Future Relationships (was: ethical problem? Some kind of problem, anyway...)

Scott Badger (wbadger@psyberlink.net)
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 20:56:09 -0500

NanoGina wrote:

> I'm no sentimental fool, but man, this is crazy talk (below). People
> staying together cuz they are old? Or about to keel over anyway's? I
> don't know what the rest of the world want's in life, but I'm true to
> myself, or I'll never be happy. I am with someone because I want to
> be, and no other reason. (or I'm not there- and I expect the same)
> Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
> http://www.nanoindustries.com
> my pictures
> http://www.homestead.com/nanogirlpix/nanogirlpix.html

This is a fine sentiment but more the exception than the rule. People do compromise. . . they do settle . . . less these days than in the past, admittedly. I'm just saying that older people perceive that they have fewer options because they believe they won't be able to attract another partner or they can't make it alone financially or they don't want to hurt the other person, or what would the children think, or any other number of reasons. IMO, future circumstances will eliminate many of these perceived and real barriers and people will in general feel more independent and less disposed to honoring vows that no longer hold any meaning for them.

I remember hearing an evolutionary psychologist suggest that spousal relationships were designed to last about as long as it took for a child to grow to the age of 7 or so (hence the "7 year itch"). Or maybe it was that fact that by the time you were ready to mate, you only had another 7 years on average before you died. Anyway, she indicated that we certainly weren't designed to be together for 50 and 60 years, let alone hundreds. Some couples will achieve this, I have no doubt, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that the average does indeed drop to about 7 years or so. Again, I don't see this as a bad thing, necessarily. Every relationship is unique and individuals shouldn't be guided by the "averages". Rather, they should stay together as long the relationship is functional for both parties and provides sufficient emotional fulfillment.

But here's a question for you (at the risk of being kookified). Men are from Earth and women are from Earth but we clearly differ when it comes to what we want out of a relationship and these differences are often at the heart of our inability to maintain loving relationships. Should we be viewing these differences as a human limitation to be transcended? Should we try to redesign our psyches in order to enhance our mutual capacities for successful marital relationships? Shall we make men more like women, women more like men, or try to identify the most adaptive and resilient attributes of both and head everyone in that direction. Then there'd be two sexes but only one gender. Would that be a bad thing? Or is there even a place for sex in our post-human future. Other than the discussion on robots as sexual partners and sex in cyberspace, I don't recall seeing any postings on sexual transhumanism.

Another thought came to me on this topic. I'm paraphrasing here, but Eliezer talked about how we would eventually come to understand subjective experiences like the appreciation of art, music, joy, love, etc. Is anyone worried that when we dissect and fully reveal the nature of these subjective experiences, we will probably lose the mystery and the meaning that those experiences hold for us? How can I appreciate Mozart, Mona Lisa, and Mary Lou next door when I am completely aware of the causal mechanisms behind those feelings? In short, if I really understood the anatomy of love, would I ever fall in love again?