Re: Post-sexual?

Anders Sandberg (
08 Sep 1998 10:48:08 +0200

Hal Finney <> writes:

> I was thinking this morning about posthuman
> sexuality in similar terms. It would seem logical to rewire the brain's
> reward system so that it got pleasure directly from solving problems.
> The sexual drive would be sublimated into problem solving. Actually there
> are people who seem to be able to do this kind of rechannelling to some
> extent, and I believe they do get direct mental pleasure from their
> activities, but probably not of the intensity we associate with sexuality.

Once overheard on sci.math: "Sex is the mathematics urge sublimated" :-)

Of course, re-wiring the motivational systems is tricky. You have to be careful to avoid getting into trivial loops (this is where boredom saves us).

The fun part is that we can already re-wire it somewhat, the frontal cortex interacts with the basal ganglia as a kind of planning/action selection device, with reinforcement learning using the dopaminergic systems ending up in nucleus accumbens. But it seems that evolution has given us the ability to form "mental reward circuits", circuits created through learning/training that activate the reinforcement system. I think we all see the potential here.

> I'm not sure how it would map to the sexual pattern of excitement/
> plateau/orgasmic release. Problem solving sometimes does have this
> pattern, working towards a solution, feeling that you are "almost there",
> and then the "aha" as you realize that it all works. However this is
> not universal and sometimes the solution appears without warning, while
> other times the realization that a solution really works requires a long
> period of verification and testing.

The current sexual pattern is largely determined by behavioral and physiological constraints (approach, ensuring connection, release, withdrawal), and in a posthuman setting it is only reasonable that it could be varied a lot (even if normal problem solving seems to roughly correspond to it). Recursive fractal sex in large problem-trees, anybody?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y