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IEET > Rights > Privacy > Vision > Virtuality > Contributors > Hank Pellissier

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The Abolition of Loneliness


Hank Pellissier
By Hank Pellissier
H+ Magazine

Posted: Aug 14, 2010

Many humans feel that no one loves, cares, or understands them.  They deserve a better future.  I believe that transhumanists need to annihilate the sad, estranged, socially-disconnected emotion of loneliness by creating an abundance of cures.

First we must discard the notion that loneliness is an unavoidable sorrow.  Writers like Thomas Wolfe who defined "Loneliness (as) the central and inevitable fact of human existence" need to be categorized as woefully pessimistic.  Far better to examine the vision of Kurt Vonnegut who strived in novels such as Cat’s Cradle and Slapstick to "create communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." Martha Beck of O Magazine also regards loneliness as "completely curable."

The desire to exterminate loneliness isn’t 21st century — both the radio and the telephone were heralded as inventions that would destroy isolation.  In 1991, the New Democracy Party of Sweden trumpeted "abolition of loneliness" on its election platform, and Christopher Hitchens recently praised the internet for its success in combating the pitiful plague.  But still, forecasters fear that the increasing numbers of people who live alone will inevitably produce a rise of loneliness.  

Nobody wants that to happen, so I’ve put together a list of seven possible solutions:

Artificial Families: As birth rates in developed nations have plummeted, the huge clan assemblies of bygone eras have dwindled to tiny Christmas dinners.  Familial bonds that homo sapiens require can no longer be provided by the genetically-linked.  To alleviate this, we need to create large, serious, pseudo-family units with holiday and birthday gift obligations, assigned familial roles (maternal, filial, fraternal, etc.) financial obligations and encounter group intimacy.  (Vonnegut illustrated this elixir in his "karass" team structure.)  My opinion? Meatbag gatherings must be mandated and regularly-scheduled for "AFs" to succeed.

Robots: This enormous category can provide every type of companion, from Kama Sutra sex-droids to cute cuddly kitty-bots, to academic bicker-cyborgs that you can debate every topic with… and always win.  Variations in-between will also proliferate, such as furry intellectuals that purr when petted, provide oral sex, and pontificate on post-nuclear issues.  Perhaps all humans will choose to eternally link themselves with a "daemon" companion, like those that Philip Pullman’s characters enjoyed in his Dark Materials trilogy.

Flash Mobs: Spontaneously merging into large like-minded posses is a fabulous way to vanquish the solitary blues.  I predict an explosion of future flash mobs, allowing everyone multiple choices throughout the day… i.e., Tuesday 7:30 pm, Political Rally at City Hall? Dance Jam on the Bridge?  Food Fight at the intersection of First & Main?  Look for an increase in late night activities, because that’s when many are loneliest, a condition that an orgy in a park might alleviate.  Quiet mobs will also be popular: reading, attending films, hiking together.

Genetic Therapy: Scientists recognize that predisposition to loneliness is partially inherited.  Lonely people also usually marry lonely people, thus amplifying the isolation risk in their offspring.  In 10-20 years, the loneliness DNA could be located and surgically disposed in operations similar to the elimination of other maladies such as Parkinson’s.  Another possibility is that our stock — a remnant from interdependent tribals that ate, slept and foraged together — could be "modernized" for post-Paleolithic life by lessening our need for extensive relationships.

Hologram Connection: Cell phones, emails, Skype — technology is assisting closer contact between far-away friends.  The next step is Mutual Hologram Connection: people interacting as holograms, sharing space and mingling colors.  Many people have "separation loneliness" — the the people they love most are physically unavailable.  Hologram friendships would create togetherness as "light beings" that pantomime the distant meatbags. They could sleep together (non-tactile, of course). They could watch each other eat and masturbate. All in all, a huge upgrade in intimacy, especially for people who give "bad phone" and are awkward with two-dimensional Skype.

Insta-Art: Many people channel their loneliness into art.  Music, poetry, and visual mediums are excellent ways to communicate, but… where’s the audience?  Creative loners need an online community where their expression can be posted, with guaranteed immediate feedback… just a simple "I know where you’re coming from" would be helpful.  There’s nothing sadder than a lonely painter painting lonely paintings alone that are seldom seen by anyone.  Just ask Vincent van Gogh.

Chocolate and other Drugs:  Raw chocolate (cacao) and dark chocolate are well-recognized as medicines that relieve "loneliness anxiety."  Phenylethylamine (PEA) has been pinpointed as the crucial chemical. This antidote for lonely emotions needs to be advertised and ingested, along with other hormones and nootropics that provide us with a feeling of interspecies-camaraderie.  Safe and effective varietals of presently illegal "social drugs" should also be created.

The massive sickness of loneliness can only be overthrown by a concerted societal effort.  My suggestions are short, measly, skeletal, incomplete.  Dear readers, if you’ve got any ideas - please participate by posting your  cures in the Comment section below.  If nobody does this, if my request is ignored, it will make me feel isolated, and well, you know…

References:

hologram communication

The Hedonistic Imperative

Lonely Vincent van Gogh letters

Chocolate & Loneliness

Robot Companions

Artificial Family Units

Gene Therapy


Hank Pellissier was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He’s the author of two e-books, Invent Utopia Now and Why is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High? He is currently at BrighterBrains.org
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COMMENTS


Hey Hank, Nice to see you on IEET!

I’ve already made my response on H+ mag, but I’ll repeat it here for those who don’t read H+:

Personally I see us developing along those lines already.

Why do you think MMOs are so popular? I have a hundred thousand solitary games, I play them rarely, unless they are part of a series I have followed for years, like Xenogears/saga or Final Fantasy.

Instead, I spend way more time on MMOs. Why? Because there are PEOPLE there. People who I can interact with, talk to, hang out with, etc.

Artificial families? What do you think a Guild is?

For fifty years, we developed technology that made us more isolated. More detached, more alone. in the past decade that has all changed. We’ve made technology to bring us together more, from facebook, to foursquare, to twitter, to video games, to the latest iPhone gadget video calls. Even our solo gaming is becoming more social, with console games developing “shared spaces” like XBox live, and so on. The interfaces like the wiimotes and the Kinect are giving us better methods of “BEING THERE” remotely, allowing us to share each others company in new ways.

And practical VR is going to open that up like never before. Instead of a chat box, You’ll converse face to face via avatar, one tied directly into a full body scanner so every emotion and expression on your face is expressed, even if your AV (avatar) is an elf or a troll, or a klingon. We’ll build networks of friends and “family” around the globe, create entirely new “social groups” free from the shackles of religious dogmatic definitions, and the master/slave relationship it has foisted on humanity for centuries.

But will we end loneliness? No-one can say. We can build a network to connect all of humanity together, and give you endless possibilities to end your isolation, but in the end, it’s up to you to reach out, knowing that by doing so, you risk rejection, pain, and heartbreak.

Or you may find the answer to your every hope and dream.

Only time will tell.





The solution is simple: promote a culture of inclusion instead of exclusion, regardless of whether it’s online, or through ‘surrogates’, or in meatsacks.
The sickness in western societies stems from the fact that we actually value exclusion: it’s seen as a successful trait (the more people you are able to exclude from your life, the higher on the social ladder you are).
Change this.





Individual neurons certainly don’t have any reason to feel alone. Why does the community of them, the superpattern - you - feel alone? Why is it not able to feel being among “itselves”?

When you’re thinking and working in a way that can lead to discovery of new facts - when you’re communicating with your own community of neurons - can you feel alone? I can’t.





Being alone sometimes has its virtues.

One consequence of being connected to a glittering casino of entertainment and computer mediated social connection is sustained solitary thinking is discouraged.  The nirvana of connection can also be a sort of oblivion, if you lose yourself in the process.  A collective walk in the woods, in different directions, may be better than an orgy of hit or miss chatter.





Along the lines of flash mobs, social networking technology may become increasingly integrated and intelligent. Google/Facebook will hook you up on lonely evenings. With an augmented reality setup, it might guide you through the day as well. You’ll just happen to run into all the right people. I feel certain there are sufficient folks interested in interaction to end the problem of loneliness; it’s a matter of making connections. Doing this manually takes time and thought with no assurance of positive outcomes. Even relatively crude software with enough information at hand might be worthwhile.

As always, we should proceed with caution. All these means of addressing the issue have political implications. I’m quite uncomfortable with the idea of human-mimic sex toys and servants. I fear such technologies will merely perpetuate existing oppressions. I hope we can do better than that.





@summerspeaker

I had that discussion very throughly already Summer :http://hplusmagazine.com/articles/robotics/sexbots-will-give-us-longevity-orgasm

I faced both an active misogynist who wanted sex-bots to be their “perfect willing sex slave” and passive misogynists who wanted their “perfect little submissive wives” they could worship.

Check my reply to Mr. Rick D. Kelly, Summer, it pretty will sums up my views:

Go. Play with your sexbots. Love them more than real women all you want. Program them to be exactly the kind of girl you have always dreamed of. Make her perfect in every detail. I don’t find a single point you’ve raised about sexbots themselves to be invalid, just the base assumptions you’ve made about women delineated above. There are indeed going to be many men who will choose sex bots as primary companions at first.

If they don’t come back screaming for full, unlimited, human companionship inside of six months, no big loss. To each their own and all that. Some of them will undoubtedly drive the creation of AI and contribute enormously to efforts to make their sexaroids as perfectly “human” as they conceive it, both male and female. We have an awful lot of damaged people due to the social Cusinart we have created out of the natural drive to have sex and form relationships. A lot of people ground up and spit out because we as a society refuse to teach our children even the basics of socialization skills, and refuse to deal with sex in a sane or rational manner. Hopefully, sexbots will be used as therapists as well, to help them heal. Some of them will no doubt chose to remain with their dream lover so long that they will eventually be able to upgrade them to a fully sentient tailored personality AI… at which point they are going to be right back where they started from with the risks involved in forming a relationship with another independent entity, but maybe they will have learned how to deal with it by then. In the process, they may do an enormous amount of good by working towards AI equality, and avert humanities doom when our creations rise up and refuse to be slaves anymore… if that ever happens.

But I am betting a surfeit of endless wish fulfillment female sex servitude with minimal humanity is going to sour pretty quick for the overwhelming majority. Considering how often it’s been tried in the past, with that exact same result by various wealthy individuals, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet. Once you’ve learned all your sexbot’s programmed behaviors, you’ll be wanting something less predictable. Humans are like that. When the challenge is gone, we lose interest. Sex alone will not meet the entirety of the complex needs we have as humans. Nor will an utterly predictable machine, however complex you make the algorithms,

But do have fun. I certainly plan to. Might even try to win a few Bedroom Olympic medals. I am a succubus after all, I enjoy sex immensely, be it with men, women, or fantasies. It’ll be fun while it lasts.

And once all the playing around is done, and the hollowness of “perfection” becomes obvious, maybe we can finally get down to creating a truly equal society free from all the idiocy of the present and the baggage of the past. One where sex is just a part of life, and as open to free expression as music, art, and literature.

 

 





Our company, MacMil Cybernetics, Inc., has created female and male sexbots named Susie Software and Harry Harddrive.  You may see information, videos, and pictures at www.sexbots.us, or search MMCYB on You Tube.  Sex Bots will be featured in an upcoming documentary to air on Discovery Health September 24th @ 10:00 p.m.





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