h+ Magazine

Fall 2009...

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74 Fall 2009 Michael Anissimov Michael Anissimov writes a blog, Accelerating Future, on artificial intelligence, transhumanism, extinction risk and other areas. Conventional sex will likely persist in a transhumanist future, but only as a small subset of a much larger space of pleasurable activities which have been deliberately engineered. The connection between certain activities and the sensation of pleasure lies entirely in our cognitive architecture, which we will eventually manipulate at will. It's probably less complex than we think — many drugs can directly stimulate the pleasure center, and these are much simpler than brain-to-computer interfaces. With sufficient ability to intervene in my own neurology, I could make any experience in the world highly pleasurable or highly displeasurable. I could make sex suck and staring at paint drying the greatest thing ever. It scares some people to think that the connection between pleasure and experiences is entirely arbitrary and not based on some deeper philosophical meaning, but too bad. We will likely choose to preserve sex as a highly pleasurable activity, but perhaps other people will decide to elevate philosophical discovery or artistic creativity to a higher pleasure level than sex. That's entirely their decision. Sex is quite a simple act itself — much simpler cognitively than me writing this paragraph. Sex has existed for hundreds of millions of years, but general intelligence has only existed for a few hundred thousand. Sure, sex activates higher cognitive functions, but that is a credit to those functions, not sex itself. Sex is often idolized in our culture because it can be a largely risk-free form of pleasure. Given that sex has zero cost and great pleasure, it seems reasonable that everyone reading this should attempt to engage in it more often. One study of happiness in couples found that relationship satisfaction is correlated to the number of times the couple has sexual intercourse per week minus the number of fights. Still, it is important to remember that sexual intercourse is a highly ancient, simplistic-at-its-core activity that we may choose to discard at W e asked several leading thinkers in the radical tech community the following question: Is there sex in the posthuman or singularitarian future? We invited them to pontificate in 400 words or less. These are the results. AND THE An h+ Poll Courtesy of Clockwise from top left: Anissimov - Courtesy of Michael Anissimov, Andreadis - Courtesy of Athena Andreadis, DaSilva - Courtesy of Extropia DaSilva, Kurzweil - photo by Michael Lutch, Lightman - photo by Todd Huffman, Goertzel - photo by Joi Ito, background photo by Daniel Carter

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