While we extropians make a big deal out of physical and mental transformation, we are not alone. Throughout recorded history, people have attempted to transform themselves, in body, mental capabilities, personality, and behavior. Exercise, liposuction, tattoos, prosthetics, education, meditation, psychotherapy, religion, AA meetings, etc.
Within decades, techniques will be vastly more effective, and available to all. It's not clear what will be the driving technologies, but it seems inevitable that memories and personality will become easily mutable.
Meanwhile, when I look to myself, I cherish few things as highly as the friends and family I love. The long-term friendships that span the many changes in our lives are particularly special. Everyone I've ever discussed this with agrees, and paeans to love and friendship abound in every culture's literature, throughout history.
Indeed, how many of you subscribe to the list purely for its information content, and how many seek a community of shared interests and values? How many consider someone they met through the list to be a friend?
While I am largely enthusiastic about our shared visions of the future, I'm uncertain about the prospects for love and friendship.
Today, you fall in love. Your heart is broken. You vow to stop falling into the same traps, falling for the same type of person. Or you get pushed around, and vow to become more assertive. And despite your vows, little is likely to change in your life.
But tomorrow, you can make those vows, go to bed, and wake up with no memory of the miserable skunk who broke your heart, and a modified personality.
What happens to love and friendship when the two core qualities of friendship -- shared memories and an affinity in your personalities -- can both change unrecognizably overnight? Or be transferred to other people?
Do you wake up in the morning and a web crawler tells you who your friends are today?
As a science fiction writer (among my other hats), I have often thought about this, but cannot conjure up a future that I think is plausible that does not jeopardize both love and friendship as I know them. To me this seems an inevitable danger that scares me as much as nanowarfare or deliberate grey goo.
A related question: what are the evolutionary advantages to love and friendship? What non-human species do you think have these experiences?
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