Re: EXTRO-3: a former layabout from England writes

Darren Reynolds (
Thu, 14 Aug 1997 00:21:59 +0100

Max More wrote:

>Thanks, Darren. But </hubris mode ON> wait until next year! </OFF>

Aw, I can't! The overall conference was, in my opinion, an astonishing

Max continued:

>>I did find the inclusion of a debate on the future of gender quite bizarre.
>>I fail to see that gender has any long-term future
>It certainly has a future as long-term as the introduction of

We're probably in agreement, then. My "long-term" was longer than yours.

What I'd really like to hear, preferably from someone who has studied the
subject, is what the definition of gender actually is.

For the sake of fun, here is the argument you asked me to provide:

>Gender may change drastically over the coming centuries, but
>you need to provide an argument that it has no long-term future.
>You may be correct, but that's not obvious.

I criticised the gender panel. Criticising someone else is easy and small.
Much more difficult would be for me to have an original idea, as did so
many of the panellists.

So I'm sorry. I risk consigning my thoughts to the history bin by omitting
references to statistical or experimental studies, but I will attempt,
without waiting for our official definition, an argument from logic. (That
is, begging pardons from all, what I like to think I am good at.)

I guess that it depends upon what your goals are, and mine include being
one of those "fit" entities who will "survive". The phrase "the survival of
the fittest" may be harmless tautology, but as competition for resources
hots up, I can only imagine that those who survive will indeed be the
fittest, and that the logical conclusion the fittest will come to is that
gender is an ancestral oddity.

An evaluation of an individual for the purposes of determining whether or
not one should invest in exchanging information with them should
approximate the value of the information which could be exchanged, the
probability that it will be exchanged successfully, and the cost of
exchanging it or at least trying; all in a variety of possible scenarios.

I've tried putting gender into into the equation at all available points,
and, assuming that the other entities in the exchange have the same
rationality (big assumption admittedly), it doesn't seem to me to fit. What
other purpose does gender serve?

Perhaps if we replace the word "gender" with "characterisation", it starts
to make sense. Or "sex" perhaps?

As usual with these things, I bet the debate finally boils down to the
semantic definition. I feel as if the word "gender" has been hijacked by a
community of those whose minds are sexually preoccupied. Once a mere
semantic classification itself, it now seems to have all manner of varied
meanings depending upon which literature you read. And I don't read very
much of it, so I had better shut up.

>For most of the next century at least, I see gender becoming increasingly
>individualized but not extinct.

Ah, now I see where I have gone wrong, and admit it. The "future" does
indeed begin now. Gender has a place now, assuredly for the next ten
minutes, and, as you point out, perhaps for a century or more to come. I
was looking a little further ahead than that when I said "long-term".
Probably much too far for the opinion to have any relevance.

>Secondly, the loudest contributions come
>not from silence but from participation.

<pregnant pause>