Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Summa Technologiae, Or Why The Trouble With Science Is Religion

Technoprogressive Declaration - Transvision 2014

Transhumanism: A Glimpse into the Future of Humanity

Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality

How America’s Obsession With Bad Birth Control Hurts and Even Kills Women

A decade of uncertainty in nanoscale science and engineering


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 21, 2014)

Peter Wicks on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 21, 2014)

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

Peter Wicks on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

instamatic on 'Pastor-Turned-Atheist Coaches Secular Church Start-Ups' (Nov 20, 2014)

Michael Nuschke on 'What is Technoprogressivism?' (Nov 19, 2014)

@andy00778 on 'Does Religion Cause More Harm than Good? Brits Say Yes. Here’s Why They May be Right.' (Nov 19, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Why Running Simulations May Mean the End is Near
Nov 3, 2014
(20324) Hits
(13) Comments

Does Religion Cause More Harm than Good? Brits Say Yes. Here’s Why They May be Right.
Nov 18, 2014
(18902) Hits
(1) Comments

2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?
Oct 26, 2014
(14463) Hits
(33) Comments

Decentralized Money: Bitcoin 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0
Nov 10, 2014
(8514) Hits
(1) Comments



IEET > Life > Enablement > Implants > Health > Vision > Futurism > Staff > Hank Pellissier

Print Email permalink (15) Comments (79935) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


The Ukrainian “Human Barbie Doll” - Valeria Lukyanova - is this the future of cosmetic enhancement?


Hank Pellissier
By Hank Pellissier
Transhumanity.net

Posted: May 18, 2012

Immaculate doll-face, globulous breasts, teeny waist, slender limbs, vacant ice-blue eyes, long platinum hair - Valeria Lukyanova of Odessa, Ukraine, has re-designed her physical form to resemble Barbie, the plastic Mattel toy. Is the result “beautiful”? Critics screech that she’s “creepy” and “lifeless” with an “uncanny valley” absence of sexuality, but… let’s not kid ourselves here.

The 5’ 7” 21-year-old Plastic Fantastic internet sensation is lauded as extraordinarily desirable - an ideal female aesthetic - by thousands of commenters and 215,000+ “Like” clickers on her Facebook page that’s only 24 days old. Plus she’s been awarded mainstream attention by ForbesHuffingtonPost, Daily Mail, Fox News, ABC News, New York Daily News, and International Business Times. Eventually, millions of wide-eyed adorers will gaze greedily at the 11,00 photos of her already online.

“Barbie” - the doll - has been castigated since her development in 1959 as a female caricature with impossible-to-attain proportions. Valeria hasn’t precisely copied her mentor’s dimensions - she’d need a 39-18-33 ratio at 6’ in height - but her curves - created via dozens of nips, tucks and lifts at the supposed cost of $800,000 - resemble the plastic icon close enough to re-animate the original prepubescent lust of many grown males, who secretly undressed, long ago, the dolls of their sisters.

Does the emergence of this life-size Barbie clone represent the future of cosmetic enhancement? Will other girls/women follow in the faux-Barbie’s slim pointy footsteps? Will thousands of ribs be removed to achieve the minuscule belly? (Valerie’s goal, she claims, is to be photosynthetic, a sun-eater, avoiding digestion entirely.) Will millions of chins and cheeks be chiseled to achieve her dainty visage? Will breasts world-wide be pumped up to impersonate her pontoon mammaries?

The answer to these questions is Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes they already have. Truth is, Miss Lukyanova’s plagiarism of a hottie icon trails South Korea’s idol-mimicry by at least half a decade. In Seoul - widely regarded as the world capital of plastic surgery - cosmetic enhancement is avidly accepted by the masses, entrenched in the culture. An estimated 20% of all SK women between the ages of 19-49 have had “some work done.” Additionally, it’s popular in SK to get your features restructured so you can resemble a hallyu star. The phrase, “imitation is the highest form of flattery” is taken seriously in East Asia; fans who identify with a beautiful TV soap opera or K-pop star can fulfill their desire to look like Lee Young-Ae, Kim Hee-Sun, Song Hye-Gyo, or Han Ga-In, by scheduling appointments in the Gangnam district of Seoul, where over 400 plastic surgery clinics and skin-treatment centers are located.

The West has not traveled down this copy-cat road as quickly, perhaps due to it’s higher regard for individuality. Taylor Swift has made squinty eyes and lace dresses popular, and Justin Beiber’s haircut is “cool” with middle schoolers, but few Caucasians have carved themselves up to resemble the famous. A notable exception is the OctoMom - Nadya Suleman - who hijacked the full lips and vulpine face of Angelina Jolie. Suleman is derided, justifiably, as an unlikable loon, and her brazen rip-off of Brad’s beau’s face has perhaps stalled copy-cat cosmetology in the West.

But now, the arrival of “Barbie” from the Ukraine… Her emergence from the ex-Soviet steppe-locale appears, simultaneously, both complicated and unsurprising. The Ukraine is known for both it’s radical feminism and it’s stunningly lovely XX gender - Traveler’s Digest recently selected the women of Kiev (the capitol) as the planet’s most beautiful.

The Ukraine activist group FEMEN is possibly the most visible, revolutionary feminist squad in the world today, organized by three women who committed themselves to “Marxism, instead of Marriage.”  FEMEN primarily opposes the legalization of prostitution and sex-tourism in its homeland, but it’s also staged demonstrations against Vladimir Putin (for being a “Gas Gangster”), Pope Benedict XVI (“Pope, Get Out of my Pussy!”),  Paris Hilton (for supporting the “corrupt” modeling industry), Dominique Strauss (for being “the symbol of lawless, arrogant rapists”), the embassies of Iran (for stoning women to death) and Egypt (to support the revolution), and it journeyed to Turkey (to protest domestic violence).

What is FEMEN’s primary “activist technique”? Toplessness. FEMEN’s protests are invariably led by young, attractive, bare-breasted women, a maneuver that guarantees the group street attention and press coverage.

I haven’t located any FEMEN opinions of Valeria Lukyanova, but I don’t think they regard her self-acquired shapeliness as a anti-feminist statement. If Valerie was a prostitute they’d decry her activities, but she’s not - her appearance lures attention to her career as a model, an esoteric singer (she claims to have written 70 songs) and a New Age spiritual-philosopher.  Capturing media gaze via sex appeal is, of course, a strategy that FEMEN itself does quite brazenly.

Returning now to examine Valeria Lukyanova’s fixed plasticine form, let us speculate…

In the fast-approaching future:

Will entire malls be filled with lookalike Barbies shopping for Barbie clothes? Accompanied by lookalike Ken-males?

Will these perfect people line up to sip smoothie drinks alongside other desirables, representing Latin, African, Asian, Arab, etc., startlets-and-stars-of-the-month? 

Will transforming our face and physique be easy and cheap in the next generation, in surgeries as simple as dental cleaning?

Will we abandon flesh-love altogether, preferring instead, sex liaisons with cyborg Barbies, Kens, and Kim Hee-Suns?

Will sex in the future be entirely virtual / pornographic?

Will we become nanobot-beings, metamorphosing into whatever enticing shape we want?

Will we be empathetically deeper, in love - and turned on - by kindness and wisdom; will we be absolutely disinterested in physical form, orgasming instead via emotional and intellectual channels?

Or… finally… will we have all these options, and more, in a highly-variable society that offers dozens of choices in lifestyle menus that continue to expand, exponentially?

I don’t know. Predictions?  I don’t see Valeria Lukyanova as instantly forgotten. I see her as a historical marker, a pioneer in a trend - where we actualize our desire to become our favorite toys.

The result?  “Spidermans” fly through our cities.  “Incredible Hulks” crash our parties. Everyday is Halloween.


This article can be viewed in an updated version with additional photos, HERE


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
Print Email permalink (15) Comments (79936) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


I think you might have your answer with the “every day is Halloween” comment. People like to dress up, but changing their identity is another thing. I think in the West where personal identity is important that this extreme copy cat surgery will be rarer. Of course we are already copy cats in terms of the fad of the day. Angelina’s lips are on offer at every plastic surgeons, and one shops for noses by looking at celebs. As the price of surgery comes down the rush to perceived perfection will increase. The problem will come when Barbie is out and Twiggy is in.





I don’t find her sexually attractive.

I’m more of a Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, Monica Bellucci, Morena Baccarin kind of guy.

I like women who don’t look like they’ll break, or blow over in a slight breeze.

But, that’s just me. I actually do find her kind of creepy, but not in a bad way - I like being creeped out a little.

I do find her attractive conceptually. The very fact that she’s done what she’s done is fascinating, and assuming what she’s done is healthy (I’m not an advocate of psychologically scarring one self) then I support what she does.

In the same vein that I support Lepht Anonym, and for the same reasons.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/transcending-the-human-diy-style/





Almost forgot to answer the questions at the end of the article:

Will transforming our face and physique be easy and cheap in the next generation, in surgeries as simple as dental cleaning?

Yes.

Will sex in the future be entirely virtual / pornographic?

Yes.

Will we become nanobot-beings, metamorphosing into whatever enticing shape we want?

Yes.

Will we be empathetically deeper, in love - and turned on - by kindness and wisdom; will we be absolutely disinterested in physical form, orgasming instead via emotional and intellectual channels?

Yes.

Or… finally… will we have all these options, and more, in a highly-variable society that offers dozens of choices in lifestyle menus that continue to expand, exponentially?

Yes.





Hmm. If she’s around when the technology exists (and body modifications of all kinds become both possible and easier), I don’t think the human body has enough skin area to support itself via photosynthesis, though it could be supplemental (see John Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’ for interesting examples, however). And once you get past being attractive yet green (She-Hulk?), one need be constantly nude for the best effect…

As for everything else, it’s a matter of being careful what you wish for. Valerie arguably succeeded, but was it at all self-fulfilling…?

@ Pastor_Alex:
“The problem will come when Barbie is out and Twiggy is in. “

My personal theory is that’s where the semi-anorexic fashion model look had already started. Someone threw out the continuing vote-with-wallet example of major men’s magazines (often altered as well) and forgot that men really *do* like curves…





Hank, very good essay, as usual. Thank you for your continued efforts.


Since plastic surgery is often criticized (and so is Valeria Lukyanova), I would like to share my thoughts on the topic. Expect grammatical errors since english is not my former language.


————————————————————
Am I fond of Barbie, the doll? Never was. Am I happy that Valeria underwent “extreme” plastic surgery so that she could fulfill her desire to bring her appearance closer to the famous synthetic icon? Putting aside possible health issues with regards to her surgeries (which I don’t know), my answer is: ABSOLUTELY.


Note the make up I used on the word ‘extreme’ in form of quotation marks. I used that word because it is commonly used in this context. What does ‘extreme’ mean? And there’s a more important question: What makes something being seen as extreme?


Plastic surgery has been and still is, demonized by society to some extent. Each individual have his/her own variety of opinions on this, but the truth is that a scent of disrispect towards people who apply a certain degree of transformation to their bodies for the sake of physical beauty tends to float in the air. The fact that each culture shows a different degree of rejection should also be noted, though.


But the irony is that everyone would like to be more beautiful. That’s engraved in our genes and nobody can escape the unavoidable truth. Then why there are so many people critizicing so many forms of beauty upgrading? Who hasn’t heard countless times that plastic surgery is ‘superficial’?


Superficial? Of course it is. And.. so what? ‘Superficial’ is often mistaken for ‘void’ , ‘empty’. But superficiality is not a concept which unyieldingly encloses virtue nor defect. It just means something that is located in the surface. The opposite attribute, ‘deep’, is not always a positive quality. ‘Deep’ is just something that is far below the surface. There are piles of deep behaviours and in-depth ways of thinking that are, in short, aberrations.
Not a single thing in the universe is condemned to be beautiful and unavoidable null at the same time. External beauty, be it on a jaw-dropping sunset, an exquisite painting, an imposing monument, a gorgeous virtual world, a captivating face or a sculptural body, as superficial as it is, is always a virtue. But what makes the global “product” of beauty virtuous or defective is not the only fact of the beauty itself, but the combination with the added underlying motivations behind it. The problem is that people tend to roar in the face of plastic surgery without knowing the inner interpretations that travel accross the upgraded person’s mind. There are destructive and silly ways to look at beauty, indeed. But intelligent admiration for beauty as a general concept (a vital ingredient for artistic sensitivity) is one piece of the global constellation of an individual’s intelligence, along with IQ, emotional intelligence, and also being a crucial part of body intelligence. We all like to see beauty in as many elements in the universe as possible, particularly when we are sincere to ourselves.


By the way, we are in the universe.


The truth is that there’s no single reason to force a totalitarian dichotomy between ‘beautiful’ and ‘rich/deep/valuable’. Anything can be beautiful in surface and entail a valuable meaning altogether. The desire to be healthy and alive is superficial, no one needs to delve deep into his/her own mind to understand and feel it, and yet it is a good and valuable concept. The same goes with visual beauty. There is a recurring cliche by which gorgeous blondies probably have the brains of a dizzy fly. I haven’t found any single reason to assert that upgrading the physical appearance automatically gives rise to mental downgrading, as if it was a necessary exchange. We, as individuals, as evolving entities, should avoid any self-deceptive tricks and accept that humans give high value to both brains and physical appearance, and we can (and we should) aim to improve both in a reasonable, intelligent and balanced way, each person in her/his own style and possibilities. Praise for beautiful brains and bodies is chiseled in the foundations of our genetic structure (at least for now). Good brains lead to good leaders and sub-leaders who can take care of the group better. Good bodies lead to a healthier community, both physically and mentally. Masking our instincts for the sake of insincere poetry can only lead to serious collective and individual dysfunctions, trying to feel something that we don’t.


Now returning to the question: why people tend to criticize other people for undergoing plastic surgery? My guess lies in inequality, both social and biological. On one hand, it has been observed that social inequality gives rise to social conflict. If people perceive that some individuals have access to better resources and services, conflict is likely to arise. Is not the quality of our lifestyle in absolute terms what we value, but rather, where are our lifestyles placed in comparison with the lower and higher social tiers. Nowadays, the standard citizen in the developed world has economical access to cosmetics, casual jewelry (including piercings), tatoos, and hair-dressing. Those “easy” aesthetical upgrades are not as vilified as boob inflation or nose-reshaping, which are relatively costly, thus not being easily afforded by everyone.
On the other hand there’s a biological inequality that makes some people prettier than others just by random lottery. By a statistical logic, only a minority are the prettier. This minority has higher chances to gain better status, and thus better chances of survival and having sex. So, the rest of the population (that is, the majority), tend to develop conceptual mechanisms to protect themselves and try to have a better chance to fulfill what’s written in their genes (again, survive and f**k). Those mechanisms include looking down on the competitors’ advantages. So, in any case, there’s some kind of unconscious (or conscious) envy. But envy is not the only reason. There’s more.


Humans tend to accept better what they can see in their everyday lives. What they can see in their everyday lives (in the social context) is what has been reached to a consensus. Humans like to follow consensus since, in most cases, it increases chances of survival with a lower effort. Consensus, in turn, is highly dependant on availability / feasibility. The more available or feasible something is, the more chances it has to be integrated in the consensus.
So, the more feasible a plastic surgery technique is, the easier it will be accepted. There are four major variables that influence how society feels towards a specific visual upgrade: monetary cost, safety levels, speed of the procedures and post-procedure recovery time. They are not the only parameters but let’s stick to those to make the explanation simpler. Hair-dyeing, for instance, is currently cheap, safe, fast and no recovery time is needed. Hair-dyeing hardly has detractors. On the other hand, many plastic surgeries are expensive, entail some health risks, requires between 1 to 4 hours of surgery and the recovery time usually goes between 2 to 3 weeks. But that’s today.


So, plastic surgery is usually despised depending on its degree of “uncommonness”.


Remember I quoted the word ‘extreme’ at the beginning of my comment? I also quoted the word ‘easy’ two paragraphs above. Technical feasibility is what (in this case) psychologically defines the frontier between the two terms.  Tomorrow, with the explosion of robotics, A.I. researchers, machine vision, 3D printing, and the increasing knowledge about stem cell culture and microbiology, plastic surgeries will become cheaper and cheaper, safer and safer, faster and faster, and less and less aggressive to the patient, meaning less and less recovery time. And the technology will explode because everyone will desire it, no matter what they say now.
Then, the standard citizen will have quite feasible access to become (physically) the ideal self, be it a gorgeous typical human (male or female), a Barbie, a He-man, a Mario Bros, or even a Playmobil. Yet with time, envy will shift to other kinds of more advanced trends not available to everyone.


Then, Valeria Lukyanova will hardly have detractors. Masked envy for current Valeria Lukyanova’s physical configuration will dissapear. Me, you, he/she/it and everyone else (including 99% of the people that are currently charging against her), each one in our own physical uniqueness, will be as normal as her current rarity.





I find this to be about the creepiest thing I have EVER seen.  Plastic is toxic.





A commenter on my Facebook page says, in his opinion, becoming a Barbie is a far far less weird “enhancement” than it is to lift weights continually to be a 250 lb body-builder, or to cover one’s self completely with tattoos.





Thank you all, for enlightening information. Currently our Southern California church is engaged in great controversy related to this conversation. We have certain worship services for “women only,” and other services are for “all genders.” We phrase it this way as we believe that our society should—as several others already now do—acknowledge the human reality that there are many more than two genders. The transgender people are angry that they are not permitted to come to “woman only” spiritual services.

And so the question arises: what exactly IS a woman? We say it is the gender which is born with a (potentially) life-carrying womb and which holds the potential for the blood mysteries of menstruation, conception, gestation, birth, lactation and menopause. The transgender community violently disagrees—they even attempted to stage a protest at our church. They wish to come to our “woman only” services, claiming they “identify” as woman and so are indeed “woman.”

The controversy continues, but it is related to this discussion. If an anatomical male can “choose” to become “female” through medical intervention, then anyone (with enough money and access to the medical gods, that is) can choose to be any form of human they wish. Of course, the practical realities at this moment are that transgender “male”-to-“female” are not capable of the female powers of creating human life and holding the blood mysteries. (I put “male”-to-“female” in quotes not to offend, but simply because I do not believe they are indeed female—I believe they are of another as-yet-unnamed gender—-and they’re probably not male, either, so I put that in quotes, as well!) A surgically created “hole” in a human body is not in fact the same at all as the incredible organ of power called a womb.

In the future, as a practical matter, that may not be true. Science is “advancing” its knowledge quickly (if not its wisdom) and will undoubtedly soon be able to create a test tube-like environment within an anatomically male body that replicates a womb and allows a baby space to gestate. Perhaps someone is doing it now in some lab somewhere even as I write.

We humans are entering into a very different world of the future. It is easy to become highly charged emotionally with an opinion about what all this means for humanity. What it means to be a woman is indeed, some would say “under attack,” .... others would say “under evolution.” As a genetic woman (with a womb and holding the blood mysteries) I myself “feel” emotionally that there is “something unnatural” and therefore “wrong” with this deliberate recreation of what it means to be female. I feel that patriarchy has controlled what woman is for many thousands of years, and now this is just the final “erasing” of “natural woman;” we are entering into an era where, even more than ever before, what patriarchy can “create,” it can define, and what it can define, it can control. We may soon all be pawns in the patriarchal machine, as we now enter a new human consensus reality where we are all no longer “good enough” just as we are, but now are completely dependent upon the monstrous medical machine to “help us” to simply “be” who we think we want to be as a human. Every issue will become a “medical condition” that can be “fixed” by surgeons. Painful and dangerous surgeries now become the norm ... not to mention the expense. Recreating yourself? “Cash, check or credit card?” What better way to control the masses than by brainwashing them to direct all their hard-earned cash not to empowering themselves but to dumping money into a system that does not actually serve them, throwing money away chasing after the “self-actualization” so very helpfully “offered”  by The Machine? Rather than “offered,” I should say “sold,” for that is what it is and will be ... The Machine will SELL US our human self-actualization (or rather the pale copy), for they sure as hell will not be giving it away.

Is this fear just my old-fashioned cultural conditioning expressing itself? Am I hopelessly outdated? Or am I seeing reality: that scientists have made a lot of terrible mistakes with all their “knowledge” and we humans have suffered for it. Just because we CAN do a thing doesn’t mean we should.

But now I ask this deeper question which challenges my own inherently negative “feeling” about all this “unnatural” alteration: if, as I believe, our physical bodies are an “outpouring of our soul,” if our physical gender is chosen by our soul BEFORE we incarnate, and that body/mind/spirit/gender complex is specifically chosen by our souls that we may best learn and evolve in this lifetime (no matter how painful the lessons may be!), then ultimately what difference does it all make? As spirits with no gender, we decide upon the nature of our bodies BEFORE we incarnate ... and we can decide upon the nature (by surgical/hormonal/other alteration) of our bodies AFTER we incarnate. As human beings, whether we are in body or out of it, in spirit or other form, as entities having free will and the power of creation, we are constantly choosing who we are and who we want to be in the universe—physically, and in every other way.

Personally, I would rather choose to be something more interesting than a plastic doll. But that’s me .... It will be fascinating to witness in this lifetime—and in future lifetimes, should I choose to return to the body—how the beings we call “human” will decide to create themselves and their world.

May we have some degree of reverence for life in all we do.—-Reverend Ava Park, Presiding Priestess, The Goddess Temple of Orange County, USA, www.goddesstempleoforangecounty.com





@Hank: I agree with the commenter in your Facebook. To me, yes: the concept of a body covered in tatoos is far more “weird” than mimicking Barbie’s anatomy. I just want to point out to a little shade. Linguistically speaking the word ‘weird’ is related to ‘unusual’, and therefore Valeria’s transformation is more unusual and weirder than tatooed and overmuscled bodies. Perhaps I would find more suitable the word ‘transgressor’ instead of ‘weird’.
I mean ‘transgressor’ or ‘weird’ in a good sense, since I’m completely happy with the decision of anybody to transform her/his body as desired. In fact, everybody without exceptions transforms his/her body in one way or another.





@Ava Park: I think I understand your vision at some points, although I would like to share thoughts with regards to some of the ideas you introduced.

What is a female? What is a male? Those are indeed relevant questions. On one hand, there’s the biological reality: the obvious difference between physical organs and anatomical sculpturing that divide the two genders, among many other traits. A biological female is a being that, as you stated, is equipped with menstruation and gestation capabilities, and a biological male is not. Behavioural differences are also enclosed due to biological differences in the brain. That’s what basically defines the gender reality in the animal kingdom, at least in most species.

But biological reality is not the only factor that comes into play when speaking about gender in the case of humans. Humans have developed a complex culture that, far from being a mere recollection of data, it also materializes into a powerful drive within our social structure. The memetic drive permeates every aspect of the human consciousness and behaviour, along with the genetic drive. Every single human’s perception of the self is built through a combination of her/his accumulated genes and memes. We build our own aspirations from what we previously observe in our society. Among all the options, we choose the one/s we feel more comfortable with and try to put into practice, be it transgendering to a male or female, becoming a filmmaker, a rock star, a religious person,  a scientist, a writer or a martial artist. Without memes we couldn’t build any of these aspirations.
Thus being a man or a woman, in our complex culture, cannot be just limited to the physical appearance that nature supplied us with by default. Almost all of us humans are genetic and memetic men or woman, irrespective of what kind of body we got at birth. I said ‘almost’ since a minority claims to feel ungendered, being me one of them though I feel more attached to the female memetic constructs. I would say I’m an anatomic male on the physical side, and a psychological androgyny and a memetic female on the mental one.

‘Mental gender’ is not just limited to pre-observed memes. Many anatomic males claim to clearly feel there’s a psychological woman inside them, and many anatomic females strongly claim there’s a psychological man inside them. To live in a body that you feel you don’t belong to is not an easy task. To many, is an endless and indescribable torture that only ends whether they undergo surgery or they suicide. As the human beings they are, we should help society in developing the means to fulfill their understandable needs as soon as possible: to reach the biological reality that matches with what’s in their minds.


Then we arrive to what I would say is one the most difficult yet ubiquitous concepts that influence most discussions in human culture: natural versus artificial.
Praise for nature has its basis both in objective observable reasons and also in complex intertwined cultural elements. In other words, a memetic inertia which often flows into subjective opinions regarding appraisal of nature. Though it is true that many natural resources and systems are more suitable to fulfill our needs while maintaining a better equilibrium regarding our physical and mental integrity than artificial counterparts, we should pay close attention to the advantages in the aforementioned equilibrium when using artificial components in many other cases. Thus, the assumption that ‘natural’ equals ‘right’ and ‘unnatural’ equals ‘wrong’ should be replaced with a close analysis of each case separately. Assuming that natural is always better, along with the suggestion that something unnatural (and supposedly wrong) should be rejected, means that almost 100% of what we do is wrong. We shouldn’t make any kind of tool. It implies no homes, no books, no pencils, no clothing, no computers, no cars, planes or bikes, no medicine and no cooked food. Not even agriculture or lighting a little fire. Is marriage natural? Is putting names to people natural? Birthdays? Sex for non-reproductive goals? In a very strict definition, all the elements I have just presented are artificial instances. We’ll perhaps agree with some, and perhaps disagree with others. In a less restrictive conceptualization, what defines the barrier between what’s natural and what’s not? ‘Natural’ is certainly one of the most ambiguous popular concepts ever.

If we start from the premise that artificial is unavoidably wrong, then we logically arrive to the conclusion that transgendering (something artificial) is unavoidably wrong. But, if we start from the premise that in the natural/ artificial dichotomy each case much be evaluated separatedly, then we are giving us the oportunity to avoid philosophical confusion and detect, analyse and implement more options that are vital for the common good.

Is wrong to transform our bodies? Combing or cutting one’s hair, for instance, are also forms of artificial body transformation. Within the global ‘body transformation’ spectrum, there is no conceptual division between combing one’s hair and becoming a Barbie-like person. The only thing that separates them is a degree in technical feasibility, and therefore a difference in social reactions at the sight of each one of them in the present time. Considering that technical feasibility of a given technique, social custom or trend changes throughout history (thus the balance between social acceptance / social rejection), I propose the adoption of a more versatile categorization ( or a more categorization-free view) of what means to transform one’s body, thus a redefinition of our moral principles with regards to this topic.


I share your worries about the current dangers or surgery. I’m a strong advocate of the future of plastic surgery because it will be far safer than today’s standards. The most difficult and dangerous surgeries that are performed today could be enormously reduced to trivial and agile visits to the clinic in the mid-term (my personal guess is probably within 15-20 years). Some would say I am being incoherent at advocating Valeria Lukyanova’s transformation since we are not in the future yet, and she may have taken some serious risks now. What I advocate about her case is the idea it represents: the high proximity of an era where biological injustice is greatly leveled. An era where not only good aesthetics or a preferred gender, but also a good health stops from being a privilege.

Scientists (as any other human collective) make both mistakes and wise moves. But in general, the main body of benefits from science have by far outweighed the drawbacks. We are able to enjoy greater lifespans, better access to healthcare and education, better tools for the expansion of arts, ethics and culture, and other vital civilizatory elements that hadn’t been possible without the valuable work of scientists throughout history. At my age (35) I would probably be dead or almost dead if I had been born just 200 years ago and was a middle-class worker. My aspirations, far from being focused on self-development, would be just work, survive, eat and reproduce. Having greater lifespans means more time to self-development and thus to develop the ability to contribute to society in a greater degree. It includes negative and positive influences, of course: more time to boost arts, science, philosophy, self-development, and also parasitic memes and conflict. But I think positive influences have been more influential than the negative ones, and the clear trend has been an expansion of culture and a diminishing of violence as technology developed.

As a general observation, the more we travel back to the past, the more violence we see. It is interesting the work of Steven Pinker on this topic. Here is an abstract of his latest book: ‘The Better Angels of out Nature’
http://stevenpinker.com/publications/better-angels-our-nature


I am afraid I won’t be able to participate in the spiritual topic since I’ve never received any evidence (intellectual, emotional or spiritual) to support the existence of a soul and the afterlife, and therefore I don’t have the means to weigh any kind of thoughts on it.

Best regards





Interesting article Hank.

Yes, Valeria is the future of cosmetic surgery, and therefore, if changing faces and bodies becomes as easy as changing clothes, she is the future of women - the pressures of female intrasexual competition will ensure it.

But it will help end the female sexual discontent and strife that is at the heart of feminism.  Unlike male sexual power, which has quite a happy correlation with social and economic power, female sexual power is based solely on youthful beauty, and has little to do with social status or riches. 

When older women can buy beauty, then the motivating force behind feminism - the transfer of sexual power from young women with no political power to older women with a monopoly on political power, through the criminalization of male sexuality - will be over.

I’m more worried about the future of artificially ‘beautified’ men.

Instead of turning into beautiful dolls, male sexual competition will push men into the other direction - into muscular apes.

An estimated 10% of American high school boys already willingly damage their health by taking illegal steroids (no doubt to have a body to impress girls with).

A new generation of steroids (SARMS) that build muscle without the health risks have already been developed :

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/02/sarm-steroid-s4-increases-muscles-and.html

We’ll probably end up something like the Eloi and the Morlocks in H.G.Well’s ‘The Time Machine’, only it will be the genders that will ‘evolve’ wildly differently from each other, rather than the social classes.





BTW, I found something related the other day that I don’t think has been covered by any transhumanist blogs - Russian scientists claim to have created a method of increasing human height by up to 8 cms by inserting stem cell implants into the patient’s legs :

http://www.makemetaller.org/index.php/topic,4447.0.html





This whole thing is 20 to 30 years behind the times.

In the early and mid-80s, the Punk and Early Goth/Deathrock (which is NOT “death-metal” - different genre entirely) we pioneered the look of manufactured aesthetics.

Some even with surgery, which became more more affordable during the 90s.

There is nothing wrong with “beauty” in and of itself. There is a reason we respond to it. The issue is really “Can beauty be pathological?”





And don’t think that male competition will push men in the direction of muscular apes.

Many men happen to appreciate a more trim physique (not to mention having amply demonstrated the benefits over “raw power” in physical skills - speed, flexibility/dexterity, and endurance generally trump pure strength).

And, going where I normally go with this: porn.

There is a trend in the porn industry toward casting men that are more the anime styled body, that the GI Joe, or Incredible Hulk sorts of the past - usually employed because of a homophobic bias among producers.

With more porn being consumed by women, and by people of both sexes who have no sexual gender preference, you are going to see this trend toward more attractive male counterparts continue (although not nearly as quickly as that of the idealized female).





As gender and attraction become more fluid will you not also begin to see more people seeking an androgynous appearance? Perhaps the long term isn’t stylized sexual characteristics but an absence of them.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Musings On Robot Sex Dolls and Companions

Previous entry: Our Reborn Future in Space

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376