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Misunderstanding Sex

Kyle Munkittrick

Pop Transhumanism

January 28, 2010

If sex is messy and imperfect, we need to improve it, not get rid of it.


Complete entry


Posted by alexxarian  on  01/28  at  11:22 AM

I like the article and fully agree with you although I think you could have gone easier on Goertzel. Fully agree with Emma Goldman’s remark. The way I see it, sex needs to be recognized as one of our most important legacy values, the most important one being love. Change is a dangerous road and we constantly risk losing ourselves, like we should have perfectly understood by now.

Posted by Giulio Prisco  on  01/28  at  12:24 PM

I also think there is nothing in Bens article which deserves Kyle’s over-reaction. You may wish to read the article again.

Ben asked a question, to which everyone can give their own answers. I gave mine (probably similar to yours) in the comment section.

Posted by Ben Goertzel  on  01/28  at  04:10 PM

This comment on my blog post seems not only peculiarly harsh, but systematically distortive….  Tsk tsk tsk.

A few points, among the many I could make…

The quote “all human innovation is a form of courtship display” is presented as if it comes from my own blog post, but it doesn’t.  I don’t promote such a simplistic view of sexual selection or creativity as that.  But still the connection between sexuality and innovation-in-general is real, even if Freud and some others have overblown it.

The implication is subtly made that I somehow want to take peoples’ sex lives away from them.  By no means.

As a human in my personal life, I enjoy sex and have no desire to give it up.  And I would be pissed off at anyone who tried to force me to give it up against my will.  But that wasn’t the point of my article.

I would like to have the option of temporarily eliminating my sex drive at will, and of re-sculpting it myself at will into all sorts of new and interesting forms….  I would like others to have these options (and others) as well.

If some people choose not to exercise these options, that is their problem!

Regarding “the atomization and compartmentalization of human behavior” in general—I know that human behaviors are all complexly entangled with each other, and I think this is often a problem.  It would be better if there were more modularization so that we could more easily tweak ourselves to match our desires.

About “Change is a dangerous road and we constantly risk losing ourselves,”—I don’t mind losing myself if it’s done via a route of my self gradually transforming into something larger and better.  I would like myself and others to have this sort of option.  I would not like to force anyone to take this option.

I hope this clarifies things a bit..

Ben Goertzel

Posted by Kyle Munkittrick  on  01/29  at  10:13 AM

@ Alexxarian, Giulio: The framing of Goertzel’s question and the entire debate stemmed from his introductory analysis of the removal of sex. This sentence in particular: “But when my anti-sex futurist friend speaks of blotting out sexuality from his mind, he doesn’t want to blot out his passion and energy generically:he wants to focus it on things other than simulations or enactions of the reproductive act.” I felt this was the central idea of the post and that the rest of the article’s musings were grounded in this statement, not a neutral point of something like “how does sexuality play into our quest for the Singularity?”

My reaction may have been aggressive, but it wasn’t out of line with the distortions in his framing. One of the most disingenuous rhetorical devices is an allegedly “neutral” tone or “I’m just asking questions,” a la Glenn Beck, when the opening framing of the debate goes largely unchallenged. Goertzel didn’t make this claim (he never said he was neutral), but to make it on his behalf is not a defense.

That said, I admit part of my reaction came from a tremendous respect for Goertzel and I felt let down, which may have added unnecessary emotional fuel to the fire. I’ll work on tempering my responses.

@ Ben Goertzel:
1. Agreed that I wasn’t clear enough on that paraphrasing. Your description of sexuality within the post was overly simplistic. The article is what I was critiquing.

2. I believe you don’t want to take it away without consent, but your final question framed the debate as human sexuality weighed against progress to the Singularity, creating an unnecessary either/or situation. If you want to control sexual urges (I agree we should) and argue in favor of it, excellent, but there are better ways of arguing that point.

3. I simply disagree with the modularization point. We’ll just leave that for another debate.

4. Agreed.

Apologies for the harshness of my reaction.

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