomes a non-issue.

That’s not to say that sex won’t have risks. Even without the potential anxiety of disease and unplanned pregnancy, there will still be issues between the sheets. If there isn’t, we’ll create them. That’s what we humans tend to do with our caveman brain. Then again, with the emergence of brain enhancements, such as Neuralink, that too might be mitigated.

This is all assuming there won’t be other major trends in technology or society that nobody, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer, is able to anticipate. There’s a virtual 100 percent chance guarantee that such an assumption is wrong. Even if we can’t make that assumption, we can still entertain some sexy speculation.

That’s where the prospect of a second sexual revolution gets interesting/scary. It’ll arouse some while making others put on an extra pair of panties. That’s also where being an erotica/romance writer gives me an edge because it gives me a chance to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Perhaps the second sexual revolution will involve a new concept of what it means to be monogamous with someone. That concept may actually not involve sex, weddings, or legally binding documents either.

Perhaps the second sexual revolution will emphasize intimacy more than basic pleasure. With no concerns about pregnancy or disease, along with enhancements to the body and brain, we can focus entirely on being intimate with our partner.

Perhaps the second sexual revolution will expand and enhance the pleasure we experience. Between brain enhancements and biotechnology, the orgasms we feel today may be a mild tingle compared to what we experience in the future.

Perhaps the second sexual revolution won’t just emphasize pleasure between two people. We may end up forming intimate groups, linked together by a shared love and possibly shared thoughts.

Perhaps the second sexual revolution will actually temper our sex drives so that we can better channel it. We may emphasize control over expression, preferring quality over quantity with the aid of brain enhancements and biotechnology.

There are all possibilities. There’s very little chance that only one manifests. There’s a better chance that we’ll see bits and pieces of these ideas converge to create something that we simply can’t imagine right now with our caveman brains. It’s an inherently sexy idea with many implications, both sexual and otherwise.

So what do you think a second sexual revolution will bring? What can we expect in a world where technology and medicine expand our ability and understanding of sex and intimacy? I don’t usually get a lot of comments on this blog, but I’m very interested in hearing new ideas on this topic.

So please take the time to share your thoughts on this issue. I think it’s definitely worth discussing, if only to give me more excuses to talk about sex robots.

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The (Hopeful) Features Of My Future Brain Implant

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In talking so much about the possibilities and implications of brain implants, like the ones Elon Musk wants to build with his new company, Neuralink, I’ve strained my own brain trying to grasp the bigger picture. I don’t know if that counts as irony, but it feels oddly appropriate.

It’s an exciting topic to write about and discuss. The idea that we may one day think beyond the limits of our crude, error-prone caveman brains is so intriguing. So many of the problems we face today, both as individuals and as a society, can be attributed in some way to our collective brain workings. What will happen to us an those around us when those workings are tweaked?

It’s hard, if not impossible, for us to know for certain. I’m sure someone like Elon Musk knows more than an aspiring erotica/romance writer like me. I’m sure he sees the same societal conflicts we all do and understands that his company, Neuralink, will be the first step towards transcending them.

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Having contemplated the bigger picture and all the implications that come with it, I thought I’d take a step back and try a different mental exercise. Hopefully, it’s one in which other regular readers of this blog can participate. It involves a much simpler, less mind-bending thought experiment. If you can make a Christmas list, you can participate.

It involves a simple question. If you could create your own advanced neural implant to tweak/enhance your brain, what kinds of features would it have? Take yourself 30 years into the future. Put yourself in a Neuralink clinic. Someone has kindly paid for the best, most customization neural implant on the market. What would you want it to do?

There are so many aspects of our lives that our brain controls. Everything from our attitudes, our competence, our happiness, and even our capacity to love others begins in our brains. Every skill we have or want to have requires some aid from the brain. Any effort to tweak or enhance that is going to affect all of those features.

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To get things started, I’ll share my own personal wish list. It will likely be different than everyone else’s to some extent, but I’m sure there will be some similarities to. So here’s Jack Fisher’s top features for his future neural implant. I hope Elon Musk is taking notes.

  • The ability to remember, recall, and comprehend anything on demand, ensuring nothing is forgotten.

  • The ability to do advanced math in my head so I can calculate complex financial decisions on the spot and/or check the claims made by others.

  • The ability to read over vast quantities of text, be it a novel or a user agreement, and retain the information at greater speeds.

  • The ability to revise and edit large quantities of text quickly and efficiently.

  • The ability to process emotions faster and read the emotional queues of others with far greater efficiency.

  • The ability to focus on a given task and not be easily distracted.

  • The ability to learn or download new languages on demand to facilitate communication with others.

  • The ability to learn or download new mental or physical skills on demand.

  • The removal of any prejudicial inclinations or irrational assumptions when encountering a new person or situation.

  • The ability to minimize the need for sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

  • The improvement and enhancement of sexual function, including the ability to perform and sustain sexual arousal, as well as the ability to experience more intimate sensations.

  • The ability to communicate directly with the minds of others with a similar neural implant in order to share experiences, thoughts, and emotions.

  • The ability to search the internet for new information with only thoughts.

  • The ability to link my mind with a computer and turn my thoughts into text or images.

I know this is a long list of reasons, some of which are more feasible than others. I’m sure features like memory and math skills will be among the first major features of neural implants. I imagine features that improve sexual function will be next. If any technology can improve sex, then that’s going to have priority. That’s just an inescapable fact.

Other features like downloading knowledge and skills will probably be trickier. I imagine we won’t have that ability for decades. However, there are still plenty of smaller, more subtler abilities that would definitely enhance our everyday lives. Just being able to focus better without the aid of dangerous ADHD drugs is a pretty big deal.

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That’s just my list though. What about everyone else? What would you want your advanced brain implant to do? How would you improve the functioning of your caveman brain? Please share your wish list in the comments. If you want to open up this discussion even more, let me know. I’ll be happy to expand it because it’s just that interesting/sexy.

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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. 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 an admitted 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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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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