Re: sex (was The Extropian Principles)

Eugene Leitl (
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 16:04:08 +0200 (MET DST)

On Thu, 22 Aug 1996 wrote:

> In a message dated 96-08-22 06:49:03 EDT, ' gene was seen to write:
> [...]
> How can intermittent interest in one subject *keep* one from talking
> about another? It just provides another channel. Even sex isnt that

By stealing time spent in reading/thinking. Do you have an infinite
number of channels at your disposal? Can you spawn off clones for
subtopic investigation & absorbing them back (constructive interference)
with zero effort?

> fascinating that we would drop everything else and only debate *it*.

Sex keeps popping up every few weeks, or so. By now it probably should be
in the FAQ.

> Ok, sex is distracting - even stops productive minds -at least
> sometimes. For some this is a welcome recreational break.But artists have

Often, imo.

> notoriuosly high libidos, so maybe hardscience minds dont really need
> it....but I find lack of sex far more distracting.
> [...]
> >>I am quite astonished as to the low percentile transhumanist technology
> discussion scores in the extropians mailing list. I know these things are
> highly nonlinear in time, yet it still unsettles me somewhat...
> If discussion of issues untechnical unsettles you, you could make a special,

It doesn't unsettle me, only the complete absence of technically flavoured
discussions does. It is a real pity the extropians policy keeps us from
creating/accessing the former extropy archives. I think (no, I know) there
is excellent technical material to be found there.

> hitech, >Htech list. People have suggested specific lists for
> specific-topics-only views.

If we'd had 10k full-scale contributors, then this may be an option. As
for now, this would mean splitting forces. I even think the simultaneous
existance of the extropians and the transhuman mailing list to be
overkill, though the amount of noise in extropians ML is higher (hint,

> [...]
> NO NO - you missed my point, of course I meant it is strange that a
> whole conference on consciousness ignored it's existence.

Agreed. Maybe the topic was too complex. I'm not too sure where this
consciousness hulabaloo came from at all -- it lacks solid wet neuro
basis, imo.

> >>>In fact, the hardwired "propagate, propagate, propagate" programme does
> often inhibit other functions, in humans mostly ratio. An (otherwise
> quite boring)
> ( : - 0 You think sex is boring? Wow.sheesh, i have absolutely NO
> reference point for that one.

I never said such a thing. I said "otherwise quite boring". The act per
se has no inherent attraction (if one thinks of it, no act ever
inherently can). Should mutual nose picking or tennis playing result in
offspring creation or high risk of death _and_ persist for several
millenia, it sure would be equally emotionally loaded.

> >>physical act aquires a certain glorious aura, this also
> happens to the perception of mate/offspring. Remember the last endorphin
> high you rode when enamoured? Peek-a-boo -- ain't that one cute little
> dude?
> Hmmm....... I do not get the jist of the metaphor here. Our

There is a strong emotional binding both to your mate and your child. A
perceptional bias, a rose-coloured reality filter if you wish.

> experiential referencing is too disparate. However I will point out that,
> seeing Transhumanists as immortalists, sex for the means of propagation is
> not the phenomenon I am referring to of course, but consciousness pleasure-
> including but not limited to -the endorphins, yes.

If you are interested in pleasure -- after a substrate change the entire
R&P circuitry is open to you. Spending aeons in quivering pleasure or
excruciating pain will be very easy, then. It is extremely
straightforward to become a digital junkie (remember rat reward centre
autoelectrostimulation experiments?).

There are definitely grave dangers in running in a permanent wheel mode.

> [and as Eric pointed out the experiental factor - interaction between two
> beings on a very lovely level)
> So, obviously sex expedites <H evolution but that is not what we are
> discussing here - I for one, see my own >H future as being highly
> pleasurable as WELL as productive.

The both do not need to be mutex.

> I want to soar in ecstasy as well as knowledge and creativity.
> >> The function itself is certainly ancient. Bacteria fuck (E.coli S+/-),
> EEEK !!!!!! bacteria do WHAT? oh....ok, thats one way to put it (blush)

sorry ;>

> But do they enjoy it on a conscious level? Is that highly relative to

It is difficult to talk about enjoyment while discussing such relatively
primitive organisms. Nevertheless, there is no basic difference between
what we & bacteria do. Our act is just more complex, purists would say
there is sufficient quantity delta to grant it the status of quality.

> cognitive functions of the human brain?

I doubt higher regions are too involved. It would be quite fascinating to
do a PET/MEG imaging, while... erm.. in the act. I doubt such an
experiment was ever undertaken, though. Science can be fun :)

> [ subconscious olfactory behaviour determinant ]
> No. Do tell! Olfactory means smells, the quckest way to the old brain, yes?
> You must tell me more...
> Smellipulation.

There has been lots of discussion on human pheromones. This stuff is
different, though (don't ask me for the original source, it was a Kraut
paper article). Basically, it states women choose their mates by MHC
fragment profile matching, unconsciously selecting for the most viable
child (some olfactory data gets _never_ forwarded to "consciousness").
Interestingly, once in the pregnancy the preferences shift towards more
related organisms, probably based on better kinship cooperation.
Artificial progesteron analoga screw this up: the brain is tricked into
believing a permanent pregnancy.

This has definitive setbacks: the choice of your partner is modulated by
the fact whether you take contraceptiva. Dropping the pill or starting
taking it might result in a emotional partner reevaluation. Oh, yeah, we
all are so very free indeed :(

> >> As Anders has once said: why not wiring the reward centre to some other,
> >constructive tasks? I hope I am not preaching askesis here, but devoting
> >an unnecessary amount of bandwidth + giving the subject much too much
> >glamour (highest bandwidth communication? Only as mb/s transfer rate
> > is involved. The same 4 mbases every time, with negligeable alterations.
> >Boooring.)
> You find it boring? And the same each time? ( scratching head) Well< i had

Well, boring from a information theory position. The material carrier for
the information channel is packaged DNA, which is roughly 4 Gbases
(sorry, I dropped 3 orders of magnitude in the last post) for us higher
(?) primates. The stuff which actually codes is about 1 % (which can be
still compressed quite nicely) of it, the rest is probably needed for
packing (sticky patches for histones?) or are just runaway autoreplicators
(these can be constructive for introducing mutation).

> to ask for this megabyte bit to be translated out of technospeak, but I get

4 GigaBases. 4 billion bases. Apart from an occasional
mutation/rearrangement the data set is basically the same. Highly
repetitive messages en masse can get quite boring after a while, <yawn>.

> your jist - sex won't get us to the moon. Ok, so that is the reason why we
> would not want to spend every minute of our lives on it


> Don't equate the glamour aspect with the pleasure aspect, or the marketing
> value of sex with the actual function of it - not really purely biological,
> but a happy addition to optimal lives ( since we are still talkng about human

If happiness increases your fitness, it's okay. (Usually, it does, within

> consciousness). Yes, it would be nice if " A not A " did give me a rosy
> endorphin high, I would have probably spent a lot more time in calculus.

Wouldn't it be nice to give you full control over what you like and what
you don't? One can build safeguards, as limited duration or
consensus/veto of clone history (chain of being, all alive) window.

> However I think you are still underestimating the brain by giving it limits
> on "bandwidth" that come anywhere NEAR to making it neccessary to eliminate

A brain has a bandwidth all right. The raw sensorics bandwidth, the
processing bandwidth, the memory bandwidth. Lots of bottlenecks, narrow &

> sexual thought or pleasure stimuli in order to concentrate on technical
> advances ( this would also mean we have to quit vacationing and whole lot of
> wonderful and creative adventures).

I hope nobody's actually going to propose this? ('cause I would vote
against, and STRONGLY so).

> >>> Replication in a limited environment (solid state mind ecosphere) is
> bound to be limited (orelse we have to contemplate upon admitting the
> Reaper in again, which imo is a Bad Idea), and, if not de novo would
> create a chimaeric structure from several contributors. You can wire your
> reward centre to it,
> This lat was over my head, 'gene - What do you mean by replicating? AI
> self-propagation? Your technospeak baffles me. Why must we then bring the

Yes. ALifish autoreplication of bit pattern beings, whether artificial or
natural (there ain't no difference, actually).

> reaper in? Bandwidth again? What is a chimaeric structure?? Do you think in

Should there be no built-in emergency exit from this universe, we would
be stranded in this world. We would have to rely on whatever IT-capable
material structures this universe allows for, solely. If true, we would
run into limited resources (matter, energy) sooner or later. Once there,
autoreplication has to stop, or we have to delete obsolete designs,
taking over their IT resources. Hear the rattlin' of bones... If Darwin
was with us right from the start, this state will be reached very soon
(on cosmological time scale, that is) indeed.

> terms of hardware orgasms? BTW The reason age French used to call the orgasm

"Hardware orgasms", what a nice term. I (very unscientifically) think
every rational entity needs emotional "fuel" to make it tick. A purely
rational being might have the status of a TV with a blown fuse. In fact,
purely rational being might be an autocontradiction.

> " le petit mort" ..."the little death"... refering to that state of
> consciousness of pure bliss, which gave one a temporary sense of
> "nothingness" - a sense of losing the self...which in humans probably

Introspection capabilities of Self are quite limited. One needs an
external (distinctly >H) observer to actually record/evaluate what is
going on.

> facilitates that famous release from the tension - mental and physical, and
> is one of the best effects of sex itself ..if one assumes the reward center
> of AI would not need a break from it's busy calculations, nor be attuned to a

A >H being does not necessarily calculate (well, it does on the lower
scale, but then we're not consciously pumping ions and burning ATP when
we think, do we?). It can link the action "counting in Roman numerals" to
its R&W centre, which would make this boring action indistinguishable of
sex (oh, yes, give me another number... hhah!).

> set of neural and muscular prompts - this could be seen as a strictly
> wetware debate perhaps. Hard to imagine uploads having ANY sex or gender
> anyway.

Kathryn Aegis sees is this way, too. Sexual specialization becomes
unnecessary for a >H individual.

> > but why bothering?
> That brings up the "fundamental differences" topic again. Why indeed? ( BTW
> If one doesnt *enjoy* sex, finds it boring or whatever then certainly one
> shouldnt do it). But more to the point: What is one's reason for being a
> transhumanist? If it is to enhance one's own existnce, then perhaps playing

Perfectly irrational reasons, of course. To live on, to become a god, etc.

> about with ways of enhanced pleasure, stimulation ie: rewards ( as in the
> rewiring of pleasure to say, enhanced productivity - faster learning or
> whatever) will be desirable. Similarly if you only want to spend your time
> and energy on technology and productivity, then it is a waste of time.

Whether it is a waste of time, or not depends on the evaluation metric
definition utilized. My (purely subjective, of course) metric of success
stems from the realm of Darwinian evolution: the ability to survive for a
long time, the longer the better.

> If one's goal is to bring on the Singularity, or to become an AI,
> or simply think current humans won't actually be transhuman but should strive
> and sacrifice this life to the common good then pleasure and good feeling ma

I think UIF (at least what UIF means for me) forbids one from (strongly)
manipulating others into state changes they don't want to do, unless this
is absolutely inevitable for my own UIF. Prime Directive, and such ;)


> be indeed pointless!
> Nadia
> >>> up and out
> >>>
> >>>
| | cryonics, nanotechnology, |
| | >H transhumanism, [...] |
| | "deus ex machina, v.0.0.alpha"|
| | >H: "alpha-->omega" |