Re: Computer/Upload sex [was Interesting Idea]

Anders Sandberg (
17 Aug 1999 15:46:17 +0200

"Robert J. Bradbury" <> writes:

> > Ralph Lewis <> wrote:
> > An interesting idea. Since orgasm is a mind/body interaction would two
> > upload personalities having sex actually experience anything? Cybersex
> > between a computer and human in a virtual reality suit would make sense but
> > between two computers????

Depends on your views on whether software can have experiences. For functionalists and pattern identity people like me there is no problem, but others may disagree. I see nothing strange with the idea of a piece of software that experiences pleasure.

> Well the triggers may be in the body, but the experience of orgasm
> is definately in the brain. So an upload would be able to experience
> an orgasm if you tickle the right "nerves". Presumably all uploads have
> an interesting problem mapping sensory inputs (eyes, ears, taste, smell,
> heat, cold, pain, etc.) onto those "connections" that used to plug into
> the respective organs.
> If I recall, Moravec stops his upload process
> at the point where you have a bunch of wires hanging out of an empty
> brain casing. So this leaves you with two brainless bodies doing the
> horizontal mambo while the experiences are being "felt" in the computer.
> Seems horribly inefficient.

A realistic upload scenario would involve a body simulation connected to the more detailled neural emulation, sending it the right signals. Of course, you can likely tweak your body simulation quite a bit once it is in place and you are comfortable with it. Whether you keep your old physical body around or not is a matter of taste, affection and economy; it could be used instead of the virtual body, or it could be used to give input to the virtual body which ten re-maps the input in fun ways.

> It seems to make more sense to give your partner a "sex-organ object"
> in which the field values create resonances in your "sex cortex".
> They then have to vary the values in interesting ways until they
> trigger the big "O". Of course I suspect we lose a lot of programmers
> in beta testing.

Well, we don't seem to have a "sex cortex", rather sex involves plenty of brain systems. Pleasant sensations in the somatosensory and insular cortex, temporal lobe stuff, olfaction, emotional reactions in the cingulate cortex and limbic parts like the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, medial septum, lots of brainstem nuclei and of course hormone influences and various autonomous feedback. The detailled interactions are complex, and can be varied a lot to produce very different sensations (how would sex feel with the periaqueductal grey on and off?). Orgasm is just part of it, an epileptic-like wave of activation in the subcortical systems.

Actually, I think uploads could devise new variations and generalisations of "sex" that would make even the most inventive and kinky embodied humans look downright prudish. Just imagine what you can do with a remappable (or reconfigurable) virtual body, and a brain where stimuli can be put straight into subcortical systems.

> If I recall my psychology classes, rats will stimulate their
> pleasure centers, forgetting to eat or drink. I wonder if humans
> will do the same thing?

Apparently not, in the cases it has been done (as a treatment for cancer pain) they have been able to stop. Actually, many rats also take pauses from brain stimulation to eat and drink when they are hungry/thirsty enough. There are some interesting papers out there about how this may show that the internal value system of mammals is scalar, that there is a kind of common currency for estimating the value of actions.

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