Re: EXTRO-3: Comments from Darren

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 22:14:44 -0500

Re: The Future of Gender
It's too bad I wasn't there. Among the issues I would like to have raised:

1. Emotional differences between genders arise from differing evolutionary
cost-benefit ratios. Given certain new methods of reproduction, what would be
the corresponding emotional changes? Given a new "gender" which reproduced
its ideas into the child's mind, would any new evolved emotions arise? What
about triple sexuality?

2. What if we're not evolving emotions? If we design them ourselves, would
we want to invent any new emotions? How would this affect social interaction?
Suppose parents are required by law to be incapable, emotionally, of harming
their child... how would this affect dating? Might not both partners circle
cautiously to ensure a potential child would not be harmed by the other?

3. How would thoughtsharing of various types affect sexual mores? Define an
Augmented human as a "primary" human supported by several other experts
sharing the world through virtual reality and communicating continuously,
waking and sleeping, on subvocal/subconscious/hypnotic channels. (Augmented
humans are addressed as "Augmented Sally" to emphasize that you're talking to
everyone, not just Sally.) If Augmented Sally and Augmented Fred have sex,
how would this affect the Augmentations, which could be of mixed genders?

4. What if a liberal administration required that everyone switch sexes once
per year, to eliminate prejudice? Would people stick with their old emotions,
switch to the new, or go nuts?

Note that none of these questions address uploading.
You all know why...


The whole missed opportunity reminds me of another time... [From an SF convention I once attended:]

A friend once gave a lecture on "Spoken Programming Languages" that I sort of had to rescue. Among the questions I asked from the audience:

"What is the cognitive difference between speaking and writing, and how will it affect the computer languages?" "Would spoken comments, recorded directly, be an improvement?"

Among other things, I suggested that you'd need super-macros so you could say "copy A into B". Another nice fellow in the audience wondered whether spoken Logo would produce the same cognitive improvement... learning to program in Logo is apparently VERY good at increasing a child's mental agility.

Previous to my throwing away all caution and asking these questions, my friend and the other panelist were discussing error correction and speaker dependence. Dull, and not what everyone had shown up to hear.


So if you're giving a lecture and want a lot of neat "What-if?" speculations, just give me a ring! I can provide them in unlimited numbers, just for the asking!

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.