“I zoomed in as she approached the steps of the bridge, taking voyeuristic pleasure in seeing her pixelated cleavage fill the screen.
What was it about those electronic dots that had the power to turn people on? There was nothing real in them, but that never stopped millions of people every day, male and female, from deriving sexual gratification by interacting with those points of light.
Transhumanism is about using technology to improve the human condition. Perhaps a nascent stigma attached to the transhumanist movement in some circles comes from the ethical implications and usage of high technology — bio-tech and nano-tech to name a few, on people. Yet, being transhuman does not necessarily have to be associated with bio-hacking the human body, or entail the donning of cyborg-like prosthetics. Although it is hard not to plainly see and recognize the benefits such human augmentation technology has, for persons in need.
Orgasms and Longevity:
Today, how many normal people, even staunch theists, can claim not to use sexual aids and visual stimulation in the form of video or interaction via video, to achieve sexual satisfaction? It’s hard to deny the therapeutic effect an orgasm has in improving the human condition. In brief, some benefits to health and longevity associated with regular sex and orgasms:
When we orgasm we release hormones, including oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin equals relaxation, and when released it can help us calm down and feel euphoric.
People having more sex add years to their lifespan. Dr. Oz touts a 200 orgasms a year guideline. 
While orgasms usually occur as a result of physical sexual activity, there is no conclusive study that proves beneficial orgasms are only produced when sexual activity involves two humans. Erotica in the form of literature and later, moving images, have been used to stimulate the mind into inducing an orgasm for a good many centuries in the absence of a human partner. As technology is the key enabler in stimulating the mind, what might the sexual choices (preferences?) of the human race — the Transhuman be, going forward?
(Gray Scott speaking on Sexbots at 1:19 minutes into the video)
SexBots and Digital Surrogates [Dirrogates]
Sexbots, or sex robots can come in two forms. Fully digital incarnations with AI, viewed through Augmented Reality visors, or as physical robots — advanced enough to pass off as human surrogates. The porn industry has always been at the fore-front of video and interactive innovation, experimenting with means of immersing the audience into the “action”. Gonzo Porn  is one such technique that started off as a passive linear viewing experience, then progressed to multi-angle DVD interactivity and now to Virtual Reality first person point-of-view interactivity.
Augmented Reality and Digital Surrogates of porn stars performing with AI built in, will be the next logical step. How could this be accomplished?
Somewhere on hard-drives in Hollywood studios, there are full body digital models and “performance capture” files of actors and actresses. When these perf-cap files are assigned to any suitable 3D CGI model, an animator can bring to life the Digital Surrogate [Dirrogate] of the original actor. Coupled with realistic skin rendering using Separable Subsurface Scattering (SSSS) rendering techniques  for instance, and with AI “behaviour” libraries, these Dirrogates can populate the real world, enter living-rooms and change or uplift the mood of person — for the better.
(The above video is for illustration purposes of 3D model data-sets and perf-capture)
With 3D printing of human body parts now possible and blue prints coming online  with full mechanical assembly instructions, the other kind of sexbot is possible. It won’t be long before the 3D laser-scanned blueprint of a porn star sexbot will be available for licensing and home printing, at which point, the average person will willingly transition to transhuman status once the ‘buy now’ button has been clicked.
Programmable matter — Claytronics  will take this technology to even more sophisticated levels.
Sexbots and Ethics:
If we look at Digital Surrogate Sexbot technology, which is a progression of interactive porn, we can see the technology to create such Dirrogate sexbots exists today, and better iterations will come about in the next couple of years. Augmented Reality hardware when married to wearable technology such as ‘fundawear’  and a photo-realistic Dirrogate driven by perf-captured libraries of porn stars under software (AI) control, can bring endless sessions of sexual pleasure to males and females.
Things get complicated as technology evolves, and to borrow a term from Kurzweil, exponentially. Recently the Kinect 2 was announced. This off the shelf hardware ‘game controller’ in the hands of capable hackers has shown what is possible. It can be used as a full body performance capture solution, a 3D laser scanner that can build a replica of a room in realtime and more…
Which means, during a dirrogate sexbot session where a human wears an Augmented Reality visor such as Meta-glass , it would be possible to connect via the internet to your partner, wife or husband and have their live perf-capture session captured by a Kinect 2 controller and drive the photo-realistic Dirrogate of your favorite pornstar.
Would this be the makings of Transhumanist adultry? Some other ethical issues to ponder:
Thou shalt not covet their neighbors wife — But there is no commandant about pirating her perf-capture file.
Will humans, both male or female, prefer sexbots versus human partners for sexual fulfillment? — Will oxytocin release make humans “feel” for their sexbots?
As AI algorithms get better…bordering on artificial sentience, will sexbots start asking for “Dirrogate Rights”?
These are only some of the points worth considering… and if these seem like plausible concerns, imagine what happens in the case of humanoid like physical Sex-bots. As Gray Scott mentions in his video above.
As we evolve into Transhumans, we will find ourselves asking that all important question “What is Real?”
The aim of this short essay is not to delve into philosophy, yet on some level it is un-avoidable when talking about Transhumanism. An important goal of this movement is the use of technology for the enhancement, uplifting and perhaps…the transcendence of the shortcomings of the human condition. Technology in general seems to be keeping pace and is in sync with both Moore’s law and Kurzweil’s law and his predictions.
Yet, there is an emerging strain of Transhumanists — propelled by radical ideology, and if left un-questioned might raise the specter of Eugenics, wreaking havoc and potentially inviting retaliation from the masses. The outcome being, the stymieing human transcendence. One can only hope that along with physical augmentation technology and advances in bio-tech, Eugenics will be a thing of the past.
Soon enough, at least IQ Augmentation technology will be within reach (cost-wise) of the common man — in the form of an on-demand, non-invasive, memory and intelligence augmentation device. So… will Google Glass or similar Intelligence Augmentation device, forever banish the argument for “intellectual” Eugenics? Read an article on 4 ways that Google glass makes us Transhuman.
The following passage from the novel “Memories with Maya” is relevant to that essay.
He took a file out and opened it in front of us. Each paper was watermarked ‘Classified’.
“This is a proposal to regulate and govern the ownership of Dirrogates,” he said.
Krish and I looked at each other, and then we were listening.
“I see it, and I’m sure you both do as well, the immense opportunity there is in licensing Dirrogates to work overseas right at clients’ premises. BPO two point zero like you’ve never seen,” he said. “Our country is a huge business outsourcing destination. Why not have actual Dirrogates working at the client’s facility where they can communicate with other human staff. — Memories with Maya
A little explanation: Dirrogates are Digital Surrogates in the novel. An avatar of a real person, driven by markerless performance capture hardware such as a Kinect-like depth camera. Full skeletal and facial tracking animates a person’s Digital Surrogate and the Dirrogate can be seen by a human wearing Augmented Reality visors. Thus a human (the Dirrogate operator) is able to “tele-travel” to any location on Earth, given its exact geo-coordinates.
At the chosen destination, another depth cam streams a live, real-time 3D model of the room/location so the Dirrogate (operator) can “see” live humans overlaid with a 3D mesh of themselves and a fitted video draped texture map. In essence — a live person cloaked in a Computer generated mesh created in real-time by the depth camera… idea-seeding for Kinect 2 hackers.
What would a Dirrogate look like in the real-world? The video below, is a crude (non photo-realistic) Dirrogate entering the real world.
Dirrogates, Immigration and Pseudo Minduploads:
This brings up the question: If we can have Digital Surrogates, or indeed, pseudo mind-uploads taking on 3D printed mechanical-surrogate bodies, what is the future for physical borders and Immigration policies?
Which brings us to a related point: Does one need a visa to visit the United States of America to “work”?
As an analogy, consider the pseudo mind-upload in the video below.
Does it matter if the boy is in the same town that the school is in or if he were in another country? Now consider the case of a customer service executive, or an immigrant from a third world country using a pseudo mind-upload to Tele-Travel to his work place in down-town New York — to “drive” a Google Taxi Cab until such a time that driverless car AI is perfected.
If the picture header above influenced you to click to read more of this article, then it establishes at least part of my hypothesis: Visual stimuli that trigger our primal urges, supersede all our senses, even over-riding intellect. By that I mean, irrespective of IQ level, the visual alone and not the title of the essay will have prompted a click through –Classic advertising tactic: Sex sells.
Yet, could there be a clue in this behavior to study further, in our quest for Longevity? Before Transhumanism life extension technology such as nano-tech and bio-tech go mainstream… we need to keep our un-amped bodies in a state of constant excitement, using visual triggers that generate positive emotions, thereby hopefully, keeping us around long enough to take advantage of these bio-hacks when they become available.
Emotions on Demand — The “TiVo-ing” of feelings:
From the graphic above, it is easy to extrapolate that ‘positive’ emotions can contribute significantly to Longevity. When we go on a vacation, we’re experiencing the world in a relaxed frame of mind and encoding these experiences, even if sub-consciously, in our brains (minds?). Days, or even years later we can call on these experiences, on-demand, to bring us comfort.
Granted, much like analog recordings… over time, these stored copies of positive emotions will deteriorate, and just as we can today digitize images and sounds, making for pristine everlasting copies… can we digitize Emotions for recall and to experience them on-demand?
How would we go about doing it and what purpose does it serve?
Digitizing Touch: Your Dirrogate’s unique Emotional Signature:
Can we digitize Touch; a crucial building block that contributes to the creation of Emotions? For an answer, we need to look to the (and to some, the questionable) technology behind Teledildonics.
While the tech to experience haptic feed-back has been around for a while, it’s been mostly confined to Virtual Reality simulations and for training purposes. Crude haptic-force feedback gaming controllers are available on the market, but advances in actuators, and nano-scale miniaturization are soon to change that, even going as far as to give us tactile imaging capability — “Smart Skin”
Recently, Durex announced “Fundawear”. It’s purpose? To experience the “touch” of your partner in a fun light-hearted way. Yet, what if a Fundawear session could be recorded and played back later? The unique way your partner touches, forever digitized for playback when desired… allowing you to experience the emotion of joy and happiness at will?
Fundawear can be thought of as a beta v1.0 of something akin to smart-skin in reverse, which could eventually allow a complete “feel-stream” to be digitized and played back on-demand.
Currently we are already able to digitize some faculties that stimulate two of our primary senses:
Sight — via a video camera.
Sound — via microphones.
So how do we go about digitizing and re-creating the sense of Touch?
Solutions such as the one from NuiCapture shown in the video above, in combination with off the shelf game hardware such as the Kinect, can Digitize a whole body “performance” — Also known as performance capture.
Dirrogates and 3D Printing a Person:
In the near future if we get blue-prints to 3D print a person, ready for re-animation and complete with “smart-skin”… such a 3D printed surrogate could reciprocate our touch.
It would be an exercise in imagination, to envision 3D printing your partner, if they couldn’t be with you when you wanted them, or indeed it could raise moral and ethical issues such as ‘adultery’ if an un-authorized 3D printed copy was produced of a person, and their “signature” performance files was pirated.
But with every evil, there is also the good. 3D printers can print guns, or as seen in the video above: a prosthetic hand, allowing a child to experience life the way other children do — That is the ethos of Transhumanism.
Loneliness can kill you:
Well maybe not exactly kill you, but it can negatively impact your health, says The World of Psychology. That would be counterproductive in our quest for Longevity.
A few years ago, companies such as Accenture introduced family collaboration projects. I recommend clicking on the link to read the article, as copyright restrictions prevent including it in this essay. In essence, it allows older relatives to derive emotional comfort from seeing and interacting with their families living miles away.
At a very basic level, we are already Transhuman. No stigma involved… no religious boundaries crossed. This ethical use of technology, can bring comfort to an aging section of society, bettering their condition.
In a relationship, the loss of a loved one can be devastating to the surviving partner, even more so, if the couple had grown old together and shared their good and bad times. Experiencing and re-living memories that transcend photographs and videos, could contribute towards generating positive emotions and thus longevity in the person coping with his/her loss.
While 3D printing and re-animating a person is still a few years away, there is another stop-gap technology: Augmented Reality. With AR visors, we can see and interact with a “Dirrogate” (Digital Surrogate) of another person as though they were in the same room with us. The person’s Dirrogate can be operated in real-time by another person living thousands of miles away… or a digitized touch stream can be called on… long after the human operator is no more.
In the story: “Memories with Maya”, the context and it’s repercussion on our evolution into a Transhuman species, is explored in more detail.
The purpose of this essay is to seed ideas only, and is not to be taken as expert advice.
Transhumanism is all about the creative and ethical use of technology to better the human condition. Futurists, when discussing topics related to transhumanism, tend to look at nano-tech, bio-mechanical augmentation and related technology that, for the most part, is beyond the comprehension of lay-people.
If Transhumanism as a movement is to succeed, we have to explain it’s goals and benefits to humanity by addressing the common-man. After all, transhumanism is not the exclusive domain, nor restricted to the literati, academia or the rich. The more the common man realizes that (s)he is indeed already transhuman in a way — the lesser the taboo associated with the movement and the faster the law of accelerating returns will kick in, leading to eventual Tech Singularity.
Augmented Reality Visors: Enabling Transhumanism.
At the moment, Google Glass is not exactly within reach of the common man, even if he want’s to pay for it. It is “invite only”, which may be counter productive to furthering the Transhumanism cause. Now, to be fair, it may be because the device is still in beta testing, and once any bugs have been ironed out, the general public will benefit from both, a price drop and accessibility, because if Google does not do it, China will.
Google Glass: A Transhumanist’s Swiss Knife
Glass is the very definition of an augmented human, at least until the time hi-tech replaceable eye-balls, or non-obtrusive human augmentation technology becomes common-place. Glass is a good attempt at a wearable computing device that is practical. While it does lend a cyborg look to it’s wearer, future iterations will no doubt, bring the “Matrix” look back into vogue.
Above: Companies such as Vuzix, already have advanced AR capable visors that are aesthetically pleasing to look at and wear. So how is Google Glass (and similar AR visors) the Swiss Army Knife of Transhumanists?
Augmented Human Memory:
Wearing glass, allows a Transhuman to offload his/her memory to glass storage. Everyday examples follow…
- Park your car in a multi-story parking lot, step back a few steps and blink your eyes once. Instant photographic memory of the location via Glass’s wink activated snapshot feature.
- Visited a place once and don’t remember? Call on your “expanded” memory to playback a video recording of the path taken, or display a GPS powered visual overlay in your field of view.
Previously, this was done via a cellphone. In both cases, one is already Transhuman. This is what the common man needs to be made aware of and there will be less of a stigma attached to: The World’s most dangerous idea.
Life Saver — “Glass Angel”
Every one is said to have a “Guardian Angel” watching over them, yet an app named “Glass Angel” would be an apt name for a collection of potentially life saving modules that could run on Google Glass.
- CPR Assist: How many people can honestly say they know CPR? or even the Heimlich maneuver? Crucial moments can be saved when access to such knowledge is available… while freeing up our hands to assist the person in distress. In future iterations of Google glass (glass v2.0?) if true augmented reality capability is provided, a CGI human skeleton can be overlaid on the live patient, giving visual cues to further assist in such kinds of situations.
- Driver Safety: There are some states in the US looking at banning the use of Google Glass while driving. Yet, it is interesting to note that Glass could be that Guardian Angel watching over a driver who might nod off at the wheel after a long day at work. (DUI is not an excuse however to use Glass). The various sensors can monitor for tilt of head and sound an alarm, or even recognize unusual behavior of the wearer by analyzing and tracking the live video feed coming in through the camera…sounding an alarm to warn the wearer.
Augmented Intelligence — or — Amplified Intelligence:
How many times a day do we rely on auto-spell or Google’s auto correct to pop up and say “Did you mean” to warn us of spelling errors or even context errors? How many times have we blindly trusted Google to go ahead and auto-correct for us? While it can be argued that dependence on technology is actually dulling our brains, it is an un-arguable fact that over the coming years, grammar, multi-lingual communication, and more advanced forms of intelligence augmentation will make technology such as Google Glass and it’s successors, indispensable.
Possibly, the Singularity is not all that far away… If the Singularity is the point when Technology overtakes human intelligence… I see it as the point when human intelligence regresses to meet technology, mid-way.
On a more serious note: Should we be alarmed at our increasing dependence on Augmented Intelligence? or should we think of it as simply a storage and retrieval system.
If a lecturer on-stage, addressing a gathering of intellectuals, uses his eyeballs to scroll up a list of synonyms in real time on his Google glass display, to use a more succinct word or phrase when making a point, does that make him sound more intelligent?… how about if he punctuates the point by calling up the german translation of the phrase?
These are questions that I leave open to you…
Digital Bread Crumbs- Quantum Archeology and Immortality.
Every time we share a photo, a thought… an emotion as a status update: we are converting a biological function into a digital one. We are digitizing our analog stream-of-consciousness.
These Digital Breadcrumbs that we leave behind, will be mined by “deep learning” algorithms, feeding necessary data that will drive Quantum Archeology processes… that may one day soon, resurrect us — Digital Resurrection. This might sound like a Transhumanist’s Hansel and Gretel fairy-tale… but not for long.
How does Google Glass fit in? It’s the device that will accelerate the creation of Digital Bread-crumbs. I’d saved this most radical idea for last: Digital Resurrection.
Glass is already generating these BreadCrumbs — transhumanizing the first round of beta testers wearing the device.
The next version of Google Glass, if it features true see-through Augmented Reality support, or indeed a visor from a Google competitor, will allow us to see and interact with these Digital Surrogates of immortal beings. It’s described with plausible hard science to back it up, in Chapter 6 of Memories with Maya — The Dirrogate.
I’d like to end this essay by opening it up to wiki like input from you. What ideas can you come up with to make Google Glass a swiss army knife for Transhumanists?
(This article was originally posted on the Science behind the story section on Dirrogate.com)
A widely accepted definition of Transhumanism is: The ethical use of all kinds of technology for the betterment of the human condition.
This all encompassing summation is a good start as an elevator pitch to laypersons, were they to ask for an explanation. Practitioners and contributors to the movement, of course, know how to branch this out into specific streams: science, philosophy, politics and more.
We are in the midst of a technological revolution, and it is cool to proclaim that one is a Transhumanist. Yet, many intelligent and focused Transhumanists are asking some all important questions: What road-map have we drawn out, and what concrete steps are we taking to bring to fruition, the goals of Transhumanism?
Transhumanism could be looked at as culminating in Technological Singularity. People comprehend the meaning of Singularity differently. One such definition: Singularity marks a moment when technology trumps the human brain, and the limitations of the mind are surpassed by artificial intelligence. Being an Author and not a scientist myself, my definition of the Singularity is colored by creative vision. I call it Dirrogate Singularity.
I see us humans, successfully and practically, harnessing the strides we’ve made in semiconductor tech and neural networks, Artificial intelligence, and digital progress in general over the past century, to create Digital Surrogates of ourselves — our Dirrogates. In doing so, humans will reach pseudo-God status and will be free to merge with these creatures they have made in their own likeness…attaining, Dirrogate Singularity.
So, how far into the future will this happen? Not very far. In fact it can commence as soon as today or as far as, in a couple of years. The conditions and timing are right for us to “trans-form” into Digital Beings; Dirrogates.
I’ll use excerpts from the story ‘Memories with Maya’ to seed ideas for a possible road-map to Dirrogate Singularity, while keeping the tenets of Transhumanism in focus on the dashboard as we steer ahead. As this text will deconstruct many parts of the novel, major spoilers are unavoidable.
Dirrogate Singularity v/s The Singularity:
The main distinction in definition I make is: I don’t believe Singularity is the moment when technology trumps the human brain. I believe Singularity is when the human mind accepts and does not discriminate between an advanced “Transhuman” (effectively, a mind upload living in a bio-mechanical body) and a “Natural” (an un-amped homo sapien)
This could be seen as a different interpretation of the commonly accepted concept of The Singularity. As one of the aims of this essay is to create a possible road-map to seed ideas for the Transhumanism movement, I choose to look at a wholly digital path to Transhumanism, bypassing human augmentation via nanotechnology, prosthetics or cyborg-ism. As we will see further down, Dirrogate Singularity could slowly evolve into the common accepted definitions of Technological Singularity.
What is a Dirrogate:
A portmanteau of Digital + Surrogate. An excerpt from the novel explains in more detail:
“Let’s run the beta of our social interaction module outside.”
Krish asked the prof to follow him to the campus ground in front of the food court. They walked out of the building and approached a shaded area with four benches. As they were about to sit, my voice came through the phone’s speaker. “I’m on your far right.”
Krish and the prof turned, scanning through the live camera view of the phone until they saw me waving. The phone’s compass updated me on their orientation. I asked them to come closer.
“You have my full attention,” the prof said. “Explain…”
“So,” Krish said, in true geek style… “Dan knows where we are, because my phone is logged in and registered into the virtual world we have created. We use a digital globe to fly to any location. We do that by using exact latitude and longitude coordinates.” Krish looked at the prof, who nodded. “So this way we can pick any location on Earth to meet at, provided of course, I’m physically present there.”
“I understand,” said the prof. “Otherwise, it would be just a regular online multi-player game world.”
“Precisely,” Krish said. “What’s unique here is a virtual person interacting with a real human in the real world. We’re now on the campus Wifi.” He circled his hand in front of his face as though pointing out to the invisible radio waves. “But it can also use a high-speed cell data network. The phone’s GPS, gyro, and accelerometer updates as we move.”
Krish explained the different sensor data to Professor Kumar. “We can use the phone as a sophisticated joystick to move our avatar in the virtual world that, for this demo, is a complete and accurate scale model of the real campus.”
The prof was paying rapt attention to everything Krish had to say. “I laser scanned the playground and the food-court. The entire campus is a low rez 3D model,” he said. “Dan can see us move around in the virtual world because my position updates. The front camera’s video stream is also mapped to my avatar’s face, so he can see my expressions.”
“Now all we do is not render the virtual buildings, but instead, keep Daniel’s avatar and replace it with the real-world view coming in through the phone’s camera,” explained Krish.
“Hmm… so you also do away with render overhead and possibly conserve battery life?” the prof asked.
“Correct. Using GPS, camera and marker-less tracking algorithms, we can update our position in the virtual world and sync Dan’s avatar with our world.”
“And we haven’t even talked about how AI can enhance this,” I said.
I walked a few steps away from them, counting as I went.
“We can either follow Dan or a few steps more and contact will be broken. This way in a social scenario, virtual people can interact with humans in the real world,” Krish said. I was nearing the personal space out of range warning.
“Wait up, Dan,” Krish called.
I stopped. He and the prof caught up.
“Here’s how we establish contact,” Krish said. He touched my avatar on the screen. I raised my hand in a high-five gesture.
“So only humans can initiate contact with these virtual people?” asked the prof.
“Humans are always in control,” I said. They laughed.
“Aap Kaise ho?” Krish said.
“Main theek hoo,” I answered a couple of seconds later, much to the surprise of the prof.
“The AI module can analyze voice and cross-reference it with a bank of ten languages.” he said. “Translation is done the moment it detects a pause in a sentence. This way multicultural communication is possible. I’m working on some features for the AI module. It will be based on computer vision libraries to study and recognize eyebrows and facial expressions. This data stream will then be accessible to the avatar’s operator to carry out advanced interaction with people in the real world–”
“So people can have digital versions of themselves and do tasks in locations where they cannot be physically present,” the prof completed Krish’s sentence.
“Cannot or choose not to be present and in several locations if needed,” I said. “There is no reason we can’t own several digital versions of ourselves doing tasks simultaneously.”
“Each one licensed with a unique digital fingerprint registered with the government or institutions offering digital surrogate facilities.” Krish said.
“We call them di-rro-gates.” I said.
One of the characters in the story also says: “Humans are creatures of habit.” and, “We live our lives following the same routine day after day. We do the things we do with one primary motivation–comfort.”
Whether this is entirely true or not, there is something to think about here… What does ‘improving the human condition’ imply? To me Comfort, is high on the list and a major motivation. If people can spawn multiple Dirrogates of themselves that can interact with real people wearing future iterations of Google Glass (for lack of a more popular word for Augmented Reality visors)… then the journey on the road-map to Dirrogate Singularity is to see a few case examples of Dirrogate interaction.
In writing the novel, I took several risks, story length being one. I’ve attempted to keep the philosophy subtle, almost hidden in the story, and judging by reviews on sites such as GoodReads.com, it is plain to see that many of today’s science fiction readers are after cliff hanger style science fiction and gravitate toward or possibly expect a Dystopian future. This root craving must be addressed in lay people if we are to make Transhumanism as a movement, succeed.
I’d noticed comments made that the sex did not add much to the story. No one (yet) has delved deeper to see if there was a reason for the sex scenes and if there was an underlying message. The success of Transhumanism is going to be in large scale understanding and mass adoption of the values of the movement by laypeople. Google Glass will make a good case study in this regard. If they get it wrong, Glass will quickly share the same fate and ridicule as wearing blue-tooth headsets.
One of the first things, in my view, to improving the human condition, is experiencing pleasure… of every kind, especially carnal.
In that sense, we already are Digital Transhumans. Long distance video calls, teledildonics and recent mainstream offerings such as Durex’s “Fundawear” can bring physical, emotional and psychological comfort to humans, without the traditional need for physical proximity or human touch.
(Durex’s Fundawear – Image Courtesy Snapo.com)
These physical stimulation and pleasure giving devices add a whole new meaning to ‘wearable computing’. Yet, behind every online Avatar, every Dirrogate, is a human operator. Now consider: What if one of these “Fundawear” sessions were recorded?
The data stream for each actuator in the garment, stored in a file – a feel-stream, unique to the person who created it? We could then replay this and experience or reminisce the signature touch of a loved one at any time…even long after they are gone; are no more. Would such as situation qualify as a partial or crude “Mind upload”?
Mind Uploading – A practical approach.
Using Augmented Reality hardware, a person can see and experience interaction with a Dirrogate, irrespective if the Dirrogate is remotely operated by a human, or driven by prerecorded subroutines under playback control of an AI. Mind uploading [at this stage of our technological evolution] does not have to be a full blown simulation of the mind.
Consider the case of a Google Car. Could it be feasible that a human operator remotely ‘drive’ the car with visual feedback from the car’s on-board environment analysis cameras? Any AI in the car could be used on an as-needed basis. Now this might not be the aim of a driver-less car, and why would you need your Dirrogate to physically drive when in essence you could tele-travel to any location?
Human Shape Shifters:
Reasons could be as simple as needing to transport physical cargo to places where home delivery is not offered. Your Dirrogate could drive the car. Once at the location [hardware depot], your Dirrogate could merge with the on-board computer of an articulated motorized shopping cart. Check out counter staff sees your Dirrogate augmented in the real world via their visor. You then steer the cart to the parking lot, load in cargo [via the cart’s articulated arm or a helper] and drive home. In such a scenario, a mind upload has swapped physical “bodies” as needed, to complete a task.
If that use made your eyes roll…here’s a real life example:
Devon Carrow, a 2nd grader has a life threatening illness that keeps him away from school. He sends his “avatar” a robot called Vigo.
In the case of a Dirrogate, if the classroom teacher wore an AR visor, she could “see” Devon’s Dirrogate sitting at his desk. A mechanical robot body would be optional. An overhead camera could project the entire Augmented classroom so all children could be aware of his presence. As AR eye-wear becomes more affordable, individual students could interact with Dirrogates. Such use of Dirrogates do fit in completely with the betterment-of-the-human-condition argument, especially if the Dirrogate operator is a human who could come into harm’s way in the real world.
While we simultaneously work on longevity and eliminating deadly diseases, both noble causes, we have to come to terms with the fact that biology has one up on us in the virus department as of today. Epidemic outbreaks such as SARS can keep schools closed. Would it not make sense to maintain the communal ethos of school attendance and classroom interaction by transhumanizing ourselves…digitally?
Does the above example qualify as Mind Uploading? Not in the traditional definition of the term. But looking at it from a different perspective, the 2nd grader has uploaded his mind to a robot.
Dirrogate Immortality via Quantum Archeology:
Below is a passage from the story. The literal significance of which, casual readers of science fiction miss out on:
“Look at her,” I said. “I don’t want her to be a just a memory. I want to keep her memory alive. That day, the Wizer was part of the reason for three deaths. Today, it’s keeping me from dying inside.”
“Help me, Krish,” I said. “Help me keep her memory alive.” He was listening. He wiped his eyes with his hands. I took the Wizer off. “Put it back on,” he said.
A closer look at the Wizer – [visor with Augmented Intelligence built in.]
The preceding excerpt from the story talks about resurrecting her; digital-cryonics.
So, how would Quantum Archeology techniques be applied to resurrect a dead person? Every day we spend hours uploading our stream-of-consciousness to the “cloud”. Photos, videos, Instagrams, Facebook status updates, tweets. All of this is data that can be and is being mined by Deep Learning systems. There’s no prize for guessing who the biggest investor and investigator of Deep Learning is.
Quantum Archeology gets a helping hand with all the digital breadcrumbs we’re leaving around us in this century. The question is: Is that enough information for us to Create a Mind?
Mind Uploading – Libraries and Subroutines:
A more relevant question to ask is, should we attempt to build a mind from the ground up, or start by collecting subroutines and libraries unique to a particular person? Earlier on in the article, it was suggested that by recording a ‘Fundawear’ session, we could re-experience someone’s signature intimate touch. Using Deep Learning, can personality libraries be built?
A related question to answer is: Wouldn’t it make everything ‘artificial’ and be a degraded version of the original? To attempt to answer such a question, let’s look around us today. Aren’t we already degrading our sense of hearing for instance, when we listen to hour after hour of MP3 music sampled at 128kHz or less? How about every time we’ve come to rely on Google’s “did you mean” or Microsoft’s red squiggly line to correct even our simple spellings?
Now, it gets interesting… since we have mind upload “libraries”, we are at liberty to borrow subroutines from more accomplished humans, to augment our own intelligence.
Will the near future allow us to choose a Dirrogate partner with the creative thinking of one person’s personality upload, the intimate skill-set of another and… you get the picture. Most people lead routine 9 to 5 lives. That does not mean that they are not missed by loved ones after they have completed their biological life-cycle. Resurrecting or simulating such minds is much easier than say re-animating Einstein.
In the story, Krish, on digitally resurrecting his father recounts:
“After I saw Maya, I had to,” he said. “I’ve used her same frame structure for the newspaper reading. Last night I went through old photos, his things, his books,” his voice was low. “I’m feeding them into the frame. This was his life for the past two years before the cancer claimed him. Every evening he would sit in this chair in the old house and read his paper.”
I listened in silence as he spoke. Tactile receptors weren’t needed to experience pain. Tone of voice transported those spores just as easily.
“It was easy to create a frame for him, Dan,” he said. “In the time that the cancer was eating away at him, the day’s routine became more predictable. At first he would still go to work, then come home and spend time with us. Then he couldn’t go anymore and he was at home all day. I knew his routine so well it took me 15 minutes to feed it in. There was no need for any random branches.”
I turned to look at him. The Wizer hid his eyes well. “Krish,” I said. “You know what the best part about having him back is? It does not have to be the way it was. You can re-define his routine. Ask your mom what made your dad happy and feed that in. Build on old memories, build new ones and feed those in. You’re the AI designer… bend the rules.”
“I dare not show her anything like this,” he said. “She would never understand. There’s something not right about resurrecting the dead. There’s a reason why people say rest in peace.”
Who is the real Transhuman?
Is it a person who has augmented their physical self or augmented one of their five primary senses? Or is it a human who has successfully re-wired their brain and their mind to accept another augmented human and the tenets of Transhumanism?
“He said perception is in the eye of the beholder… or something to that effect.”
“Maybe he said realism?” I offered.
“Yeah. Maybe. Turns out he is a believer and subscribes to the concept of transhumanism,” Krish said, adjusting the Wizer on the bridge of his nose. “He believes the catalyst for widespread acceptance of transhumanism has to be based on visual fidelity or the entire construct will be stymied by the human brain and mind.”
“Hmm… the uncanny valley effect? It has to be love at first sight, if we are to accept an augmented person huh.”
“Didn’t know you followed the movement,” he said.
“Look around us. Am I really here in person?”
“Point taken,” he said.
While taking the noble cause of Transhumanism forward, we have to address one truism that was put forward in the movie, The Terminator: “It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves.”
When we eventually reach a full mind-upload stage and have the ability to swap or borrow libraries from other ‘minds’, will personality traits of greed still be floating around as rogue libraries? Perhaps the common man is right – A Dystopian future is on the cards, that’s why science fiction writers gravitate toward dystopia worlds.
Could this change as we progress from transhuman to post-human?
In building a road-map for Transhumanism, we need to present and evangelize more to the common man in language and scenarios they can identify with. That is one of the main reasons Memories with Maya features settings and language that at times, borders on juvenile fiction. Concepts such as life extension, reversal of aging and immortality can be made to resound better with laypeople when presented in the right context. There is a reason that Vampire stories are on the nation’s best seller lists.
People are intrigued and interested in immortality.
Of the two images above, as a typical Science Fiction reader, which would you gravitate towards? In designing the cover for my book I ran about 80 iterations of 14 unique designs through a group of beta readers, and the majority chose the one with the Green tint. (design credit: Dmggzz)
No one could come up with a satisfying reason on why they preferred it over the other, except that it “looked more sci-fi” I settled for the design on the right, though it was a very hard decision to make. I was throwing away one of the biggest draws to a book — An inviting Dystopian book cover.
As an Author (and not a scientist) myself, I’ve noticed that scifi readers seem to want dystopian fiction –exclusively. A quick glance at reader preferences in scifi on sites such as GoodReads shows this. Yet, from noticing Vampire themed fiction rule the best seller lists, and from box office blockbusters, we can assume, the common man and woman is also intrigued by Longevity and Immortality.
Why is it so hard for sci-fi fans to look to the “brighter side” of science. Look at the latest Star Trek for instance…Dystopia. Not the feel good, curiosity nurturing theme of Roddenberry. This is noted in a post by Gray Scott on the website ImmortalLife.
I guess my question is: Are there any readers or Futurology enthusiasts that crave a Utopian future in their fiction and real life, or are we descending a spiral staircase (no pun) into eventual Dystopia. In ‘The Dirrogate — Memories with Maya’, I’ve tried to (subtly) infuse the philosophy of transhumanism — technology for the betterment of humans.
At Lifeboat, the goal is ‘encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies.’ We need to reach out to the influencers of lay people, the authors, the film-makers… those that have the power to evangelize the ethos of Transhumanism and the Singularity, to paint the truth: Science and Technology advancement is for the betterment of the human race.
It would be naive to think that technology would not be abused and a Dystopia world is indeed a scary and very real threat, but my belief is: We should guide (influence?) people to harness this “fire” to nurture and defend humanity, via our literature and movies, and cut back on seeding or fueling ideas that might lead to the destruction of our species.