Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Individual and the Collective Pt2

Last post we observed the dynamics of the collective in the terms of a small tribe, and indicated that at this size, things worked pretty well. That is not to say that error modes were not possible, but that when error modes arose, there were mechanisms in place to deal with those errors. Essentially, at this scale, the ability of individuals to veil their actions in a wall of secrecy did not exist. While it is certainly possible for the individual to lie, cheat, steal and deceive, such actions could only be carried out to a limited extent, and carried repercussions that were deleterious to that individuals long term well being. 

For example, let's say a farmer lied about the size of his crops. In a small tribe, it would be pretty obvious that he had lied, because many witnesses would exist who could refute his claims. His attempts to deceive would be transparent, and the repercussions of his deception harmful mostly to himself.

And I can hear some of you out there saying so what? If he raised the crops by himself, he's entitled to do what he wishes with them. 

The problem is that in this situation we are discussing the collective. And as an individual within that collective, drawing upon benefits from that collective, the individual has accepted responsibilities to that collective.  The collective's warriors have protected him, the collective's educators have educated him, the collectives other food providers have assisted him in various ways, such as helping him till his fields, provided seed from the community storehouse, etc. We are not discussing a farmer who gathered his seeds from the wild, cleared his land single handedly, and so on. We are discussing a farmer who's ability to grow crops and provide food has been augmented by his participation in a collective.  While his desire to "increase his benefit" to himself is understandable, it is an example of "short term thinking" that ignores the consequences of such actions on his long term interactions with the collective. Simply put, his attempts to deceive will lead to the collective seeing him as a parasite, and penalizing him via loss of benefits created by the collective. In the worst case, he might lose his right to even be a member in the collective.

Which, since I am using an example in which there is only the single collective, and nowhere else to go, means that rather than allow him to become a predator now that he has been expelled as a parasite,  his head goes on a pike to remind others of the consequences of harming the collective.                                                                                                                                                                                 
And yes, I am continually going to use that pike, because history has.

If it is not yet obvious, I am extremely strict in how I define "Self Sufficiency". To be perfectly blunt, unless you are in a situation such as I described of being the sole inhabitant of a deserted island, without tools, or even knowledge provided to you from a collective, you cannot make the claim to "derive no benefits" from the collective. The very fact that you are sitting there, able to read this post on your computer, is a result of the education you received as a member of a collective, and the provision of that computer as a result of collective action making the very existence of your computer possible. In fact, the very existence of language itself is only possible because the collective exists.

And also let me make it very plain that the collective and "government" are not the same thing. The government is the system used by the collective to self organize and self govern itself. The collective creates government as a necessary outcome of organization, but that government can be one of any number of types depending on the will of the collected individuals who comprise the collective. Any "authority" given to "the government" is thus directly derived from the individuals who have consented to be governed.

So, it should be plain at this point that under ideal conditions, the existence of the collective is a positive sum game, in which every individual chooses to participate in exchange for the benefits to be gained from participation, and in which every member, from the lowest "hired hand" to the chosen "head" understands that participation in the collective is a matter of individual alignments of self interest.

It should also be obvious that under ideal conditions, the collective has a system of checks and balances that prevents individuals from engaging in short term self beneficial behaviors that cause harm to the collective in the long term. Because such actions harm the long term health of the entire collective, and thus harm every individual within the collective, the collective will act in its own self interest and penalize the individual taking them.

And yet, one needs only to look at the world as is to realize that those checks and balances seem to be absent.


Well, let's go back to our farmer example.  Now, instead of a single farmer let's assume you have thousands, each of whom contributes different amounts to the collective. Next assume you have no way to match any individual to the amount they contribute, because all you know is the amount contributed, not who contributed it. Let's say the amounts are all tossed into a hat on slips of paper and you pull them out randomly. And let's say that you know that 10% of those figures are bald faced lies.

Now... tell me who has lied about their contribution?

So, why can't you?  Because you no longer have enough information. Because the numbers are no longer attached to individuals. In essence a veil of secrecy has been placed between you and the farmers. Because you can no longer "see" the farmers, they can now do anything they wish, and inevitably, some of them will chose to take the strategy of short term profit in which they receive all the benefits of being part of the collective, but do not contribute to the collective in an equivalent manner. They have lost their accountability.

And that is the error mode we encountered once we grew beyond the tribal stage. The checks and balances we had at the tribal stage no longer worked, because it became possible to keep SECRETS.  Once it became impossible for anyone to know what everyone else in the tribe was doing, because there were just too many people for that to be possible, short term strategy overwhelmed long term strategy.

So, why really, is that such a bad thing? I am quite sure some of you are thinking hiding from the government is a good thing, so rather than looking at this from the point of view of the chief, let's instead start lower down the chain.

So let's say you are a farmer. You have 10 people working on your farm. And let's say you decided for some reason to divide your farm into ten sections, and build a wall around each section so you have no idea what your workers are doing in their section. They of course tell you that they are doing the work you need done, but you have to take their word for it, since you put up those walls. Now let's say that at harvest time, when you are depending on them to deliver the crops you paid them to deliver, instead, two of them say that they had a "bad harvest".

What would you do? You paid them for a certain amount of crop. They claimed they did their jobs. They gave no prior notice of any problems, they just suddenly don't have the crop you paid them to produce.

Bet you are regretting those walls now, aren't you? After all, you have absolutely no way to know if they are telling the truth or lying to you. Nor could anyone else. What went on behind that "Wall" is completely "Secret." Maybe that individual simply took your "payment" and did nothing. Maybe they took the payment, and had a fantastic harvest, but plan to sell it the next town over instead of paying you what they owe. But no matter what the cause, you made a considerable investment for no return, right? And I am pretty sure, you want to hold them accountable too. But how can you, when they are behind that wall of secrets? Why, you'd have to tear down that wall...

And get a little transparency, yes?

But wait, let's complicate things even further, and become one of the hired workers. You've just worked really hard all year, and it's your effort alone that produced such a wonderful crop, right? After all, the seed, fertilizer, equipment, instructions on how to grow the crop... none of that means a damn thing, because it was your labor alone that produced the outcome. That crop is YOURS damn it, and you can do what you want with it, so why should you repay the farmer? Especially since he can't see you through that wall. And if he tries to come through that wall? Well, you have every right to kill him to keep from having to give him anything!

I do hope you are seeing the sarcasm here. After all, it SHOULD be obvious that that a deal was made, and payment is due.

But, this is the argument generally made to justify the "taxes are theft" meme. And like that argument, it ignores the initial investment made by the "collective" (represented by the farmer in this example) in order to justify short sighted self interest on the part of the hired hand. The Farmer provided the environment, the seeds, and everything to the hired hand, making it possible to even grow the crop in the first place. Without that initial investment, the hired hand could have scratched at the dirt all day with his fingers, and gotten the same result he delivered in the end. Nothing. This is a Non-Mutually Beneficial Transaction.

And that makes the hired hand... a parasite.

But let's turn this around again. Let's keep the same setup, the walled off farm, but this time, let's suppose that the Farmer has a walkway around the top of the wall, and the hired hands only agreed to work for the farmer because he says he can get them twice as much for that crop than they can themselves. The hired hands can't hide what they do from the farmer, so when the crop comes due, they hand it over, expecting to get a much higher personal benefit in exchange for their labor as part of the farmer's "collective" than they would as individuals. And let's say that instead of twice the profit, he sells it for five times as much, then turns around and tells the hired hand's he's so sorry, but he only got them the same amount they would have gotten alone, and pockets the rest? Sure, the hired hands did not get "harmed", but don't you think that they would have lynched the farmer if they had known he had lied to them about how much profit their labor had actually returned?  And yet, that wall of secrecy, in this case, prevented the farmer from being accountable to the hired hands. And we have here another Non-Mutually Beneficial Transaction.

Which makes the farmer... a parasite.

But.... I'll lay you odds, some of you out there are going, "but that just good business!"

And from the point of view of short term self interest, it is indeed "good business", because of the veil of secrecy. Because of that veil, the farmer avoided being accountable to the hired hands, and thus exploited them of the benefits that they COULD have earned from their labors.  Had that veil not existed, and the hands known precisely how much profit had been made from their labor, they would have likely insisted on making a much more equitable split in which everyone profited to a greater degree.

And that is WHY short term self interest became so overwhelmingly dominant once accountability was lost, and secrecy became possible.  Because it is ALWAYS in the "Farmers" best interest to prevent being held accountable to the hired hands, just as it is ALWAYS in the farmers best interest to ensure that the hired hands remain accountable to him. So long as the Farmer can keep secrets, but the hired hands can't, the farmer "wins". Just replace the word farmer with "elites" and hired hands with "masses" and I'm quite sure you'll understand what I am getting at.

This is known as "Asymmetry of information." And to be quite honest, we've become so accustomed to this asymmetry, that we've come to view it as a "necessary" and "good" thing. In many cases, we've even confused it with "privacy." The problem is that Privacy is a socially granted privilege, where secrecy is a forced deceptive action.

To clarify, imagine you are in a large barracks style dormitory. You have your bed, and that's it. Whether you like it or not, your every single action is visible to every single individual in that dorm... and yet, given a short period of time, I will lay you odds that every person in that dorm will begin automatically ignoring any activities by any other individuals except those they are interacting with at that moment. In fact, I'll even give you a simpler situation, a party. How many parties have you been at where you couldn't even describe what the people ten feet away across a room were doing because you "weren't paying attention?"

Privacy is a form of "Social invisibility" that every individual chooses to grant to other individuals. Even in situations of complete transparency, privacy is possible, because it is a privilege that has to be granted by individuals to other individuals.

But secrecy is not. There is no choice involved in secrecy, only deception. It's a wall of blindness intended to prevent knowledge of what occurs behind it. And when it's in place, and accountability is lost, inevitably, short term self interest begins to make all the decisions.

And ultimately, that is a bad thing.

To see why, let's keep looking at our farm, but now we are going to examine this farm under two conditions. With walls, and without walls.

In farm 1, with walls, our ten hired hands received a profit exactly equal to what they would have received working as individuals. Let's call this "break even". They all worked collectively, but none of them gained any advantage from doing so, because all of the advantage went to the farmer, i.e. their landlord. Even though they each produced more than they would have individually, only the landlord is better off. Now, while this worked the first time, let's take it several years down the road.

Now, because of the wall, the hands couldn't know precisely what the landlord was doing with the efforts of their labor, but you can be pretty sure they got hints. When the landlord starts wearing expensive clothes as he walks the walls and looks down on them, or when they see the top of his new mansion, or notice that he's putting on a lot of weight while they are barely getting enough to eat, well, it's going to become more and more obvious that someone is profiting, and it's not them.

And, since each and every one of them is a selfish animal only looking out for their own self interests, and only joined the collective because they desired to acquire benefits for themselves greater than they could acquire individually, they pretty soon realize that their self interest, and the farmers self interest are NOT ALIGNED. Eventually, after talking to one another and realizing they each have aligned self interests, and that they each have a single obstacle to realizing their personal self interest, well that is usually when a nice sharp pike comes out, an axe is taken to the wall, and the farmer get's divested of all the profit he's made at the hands expense, as well as getting a nice close shave in the bargain. Ah well, click, click, click, click, click.... Boom.

You see, farmer 1 forgot one very important fact about being part of the collective. It exists ONLY because it is mutually advantageous to every individual in the collective, and when it ceases to be an advantage for everyone, the collective tends to take steps to return it to a mutually advantageous situation by removing the elements that stopped it from being a mutually advantageous situation.

Now I won't lie and say that the Farmer doesn't have options for trying to prevent the hands from settling things with him, but that's not what this essay is about. Besides, I'm quite certain you already know all about suppression and oppression, and how it usually ends up creating exactly the kind of violent revolt it's supposedly suppressing.

So instead, we'll switch to Farm number 2. The one without walls, where the farmer and the farm hands have symmetrical information on each other.  In this situation, the farmer has also made the same "contract" with the hands, and when he goes off and actually makes five times the profit, he can't hide that from the hands.  So... he has to share that excess profit.  He still makes his share, plus his share of the excess, so he profits, but so do the hands.

Now, let's assume that the hands use that excess profit to create improvements to the land they have contracted to manage, so that next year, they have crops that are, say, 50% larger than the previous year. Now, you have the 10 hands, plus what is effectively 5 extra, without having to split the profits 15 ways.  So the Farmer now goes, and makes the same five times, etc, etc... At the end of that same several years, Farmer 2 not only has equaled the profits of Farmer 1... he gets to keep his head and his profits in the bargain!

Yes, this is simplified. I'm making a point here. In example 1, sure, the farmer made more per year, at least at first, but his short term strategy had the nasty long term effect of getting his head a nice spot decorating a pike.  Farmer 2 didn't make as much profit as Farmer 1 did at first, but because his hands also profited, they didn't keep making the exact same amount of crops each year, but increased them, every year, to the point that Farmer 2 ended up earning just as much, but because his self interest and the hired hands self interest remained aligned, he gets to KEEP MAKING that profit. So next year, while Farmer 1 is busy rotting, Farmer 2 is enjoying the benefits of a mutually beneficial transaction.

Click, click, click, clickclickclickclickclick.... hey, this gun doesn't have a bullet in it.

To decorate a pike, or not to decorate a pike, that is the fundamental difference between short term strategy and long term strategy. And why secrecy is really not a good thing to have around.  Transparency keeps you honest, and honesty keeps the collectives self interests more closely aligned.

Next time, I'll discuss why this is so difficult to manage in a massive collective, and how both transparency and accountability are likely to be restored.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Individual and the Collective, Part One

Alright, this is in response to Sam's desire for a logical and rational debate, to quote: "From basis of ethics to specialization in politics/government is what I would love to get into. You make some statements I don't know how you support like ones implying the only reason we don't all have plenty now is because evil people are taking it away from us or keeping it from us. Or your statements against free markets. I would like to see your development of those positions from first principles."

So, let's start from "First principles."

Principle 1: Humanity is an animal. As an animal it is driven by primal instincts. These instincts can be viewed as 2 separate interacting drives. The first drive is to survive. The second drive is to reproduce. These two interacting drives underlay all human activity, and together can explain the majority of human activity.
Principle 2: Both survival and reproductive instincts are necessary, desirable, and vital to our continued existence, and evolution as a species. However, they are currently uncontrolled due to humanities denial of Principle 1, and because of this, have also lead to the majority of human conflict, suffering, and misery.

Principle 3: As man is a "thinking animal" able to analyze both itself and its actions, and react as a rational being with some degree of free will, it has the ability to harness it's instincts into primarily beneficial actions, and minimize harmful actions both on the individual and collective scales.

Those are the starting principles. Everything else is derived from this.

Survival is a basic drive for any animal. It directs us to daily seek out the resources needed to continue one’s existence. To survive, we need food, shelter from the elements, medical care, education, and security.

Let’s use a wolf pack as an example. It hunts for food, creates a den for shelter from the elements, follows certain hygienic practices to maintain its health, teaches it’s young, and surrounds itself with a group to increase the security of every individual.

It makes it very easy to see how a lack of any of these basic needs could jeopardize the wolf’s survival, no? If he can’t find food, he’ll starve to death. If he can’t find a den, he can’t shelter from the elements, meaning every storm could kill him, every blizzard freeze him to death. If he doesn’t take those basic hygiene steps (i.e. grooming, etc) his health will suffer, he could get sick, and die. If his parents hadn’t educated him, he wouldn’t have survived his first day in the wild and died. And if he’s all alone, he has no help to defend himself against fellow predators.

Examining the needs of animals provides us with a very clear understanding that any animal thus has five basic requirements that together constitutes “Survival”: Food to eat, Shelter to live in, Healthcare to prevent illness, education to cope with the environment, and security to be free from threats.  By forming packs, wolves thus self organize into a collective where every member can contribute and share responsibility for provision of these five NEEDS. This is known as division of labor. Each wolf divides the total labor of any one wolf in proportion with the number of wolves in the pack. If one brings down a large animal, they all share, reducing the burden of each wolf towards hunting. Some can stay and watch pups while others go hunt. Some can stand guard while others sleep. The healthy can share with the sick. Etc.

By forming an organization, wolves thus create a system which A: Controls the Collective actions, B: Controls the Shared resources of the Collective, and C: Allocates shared resources to benefit the Collective as efficiently as possible.

We can see the same self organization in a primitive tribe as well. The tribe works together to ensure the tribes survival, using division of labor to multiply the efficiency of each individual, and thus provide the five NEEDS to each individual at much reduced cost in individual effort. In a prosperous tribe, it might be possible to acquire all needs for a week with just a few hours of combined effort by all individuals.

This is what makes such organization a strong survival trait. Any animal which forms such an organization will have a much higher survival chance than those which do not form such organizations. Because such animals will have a greater likelihood of having all five of their basic NEEDS met, promoting species growth. Thus, we form groups not because it is 100% necessary we form them, but because groups improve our overall chances of survival enormously. Without groups, an individual can survive. They can provide the five basic NEEDS of food, shelter, healthcare, education and security for themselves.  However, the amount of effort necessary to do so is vastly higher than in a group in which resources and labor can be allocated efficiently. We know instinctively that co-operation, in general, provides more NEEDS for less effort. 

In humans, we can increase this beyond just providing for basic NEEDS though, because we have created systems which can not only allocate resources efficiently but which can do so across time as well. A resource collected today can be stored for use at a later time, thus enabling human labor to produce far more than just the basic NEEDS. This excess becomes stored for later use, and as the “storehouse” grows, it enables the group to provide for more people, who contribute just that much more to the “storehouse” in an endless loop of improvement.

Now, as we gather into groups, we spontaneously organize hierarchical systems to control the allocation of group resources, labor, skills, etc. This organization is a "Government." How this system is organized is not important. The system itself  governs how communally shared resources are used, and because it "governs" the system, it is a "government" I am making this point to clarify that when I use the term government I am defining it as "any system of organization established by a community to establish order and allocate division of labor and shared communal resources." How it is organized, whether it has a monopoly on "force" etc. is not relevant to the definition of "Government."  It can be voluntary, it can be coerced, it can be democratic, it can be tyrannical, it is still "A GOVERNMENT." I cannot make this any simpler than this.

So, to restate. We as humans form collectives, which spontaneously generate hierarchical systems to allocate and organize the use of labor, resources, and all other shared items for the communal good. I will make no effort at this point to define "communal good". Whatever system is created, from the family unit to corporations to nations, regardless of size or complexity, the very fact that the system will exist makes it a "government". The only way a "governmentless" society can exist is if it consists of a single individual. Any form of collective, even one of two individuals, will create a system to allocate co-operative effort, and thus be a "government."

The reason I am going to such lengths to clarify this point is to illustrate that any argument for a "governmentless" system is engaging in semantic obfuscation, attempting to present a system of preferred government under the guise of it "not being a government" when it is still a system intended to allocate co-operative resources, while demonizing an undesirable system as "government."  The very existence of any system to govern must categorically be understood to be "A Government." Even animals exhibit the basic principles of self organization within a group, because this system of organization is a survival positive behavior. It is an emergent phenomena that is inherent in every form of life that exhibits collective survival strategies. Call it a flock, a herd, a village, a church,  a corporation or a nation, it is still a "Government." Even this forum has a "government" in the form of "moderators."

So, what exactly is the reason this system is so beneficial to survival? In order to illustrate, I would like to have you imagine you are suddenly deposited on a deserted island. On this island is every raw resource needed to recreate the exact same level of technological civilization that we live in right now, but you are completely alone.  Even if you are immortal, would you be able to completely recreate modern technology? Could you, alone, rewrite every classical book that has shaped society, recreate every invention, rebuild your own mini industrial revolution? Could you even manage to recreate the Iron Age?

Every item you likely use daily is a product of collective effort. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, even the computer you are reading this post on, was made by someone else in the vast interlocking series of collectives we call civilization. Through co-operative effort, humanity has done far more than simply "survive." Collective organization allows for a diversity of effort, diversity of effort insures that multiple pathways to any given problem are explored, and thus allows for the possibility of greatly magnified "benefits" provided to each individual that would otherwise be impossible for the individual to acquire on their own. This makes each individual in a collective a potential source of benefits to every other individual in the collective. It also means that every individual in the collective contributes to the well being of the collective, and that no member of the collective is without value to the collective. Any member of the collective allowed to fail deprives every other member of the collective of whatever contribution that individual could have made had the collective invested the proper resources needed to allow that individual to become a positive asset.

If all things were equal, it should be obvious that this survival strategy is a positive sum game when all "players" participate equally, and which provides a orders of magnitude reduction in any individuals "effort" necessary to provide for all NEEDS, thus enabling a surplus to accumulate able to provide for larger and larger collectives to come into being, as well as providing every individual with benefits above and beyond basic needs that the individual would never be able to provide for themselves, such as creative works, insights and various other intangibles produced by the synergistic interactions of the collective.

But... all things are not equal.

The reason all things are not equal is that second little instinct we humans have. The reproductive one. Unlike basic survival, reproductive strategies are competitive, not co-operative.

Now, in order to compete, reproduction does tend to collect us into groups as well, because the larger the group, the more chances of reproductive success there are. The difference is where mere survival encourages co-operation in order for all members to benefit equally, the competitiveness of reproductive strategies encourages the creation of status tiers, also known as pecking orders, the social ladder, social classes, etc. It called by many names but it comes down to the fact that we tend to arrange ourselves into a hierarchical systems due to reproductive instincts as well as survival instincts. 

The problem is that the hierarchal systems of survival are an organizational and efficiency tool, intended to make co-operation easier, more effective, and more efficient, while the hierarchal systems of reproduction are designed to select "best genetic material" and they encourage competition. They don't care about making things easier, or to be blunt, survival, so long as they can reproduce prior to failing to survive. Survival is about the organism. Reproduction is about the gene. Your genes don't care if the organism itself dies so long as the genes have successfully reproduced. Anything goes so long as the goal of reproduction is met. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing, you name it, so long as it results in reproduction, it's a successful tactic. Understand that. Genes know no morality.

Neither does survival. co-operation is not based on morality, it's because it's an effective survival tool. It enables each contributing member to do less to get more, and as such it is entirely a selfish act. Both of these instincts make us create hierarchal systems, but their focus is different. Survival uses a long-term strategy, while reproduction uses a short-term strategy. Nothing I am about to discuss is based on morality. It is entirely based on how these two strategies interplay to create human society. The reason I stress this is to illustrate that morality is an artificial system imposed by a system of belief about how the world "Should Be," while what I am discussing deals with the world "As Is."

Now, back to status. As I discussed above, the reproductive instinct encourages competition, which leads to "ranking." This is not a "male" or a "female" specific trait, regardless of what you might believe. At the genetic level the human animal is not monogamous. The typical male strategy involves mating with as many females as possible, while the female strategy is not as simple. While it involves multiple mates as well, the strategy is to acquire the genetic material of a "superior specimen" while securing the services of a "less superior" specimen to assist with nurturing and child raising. Note, you can disagree all you wish, I am simply reporting on what the most basic level of programming is. We've created more complex behaviors on top of this, but this is still what is we evolved as. (Marriage, monogamy, and all the various rules regarding sexual interactions are essentially various strategies we have tried to reign in the "reproductive" instinct, and control some of it's more negative aspects. )

The result of this interplay is a complex game of "Status", determined by a wide array of "markers," such as physical prowess, appearance, and various other traits. However, as all humans are not equally "genetically blessed" numerous other "markers" exist as well, most markedly, the accumulation of material wealth. Why? Because as a general rule, humans seek to gain the most benefits for the least amount of effort.  As we form groups, the effort needed to survive drops. The greater the resources available to any given member of a group, the less effort must be expended to survive. A surplus of benefits basically means negative personal expenditure, you can pay "others" to gather the resources needed to survive.

So basically, when you add the reproductive "short term" strategy to the survival "long term" strategy, what you get is a system that begins to take the "commonly shared resources" created by the collective, and begins sharing them based not on the amount of contribution made by each individual, but on status. In other words, the long term strategy of equality becomes replaced by the short term strategy of "status" and introduces a weighting system into the resources collectively created. This weighting system effectively forms a pyramid in which the top status tier expects to work far less while gaining far greater rewards than the masses at the bottom of the pyramid does, with those rewards being justified as a tribute to the "superiority" of the top tier. This is because we are programmed to react to status this way, viewing those of higher status positively, while viewing lower status negatively.

Now, in a small tribe, this is not really all that bad a thing, because the community will prevent it from going to excess. As the entire tribe is aware of each individual's status, and aware of what all members contribute, status will still be fairly closely tied to the individual's contribution to the collective. The best hunter might get the best cuts of meat because of his skill, the Chief might have more resources than any individual, etc., but this will usually not be so excessive that any individual will be denied sufficient recompense for their contribution to meet their NEEDS. This is because SECRECY is not really possible in such a limited society. Any member of the tribe actively seeking to cause harm to the other members of the tribe for their own individual gain will quickly be dealt with. That hunter had better stay the best hunter if he wishes to keep his status, the chief who mistreats his tribe isn't going to stay chief long. The system is accountable, with the individuals accountable to the collective, as well as the collective answerable to the individuals. Or to clarify, the individuals who represent the collective are held accountable to the individuals of the collective they have been chosen to represent. The "collective" is just the system, a tool. It has no will or sentience, so cannot be "held to account" for the misdeeds performed by the individuals who abuse the power granted by the collective for individual gain.

And note, this is the generalized "ideal state" of the collective/individual relationship. The "government" of the "tribe" exists to provide a structure to manage and control the collective assets created by the collective. Individual status may vary, but since each member of the tribe contributes to the collective, each shares in the benefits of being a part of that collective. And individuals who refuse to participate in the collective will not long receive benefits from that collective. At this scale, it should be quite obvious how the entire social dynamic works. At a smaller scale, we call it a "family", at larger scales a "nation". The scale doesn't change the dynamic. Nor does separating the provision of NEEDS among multiple collectives. Every subcollective will still exist under the overarching collective, and will still control various subsets of the total "shared resources" of the entire collective, so all subdividing does is complicate the structure without changing the basic relationship of individual to collective. Even Corporations are collectives providing commonly shared resources for the collective, derived from resources collectively harvested. Thus by studying the dynamics at the scale of a simplified "tribe" it's easier to see exactly how the individual and the collective interact.

So, let's look at this further, shall we? If we assume the role of "the Chief", what are our duties? We have been entrusted with the management of the tribe, and a failure on our part to do so properly will obviously spell doom not only for the tribe, but ourselves as well.

Obviously, our first duty is to ensure the basic needs, no? We have to make sure our tribe has enough food. This will involve assigning hunters, farmers, gathers, herdsmen, etc. It would make very little sense to assign those whose skills don't match a particular job to do that job, correct?  But how do we find out who is suited to each task? Obviously, some research is in order. If no-one in our tribe has any knowledge of how to do any of these tasks, we must educate them. If we educate all of them in every task, at least to start, we should be able to assess who has an aptitude for each profession, and who actually likes to do any given specialization. We could certainly assign the jobs at random, which is the quick and easy solution, the "short term" solution, but then we will likely deal with people resenting the work they are doing, and likely sabotaging the job in ways, reducing the benefits created, and thus leading to fewer resources available to the tribe. So, it behooves us as Chief to find jobs for each of our individuals that best suit them, so that they will be happy at what they do, and thus, be at their most productive. As chief, we cannot settle for short term benefits which use our resources less efficiently, but need to use the longest term strategies which have guaranteed returns on investment. Why? Because it is in our own best interests to do so. The better choice will always be the one which is more certain to produce benefits to the entire collective, instead of one which maximizes returns to one group at the expense of the other groups, because failure to do so is almost certainly going to end with a piking by the groups harmed by such a strategy.

This same logic applies to Shelter, Healthcare, Security, and even the education process itself. These are all needs that must be met for every individual, in order to make the collective run smoothly and in order to maximize the resources generated so that all members of the tribe can prosper. It makes very little sense to force a subset of the tribe to work to exhaustion while allowing another subset to idle about doing nothing of worth to the collective, no? While you can run the tribe this way for a time, it should be obvious that the subset forced to work will resent the subset doing nothing, as well as you as Chief for allowing this to occur, no? In other words, while such a pattern of behavior might confer some short term benefits ( the group getting the free ride will certainly appreciate you ), it is a strategy that in the long term will do nothing but harm the wellbeing of not just the tribe, but yourself as well. You will likely find yourself removed as Chief if you mismanage your tribe this badly.

The same goes if you decide to deny a section of your tribe any benefits for being a part of your collective. The group that you decide is "undeserving" is not going to be happy at your decision, no? In fact, they might be SO unhappy, that they will rise up and mount your head on a pike to show you how unhappy they are. So, if you value your own head, it would probably be a better idea to ensure that all members of your tribe benefit at least to the extent of having their basic needs met.

You see, you, as chief have to understand one fact, every single member of your collective has one goal. Their own personal self interest. They are part of your collective because they are expecting to receive benefits from being in your collective. Specifically, they are expecting to have to work less to receive their basic NEEDS by working with your collective, and to actually achieve more benefits by doing so than they can receive by working alone.  Got that? Every individual is a selfish, short sighted, and unreasonable animal. They don't care about "the big picture", nor can they see it, because they are not in the privileged position that you have as chief. Additionally, you have to understand that every single individual who is NOT PART of the collective is a threat to the collective.  Any individual that you fail to include in your collective will have a vested interest in providing for their own needs with the minimal amount of effort, which makes the resources collected by your collective an obvious target. Since they have no stake in the well-being of your collective, any damage inflicted to your collective by their predation will not be their concern.

There is no morality to this. No "good" or "evil". It's all about self interest.  The LONG TERM self interest of the collective dictates that every member of the collective must both receive the complete meeting of their NEEDS, and that it must include everyone, because any individual who is denied a part in the collective is a Predator that threatens the safety of the collective. While some might argue that it is the individual's responsibility to provide for their own needs, this argument is invalidated by the very purpose of joining a collective, which is to reduce the individual effort needed to provide for individual  needs. Unless the individual is receiving their needs from the collective, there is NO BENEFIT TO THE INDIVIDUAL for being a member of that collective. In order to prevent an individual from losing their stake in the collective, and therefore becoming a threat to the collective, it is in the best interests of the collective to provide all of the basic NEEDS at a minimum, and to exceed this minimum if possible.

Simply put, I ignore arguments about "morality", "non-aggression principles" and any others that assume the human animal to be "nobler" than any other animal when put into a survive or die situation. Experience has proven that given the choice between death and doing whatever is necessary to survive, the higher impulses, such as "morality", give way to the animal instincts to survive at all costs. I'm a cynic. I have to view the human animal as an animal, and to believe that they will always put their own self interests ahead of the collective. Thus the ONLY way to ensure that the individual is not a threat to the collective is to ensure that the individual's self interest is aligned with the collective's interest.

It's at this point a lot of people will make the mistake of assuming that this means that the collective is entitled to trick, con, or force what it sees as "the common good" on individuals within the collective. But this is a false assumption based on the historical idiocy that has done this numerous times. The truth is that the "common good" is something that the individuals within the collective determine for themselves, and it is the role of the "chief" to enact their desires. The problem is that the "common good" is very dependent on the "status game".  You see, depending on "status", various groups of the collective will desire very different things. What might be "good" for one group may be absolute "evil" for another. And when you have "Chiefs" who view themselves as members of one "status tier" or another, you often find short term thinking making some very bad decisions that tend to end up with the other status tiers sharpening their pikes to mount the Chief's heads on.

From studying history, it's easy to say what is NOT the duty of a "government", because these actions are things that lead to very poor short term thinking and actions that ultimately result in heads on pikes. For one, it is not the government's job to promote one status tiers interests over another, but it is their job to promote all status tiers equally, and to curb actions by any given group that causes harm to any other group. It is not the government's job to promote and protect any given religion, but it is it's job to prevent any given religion from causing harm to any individual or group.  It is not the government's job to tell you what you as an individual can or cannot do in a general sense, but it is it's job to prevent you from actions that cause harm to any other non-consenting individual.

In other words, it is the job of government to be a true neutral arbiter, the ultimate referee who insures that all members of the collective both have their needs met, and cannot actively cause harm to any other individual in the collective. Any activity beyond this, and it risks turning large sections of the collective into either predators on the collective, or parasites on the collective.

And here is where you have to get down to defining terms. Predators are easy. These are individuals or other collectives who view the collective as "lunch". The defining characteristic is that the predator exists OUTSIDE the collective. They are dangerous precisely because they are not part of the collective.

Parasites are exactly the same thing, only they exist inside the collective. They still view the collective as lunch, and are every bit as harmful as predators, but they are harder to deal with. The biggest trouble is that of actually understanding which parasitical behaviors are the most harmful. The easy answer is obvious. They cause harm to the overall collective. But often times that harm is not noticed. The problem is that parasites are very good at hiding the harm that they cause in SECRECY, or excuse it as the privilege of status.

And as you recall, the very reason I am using small scale tribal structure to illustrate the functions of government is because secrecy cannot really exist in such a small structure. However, as we have expanded past the size of tribes, secrecy has become the primary defense of parasites. They are aware that if the other members of the collective become aware of their activities, then out of self preservation, the collective will enforce penalties on the parasite, up to and including death in an effort to prevent the parasite from causing further harm.

To be blunt, a parasite is actually far more harmful than a predator, because of the fact that they are inside the collective, and disguise themselves. They can come from every level of the social tiers, but the amount of damage they can cause to the collective goes up exponentially with status. A low status individual, regardless of how clever, is very limited in the damage they can cause to the collective as a whole. But High Status actors, because of the roles they play in the overall collective, have the ability to inflict massive harm on the entire collective as a parasite, and there is no argument that can be made to dispute this.

The reason for this is because we are programmed to defer to higher status and to expect deference from lower status. There is no rationality to this, it is hard coded. It is an instinctive response that requires rational objectivity to overcome. And this is something that a Chief, or any representative of a collective that intends to represent the whole collective MUST overcome, because failure to do so will always result in short term thinking. It cannot do otherwise, because Status is a short term strategy based in the reproductive instinct.

As an example, let me discuss a situation you might have at least a passing familiarity with, your car.  Your car is likely the single most valuable item you own, in the sense that without it, your day to day life is likely going to be much more difficult.  You can probably survive without it, but for most of us, it's a "necessity".

Now, we can of course make an investment in our car, perform regular maintenance, oil changes, tune ups, all the basic things which keep that car in excellent shape, and which ensures that the car is going to be as reliable as possible. This is the "Long Term" behavior. Those of us who take such care of our cars are expecting that such small expenditures will reduce or even prevent much more expensive expenditures , or even loss of our car, while simultaneously expecting such actions to provide benefits both now and in the future in the performance and reliability of the automobile.

Then there's the "Short Term" behavior. Hey, who needs oil changes, or tires? That's money to buy beer with! It's idling rough? I banged up the fender when I was drunk? I'd rather have a few more dollars to spend on cigarettes and fast food. What's that? My Ox is starving to death while my grain silo is overflowing??? Let me go kick it a few times and make it keep going till it dies!

Yes, that last little bit was a deliberate reference to a parable, intended to basically illustrate that the vital difference between long term thinking and short term thinking has always been the same, regardless of where we are in history.  Short term thinking is ALWAYS about the moment. It ignores all future consequences. Even when we are FULLY AWARE of the long term consequences, short term logic is always that now is all that matters. It is "Instant Gratification" thinking.  And as my little illustration showed, it usually leads to long term bad outcomes, no matter how "successful" it might be in the short term.  Like Russian roulette, you might win five times in a row, but that single loss will cost you more than those five wins gained you.

By the same token, as a chief, you can certainly use short term strategies that have large immediate benefits for a section of your tribe by taking those benefits away from other members of your tribe, but eventually it will catch up to you in the form of a nice sharp pike.  You can certainly treat parts of your tribe as worthless and disenfranchise them, suppress them, etc., but sooner or later, that pike will be waiting.

The simple fact that I am trying hard to make here is that any stance from you as the chosen representative of the collective other than perfect neutrality, and any actions you take other than those which benefit all members of the collective is a long term failure. Every individual is part of your collective ONLY because being a member is beneficial to THEM PERSONALLY. Remove that benefit from any portion of the collective and you turn that portion into dangers to not merely other individuals in the  collective, but to you personally as the representative of the collective.  Produce a large enough group of disenfranchised, and they are likely to remove not only you as head, but the group you showed favoritism to as well, then redistribute resources and reform a new collective system, while your head makes a nice trophy on a pike.

And this logic works on every scale. From a tribe to a corporation to a nation to a society and even to a planet spanning civilization.

So, to get down to brass tacks, at its most elementary it is the role of a collective to provide for the needs of the individuals who comprise that collective.  And ONLY their needs. The collective can ONLY be responsible for needs that are universal in scope, and it cannot show favoritism in provision of those needs. It cannot and should not be responsible for the "morals" and "beliefs" of the individual, but it MUST prevent any group from harming any other group in the collective in its role as neutral arbiter. This also applies to business. The subcollectives MUST have a master collective which acts as neutral arbiter, and which prevents any subcollective from harming the overall collective. Above all else, the chosen representative of the collective MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL IN THE COLLECTIVE in order to ensure that it continues to use long term strategies for the good of the entire collective, and is incapable of enacting short term strategies which selectively benefit only members of a sub collective.

This should be quite clear here at the tribal level. The problem is that once you grow much beyond tribal size, we encountered a serious error mode.

What that error mode is, and how it affects everything, I will discuss in the next post.     

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sex, sex-bots, and feminism

This is a series of posts made in response to Hank Pellissier's article http://hplusmagazine.com/2009/12/11/sexbots-will-give-us-longevity-orgasm/

I think they make some pretty good reading, and clarify my views on gender equality, sex and "sex-bots" pretty well.

Submitted by Valkyrie Ice on December 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm.

Darn it Hank! You’re letting them know that robots are even going to take my job! XP

*giggle* Well, even when I’m a real life succubus and competing with sexbots for the bedroom olympics gold medal, having a real brain might give me an edge XP

Seriously though, this has been a long standing prediction of mine. Just watch prime time tv for a hour today. I lay you odds we’ll have actual sex showing up in prime time inside of five years.

Most taboos about sex are based on the primitive herder’s need to ensure survival. For a small tribe of herders, the only way to compete was numbers. If your band was bigger than their band than you would win in a territorial fight. It was all about the numbers.

So sex for any purpose other than procreation was banned. If it didn’t make a baby/new member of the tribe, it was outlawed. By saying God ordered it, you effectively enforced the unenforceable.

The Greeks and Romans had no hangups about sex, and neither really did the earliest Christians other than their various cultural mores. But sadly a very rabid early Christian father, who had previously been a hedonist, did what too many fresh converts did and so vitriolicly denounced everything he had done previously that he pushed Christians into even stricter sexual straightjackets than even the Jews had.

And well, since America was founded by people who sought the freedom to persecute each other to a greater degree than allowed by English law, we sadly ended up with the wonderful reality of double standards.

Sex is everywhere. No-one in our culture can avoid being exposed to it. But at the same time, we deny it constantly. It’s okay for a kid to watch the cold blooded killing of a hundred people in a action movie, but heaven’s forbid he watches Debbie Does Dallas. Go online, and well, as everyone knows the internet is for porn.

And even that isn’t the craziest thing we do. Our teens are raised to view dating as a war between a girl trying to stay a virgin, and the boys trying to get her to put out by any means possible. Any girl who fails to stay a virgin is a slut, and any boy who fails to get laid is a faggot.

We worship action heroes who treat the opposite sex as momentary pleasures, and who’s ability to get between their co-stars legs is taken for granted. We tell our kids in every single way possible SEX IS GOOD, while hypocritically trying to tell them it’s bad.

Second Life is often times ridiculed as a “pornoverse” but to be brutally honest about things, SL has sex poses, fetish gear, and everything else you can think of to appeal to the pervert in you for one reason, and one reason alone.


Released from the restraints of public hypocrisy people want to release their pent up libidos.

And now we are going to be entering the age of VR. As Joe Quirk said in the latest issue of H+, we’re looking at a future where clothes are going to be a joke. Between those sext messages you sent on your phone, scanning technology that will map your body to the nanometer of accuracy for 3d modeling, and AR that can put those two together to create an “X-ray” app, your modesty will cease to exist.

Sexbots? As controversial as they may sound now… we probably won’t even notice them growing more popular. To many VR people like me will be busy breaking down social taboos and inhibitions to make sexbots seem like much of anything.

And when those sexbots can act as surrogates? XDDDDDD

Needless to say, every last bit of tech applied to sexbots will also end up as a cybernetic enhancement option as well. Can we say the end of erectile dysfunction and the death of K-Y?

So, as a succubus, you could just say I’m simply preparing for the inevitable, and definitely highly sexual, future.

Submitted by Mr. Rick D. Kelly on December 21, 2009 at 8:18 am. (in response to a drunken misogynist rant about how women were destroying society by refusing to be subservient to men, and how sexbots meant that mankind could finally kill off all the females, later removed due to extremely offensive language and subject matter)

I agree with a lot of what Lance says because it’s true. For feminists it’s mostly an inconvenient truth. I don’t necessarily agree with the WAY Lance put it, but still a lot of it is true.

You don’t have to have been hurt by Women to see the breakdown and decay of Male-Female relationships. I can see fault on both sides, but as a Man I have to speak from the Male perspective.

For every guy who has found a real, good Woman who loves being a real Woman and not a gender role usurper or outright Man-destroyer, there are probably 100 more Men with opposite luck. That’s the reality that no one wants to face. The lovedoll industry is not as huge as it is because there are a bunch of happy Men having great lives with good Women… It’s large because of the reverse, and a lot of Men are tired.

Let’s be real; Women have the upperhand in relationships and society teaches Men either directly or indirectly (and very openly) that Women are to be catered to if you want them to stick around, and if you refuse it then something is wrong with you, or you get the ever popular “you’re gay” accusation. When falling into that never-ending chasm a Man is bound to find inevitable and unavoidable frustration at the end of the tunnel. It’s a good game for Women, they know it, and they’re winning easily, and that’s why I can’t see Male sex dolls ever becoming as big as a sector of the industry as Female dolls. Women can pretty much get what they need from Men a lot easier, the same cannot be said for Men.

If Female sex dolls/bots begin to hit the Tech point that Dr. Levy anticipates and they become affordable enough for the average Man to have, Women will for the first time in a long time have some real competition to battle with and things will get very interesting, although I fear that radical Feminists will no doubt be in the streets marching and protesting trying to get these banned under the eternally BS guise of “It objectifies Women!” all while ignoring the fact that Dildo’s and vibrators objectify Men far more since it reduces Men down to just one part and throws away everything else. In fact, some Canadian Feminists have already offered up a bill in Canadian Government to have Sex robots banned. So they obviously see the near future as well and want to stop it from happening. Let’s hope the Government steps aside and let’s people control their own bedrooms.

Check out TrueCompanion.Com … apparently, they’ve designed a Sex Robot that’s supposed to be capable of 2-way conversation and have sex. It’s going to be shown at the 2010 AVN Expo in about 2 weeks.

Oh, what a time we live in folks… oh, what a time.

-Rick D. Kelly

Reply submitted by Valkyrie Ice on December 23, 2009 at 6:49 am.

If sexbots were female only, you might have a point, and I have no doubt that a large number of men will indeed purchase them so that they can be free of actually having to make an effort to have an actual relationship with anyone but can enjoy all the sex they want. Seriously, that’s why the Fleshlight was invented. Why would I believe sexbots will be any different?

But that is by far and away the least interesting part of sexbots. If that’s all you foresee, I pity you. You may not be as up front about it as Lance was (during what he claims was a drunken rant at a x-mas party) but your post merely reveals how little respect you actually have for women as people as opposed to objects for your (male) gratification.

And believe me, as a succubus, I am all too familiar with being objectified. It’s my bread and butter, and has paid all my expenses in SecondLife since my first visit. I dance on a pole and strip so that others can enjoy the view of my virtual flesh.

But it isn’t the body that they tip. I’ve stood on that pole for hours without saying a word and made nothing. But when I flirt and tease, and make playful innuendos, I make lindens.

And I have never once had to resort to graphic sex talk or to selling my “tail”

Why? Because real people interact. I may be a wet dream, but what I am not is an object. I am me, and because I have fun being sexy and flirting and turning people on, I go out of my way to make myself attractive and sexy. I understand throughly what people really find attractive, and the body is only a tiny part of it.

Women will be competing with sexbots? Not hardly. They may be enough for some people, but for the most part I expect them to be used far more as surrogates for two HUMANS interacting in a Virtual Environment. At first, this will be in the form of robots controlled by the same animations as the Virtual Avatar. You will only be in control of initiating action, but the sexbot will provide the physical sensations to go along with the virtual experience. Your partner will not know if you are clumsy, if you suffered from premature ejaculation or even if you couldn’t get it up, just as you will never know if she’s faking it all.

However, that will only be a short phase, and it is likely that it will teach an enormous number of people, male and female, how to be a fantastic sex partner. As technology progresses, those rough sexbots will become more refined, and as we develop BCI to the point of allowing some two way reception, those sexbots will become remote versions of ourselves.

And just like our Virtual Avatars, it’s going to push us into demanding better ways to improve our non-virtual selves. We’re never going to see a world like Surrogates, because we will want to BE our surrogates, not experience them vicariously.

So, as I see it, sexbots are nothing more than a stepping stone. Far from being “competition” I think they will be exactly what is called for to see a real equality of the sexes, because all you men who THINK you simply want a completely complaint, willing woman without a single thought in her head that you don’t supply, will finally be able to get exactly what you’ve always wanted…

And inside of six months you will be desperately wanting to find a real woman who can supply that genuine human quality, and maybe you will finally realize our value as human beings instead of sex toys.

There is far more to sex than the simple act. But until a lot of humanity is forced to realize that, we’ll likely continue this idiotic objectifying of the sexes from BOTH sides.

Submitted by Mr. Rick D. Kelly on January 6, 2010 at 4:02 am.

In response to Valkyrie Ice,

You’re missing a number of things on this matter because you weren’t really reading carefully and being objective, but instead just chomping at the bit to go off on the typical objectification rant that has become routine in these types of discussions, and oh-so tired. Everything I said (none of which was misogynistic, but instead brutally honest, sorry you can’t handle it) are things that MOST Men do believe but probably won’t say to you because they’ve been trained by society to become whimpering dogs whenever they should call a Woman out on her BS.

My Wife is a feminist, but she’s not a Fem-Nazi. She’s a tradtional Woman, a strong real Woman who knows what that means. Most Women today do not measure up to that standard and are instead trying to be a Female-Male hybrid or trying to use sex as a weapon… or an indirect (or even openly direct) source of income (like what you claim to do in the artificial world of Second Life, lol), and then wondering why no Men want her or want to have a serious relationship with her, lol. Gee, I wonder why? LOL.

In addition, this New Age role-usurper crap that many Women today are doing is not feminism but it is instead just misandry and self-hatred.

Loving or hating Women has nothing to do with this, but I’m not surprised that you would hurl the typical “you’re a mysogonist” garbage. Because you are very, very wrong, allow me to correct you: I love and respect Women. I DO NOT love or respect whores, manipulating money and/or status chasers, gender-role usurpers, or the emotionally damaged looking for a crutch to relieve her stress on. There is a difference between a real good fully-formed Woman (which is rare), and the opposite that I described (which exists in incredibly high numbers).

To put into perspective, this is about technology and its purpose to meet Human needs and I merely pointed out some of the reasons and motivations that Men will use these for, and of course you took offense to it. You should spend some time reading some of the articles out there on this subject, visit and read some of the discussion boards, or watch some of the films. I’ve been doing that for a decade and I’m VERY much informed on this matter, probably as much or more than the Author of the book of subject. The motivations behind why guys get these all fall under the reasons I stated and more that I didn’t. Rather than making strawman arguments with comparisons to Second Life (lol, are you kidding me?) and yelling mysogyny with no actual proof other than because of your own misinterpretation of intent, go study these things and then come back informed to have a real discussion where you can respond rationally rather than just emotionally and accusatory. You owe it to yourself.

1. You should check out the link I posted at the end of my first posting. The True Companion bot is supposed to not only have sex but also have intelligent conversation and intimacty exchange. There is a Male and Female version.

I fully understand companionship being important aside from sex (I’ve been happily married for 21 years), that’s why I posted an example of something that is said to do both. Of course, you ignored that.

2. As technology advances even further (and it will do so rapidly), these robots will indeed speak, interact and have sex indistinguishable from a Human. If you know the field like I do, you can already see some technologies that have closely accomplished most of this, so it’s not going to be long before we see it hit fully, and it will certainly happen in our lifetimes.

When the two merge and it becomes affordable for the average Man (that’s the key part you overlooked), there *will* be some competition. Absolutely. You’re fooling yourself if you believe otherwise. If a robot can have an intelligent conversational exchange with you like a human (this technology already exists and it works remarkably well) and can also be intimate as well as having sex, there are going to be plenty of Men who will be into it. I know lots of Men who have already given up on Human Women and the robots aren’t even available for purchase yet, lol.

3. If you think there aren’t a ton of Men who only care about sex and will find these bots as a Godsend, then you are terribly naive on that matter. You REALLY need to get out more.

Men aren’t huddling into strip clubs or rub clubs or paying thousands for escorts/prostitutes or spending thousands traveling to Thailand or Brazil and sex resorts/destinations in those countries for conversation and companionship, lol. They’re going there for the sexual exchange on whatever level it comes from. Do you realize how much money is spent on these adult industries? Or how much is spent that isn’t even accounted for? Sexbots will at some point take up a huge chunk of that, because a lot of Men are spending a fortune just to have sex now, so it only stands to reason that if they can buy something that will give them that whenever they want and cost less money over the course of many years, it’s a natural progression to make the purchase.

4. Men and Women do not think the same on this matter. While plenty of Men enjoy other things apart from sex, it’s a biological response for Men to want sex with lots of Women, and committed relationships are societal constructions not biological ones. That is scientific and sociological fact.

It’s very different for Women, that’s why you probably think Men value the whole conversation-intimacy thing so highly. You don’t understand. If Men did value it as much as Women, you wouldn’t see thousands of books, talk shows, and lectures about Men having “committment and intimacy issues” with their Female companions. Give that some thought.

Reply submitted by Valkyrie Ice on January 8, 2010 at 12:36 am.

A woman is a female who is human,
Designed for pleasing man, the human male.
A human male is pleased by many women,
And all the rest you hear is fairy tale.

Then tell me how this fairy tale began, sir.
You cannot call it just a poet’s trick
Explain to me why many men are faithful
And true to one wife only.

[Spoken] They are sick!
[Singing] A girl must be like a blossom
With honey for just one man.
A man must be like honey bee
And gather all he can.
To fly from blossom to blossom
A honey bee must be free,
But blossom must not ever fly
From bee to bee to bee.

The King’s Song (The King and I )

Yes, where Lance would use whips and chains and torture, you use a velvet cage. It still comes down to “women have their place, and any woman who doesn’t chose to stay in that place is a dirty filthy whore.”

Putting a woman on a pedestal doesn’t make you any less a chauvinist. An object of worship is still an object.

I won’t argue that men and women have different biological instincts, or that they look for different things out of a relationship. I do indeed argue that FORCING every woman to conform to your ideal is just as prejudicial, wrong headed, and demeaning to women as Lance’s frothing rant.

Do men want sex? Of course they do. It’s the goal of every sperm to find an egg. Are men willing to pay for the privilege of having sex, yes. The whys of it’s cause are complex, and result primarily from the nearly schizophrenic way we treat sex and love by refusing to accept our biological drives as independent of our emotional ones and our double-standards for behavior allowed between men and women. By refusing to accept that sex is a natural function of humanity, and by repressing those biological drives, we’ve created that situation, and the only solution is to change our societal perceptions of sex by removing the very behavioral stereotypes you are promoting. So long as both sexes refuse to simply accept sex as a natural human activity, like breathing, but instead try to impart to it some “sacred” or “special” status, reserved for only those who fit the “expectations” of “normalcy”, it will continue. That repression is the root cause of almost every sexual dysfunction and fetish, and it occurs because we’ve turned sex into a commodity instead of acknowledging that it’s a biological need. We’re not going to change Alpha/beta behavior, or eliminate sex from the human race, but we can adjust our social conditioning about how we deal with our need for sex.

But there is far more to a RELATIONSHIP than just sex. Just as there is far more to being a woman than filling a role in reproduction. I am quite well aware of the fact that nearly every human activity can be broken down to attempts to increase mating success. But I am also just as aware that we are far more complex than JUST our mating instincts. We’ve got too many layers above those base instincts that exist and need to be attended to just as well. We are creatures of the mind as much as we are the body. Just like men, women are complex, thinking, free willed entities, and entitled to exactly the same respect and freedom of choice as men, be that to chose to follow traditional roles, or to do anything but, without having to deal with the stigma of being called sluts and whores by people like you.

Your “I love and respect Women. I DO NOT love or respect whores, manipulating money and/or status chasers, gender-role usurpers, or the emotionally damaged looking for a crutch to relieve her stress on.” is exactly why I call you a woman hater. You refuse to admit it, but by only allowing those women who meet your “ideals” to be “women” as opposed to simply accepting every female as a unique individual exactly equal to you in rights and freedom, you do nothing but reveal exactly how deeply you hate any female who doesn’t conform to your world view. We’re either (Madonnas) or (Whores) by your own words, and not allowed to be individuals.

The sad thing is you really believe your own BS. You truly believe that this is “supporting” women’s equality, and proof that you “love” women. You’ve blinded yourself to your intolerance and attempted to use evolutionary psychology to justify your beliefs. You’ve managed to brainwash yourself into believing you are the exact opposite of what you really are. It’s MY brutal honesty you can’t handle, because you cannot face your misogyny. You HAVE to lash out at me because I am revealing your cognitive dissonance.

There are just as many men out there who exhibit exactly the same behavior you assigned to “femi-nazi’s” but it seems that’s okay to you because they are MEN. Had you simply said “I prefer to deal with people who treat me as an equal and who respect me as an individual, and I don’t like to deal with people who want to use or emotionally abuse me” I would have been able to agree with you completely. Those traits are found equally in men and women alike, they are not gender specific. But you instead made it a statement of hatred against women by using it to define their status as “women” in your eyes. My statement merely addresses the modes of behavior I like and dislike, yours defines these behaviors in terms of strict gender roles, and dehumanizes any woman who fails to meet your definition. “Real” women must be such and such, every other woman is just a fake. You then generalized your attitude by claiming that MOST men believe as you do, and that they just are afraid to stand up to us big bad bitches. Then you proceeded to place all blame for your attitude on women, placing all of us who do not confirm to your “ideal” into one boat, and painting us as “femi-nazis”

For the record, I can’t stand Femi-Nazi’s either, Just because they are women doesn’t give them a right to dictate to me or any other woman how we should live our lives, or what “acceptable behavior” should be. But let me make it clear, I see no difference in gender stereotyping regardless of source. It is ALL discrimination and hatred. Extreme feminists are as guilty of chauvinism as the males they lash out against. Every human is an individual, and must be addressed as such. Actually, let me correct that. EVERY THINKING ENTITY is an individual and must be treated as such. Male, Female, Human, Uplifted Animal, Alien Being, or AI, it makes no difference.

And I took no offense whatever to your reasoning as to why men will use sexbots. What I took offense to is your assumption that any woman who refuses to fill the role you have assigned them automatically makes them a bitchy man hating whore who’s sole goal is to crush men under their steel heeled stilettos. You used that assumption as a given to justify your stance, portraying men as poor innocent victims who only want to escape from us men hating, penis envying, irrational and hateful, evil vicious monsters. Sexbots are our salvation from having to give women equality! We’ll be REAL MEN again once we have perfect sex slaves!

And since I won’t actively participate in my God given/Evolutionary dictated/Male supremest granted role as defined by you and assume my true place as a mere male accessory, but instead challenged you and your misogynist tirade, obviously I can only be the villain of the piece, irrational and insane because I refuse to see how reasonable it is for women to humbly accept their places as lesser beings who must be kept safe from the terrible evils of self will and freedom of expression. After all, men show they worship us by making sure we never have to use our pretty little heads for any purpose but bobbing up and down on their manhood, we should be grateful!

As a believer in REAL equality, it’s offensive in the extreme. My gender is of no more importance than my skin color, hair color, eye color, sexual preference, or language. I am an INDIVIDUAL, first, last and always, and as such, I deserve the same freedom to be myself that you do, Lance does, and every other thinking being on this planet does. Who I am is MY CHOICE, and you have no more right to tell me who and what I MUST BE than you want me telling you what you must be. And when you try to force me to fit into your preconceived stereotypes, I have every right to tell you to piss off.

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 advert 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.

Submitted by Stacy Leigh on December 17, 2009 at 11:14 am.

I hope I am alive and well when these surrogate lovers become available to the masses! I am already the incidental (or not so incidental, who knows for sure…) owner of 9 life sized sex dolls!!!! I am a photographer that works with a few of the doll manufacturers.

I await the day I can get my own sexy “Rosie the Robot”

Stacy Leigh

Reply submitted by Valkyrie Ice on December 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm.

Woot, always nice to meet a girl not ashamed of her sexuality and brave enough to show it! BTW, love the one of the dolll in the white page boy. I must admit being white haired myself, I have a weakness for other white haired girls. XDDDD (Yum)

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i237/Valkyrie_Ice/Val_red_dress.gif (me dancing)

I’m fairly sure we’re going to be seeing them inside of 15 years, if not sooner. VR will speed the process considerably by increasing the demand enormously.

In fact I see VR as a catalyst for lots of things. Once we get used to virtual copies of ourselves who can be exactly what we wish, no matter how odd, esoteric, or unusual, we’re going to want that in real life. We saw the Star Trek communicators and demanded cellphones into existence after all.

Once we have immersive audio/visual VR, we’re going to want to FEEL it too. And we’re not going to be satisfied with strapping ourselves into a complicated machine just to enjoy a quickie. We’re going to want hot, immediate, spur of the moment sex, not sex following a half hour getting into a haptic suit, strapping ourselves into a set of restraints to provide the feeling of actual volume by stopping our bodies at the virtual “contact” point, or inserting tubes in our nose to provide scents, let alone how would we provide sensation to our tongues? Talk about a mood killer XP

Two way BCI is a lot further away than sexbots. Give those dolls a basic skeleton, hook em to a computer to be run by a VR simulator, incorporate internal fluid stores that only need maintenance once a month, some self cleaning routines, and viola, you have a basic sexbot. With a vr rig, they can appear to be anyone. Just perfect for long distance relationships or casual sim sex.

The much more sophisticated versions Hank talks about are probably sixth or seventh gen. The first interactive ones are likely to be remotes like in Surrogates, only not mobile. When you meet someone in VR and you decide to play, you simply grant permission to the other person to control your bot, and the system overlays the Avatar over it. These simpler bots will give rise to the more sophisticated ones simply due to market demand. Porno is going to stop being watch only and become interactive. More people are going to have sex freely simply because it’s safe. By removing the risks of casual sex, like disease, pregnancy, homicidal lovers, etc, a lot of our social taboos are going to get shattered.

But knowing humans, we’re not going to be content with just VR sex. Once we’ve gotten a taste of what truly risk free sex can be, we’re going to demand it in reality, which is going to drive development of cybernetics, biotech, and a host of other technologies. Nor will we be content with being merely human anymore. The furry subculture is just a small, overly publicized group out of an enormous number of anything but human wannabes. We’re going to have vast numbers of vampires, werewolves, aliens, anime characters, game characters, famous actor clones, mythic monsters (sex with a Centaur or a Marilith could be quite entertaining hehehe) and who knows what else (like Succubi! ; 3 ). And we’re all going to demand the freedom to have sex with all of them. Indecent Exposure laws will go the way of the dodo when we demand our right to freedom of sexual expression. : )

So basically, I am of the opinion that by the time we have an AI that is equivalent to a human, we’re going to be woop de do, it’s just one more participant in the wild diversity were going to become.

And not incidentally, once everyone can travel the world in VR, and we start having millions of cross cultural love affairs… we’ll probably have a lot less desire to go to far away places, meet new and interesting people, and kill them. XDDDDD

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I am not an "Optimist"

Okay, I’ve been busy writing articles for H+ recently and I’ve been being accused rather frequently of being, “An Optimist.”

This post is about proving that I’m really not one.

To do this, I first need to clear up a few things by explaining that I am not a believer in AGW or many other “Green” ideologies, nor am I a “liberal” or “progressive” or any number of other “categories” that are made up to compartmentalize and divide humans into groups and cliques. I am a cynic first, last and always, and expect little more than the worst of the worst of human behavior to be the default operating mode of the human race.

So, don’t expect good news. There is none. It WILL get worse before it gets better. Pollution will continue, rainforests will be chopped down, and people are going to suffer and even die. There is no nice way to sugar coat this fact. No feel good story that will offset it. We are in a spiral downwards that will end with the complete destruction of the current economy, and quite probably even the end of many current world governments. There is no “solution”, no “quick fix”, no “positive thinking” that will prevent it. Our economy and many of the very most basic concepts we have built our civilization on are in the process of crashing down around our ears. Your job is unlikely to survive this event, your education is going to be meaningless when it happens, and this nice comfortable world we live in is doomed.

Actually, I lied. That WAS the good news.

You see, it’s something that more or less has to happen. It’s the only way to move beyond today and walk forward into a future beyond all imagination.

Humanity has built a house. It’s a very nice house, but as nice as this house is, it’s built on a foundation that can no longer support the house we’ve built. Like the House of Usher, it’s got cracks forming everywhere. We’ve got millions of people running everywhere trying to fix one crack or another, from Greenpeace to PETA to the AGW crowd to who knows who else is out there trying to fix this or that problem.

But all of those “fixes” are pointless, because none of them address the fact that the foundation itself is crumbling.

But to see this fact, you first have to understand what that foundation is, and that is where I feel that the majority of the human race makes a fundamental left turn away from reality. You see, we humans like to pretend that we are not animals, and that we do not have instincts. But this is pretty much a lie we tell ourselves.

Humans are driven by two primary instincts, and it is these instincts that lie behind not only our successes, but our failures. Those instincts are the co-operative survival instinct that drives us to create “collectives” which enable us to survive more easily by sharing the work and the resources needed to ensure survival, and the competitive instinct that then seeks to “divide” us into “alpha/beta” categories to ensure reproductive “success”.

When you accept these two instincts as the basic foundation of human behavior, you come to realize that regardless of the complexity of our present society, every action humans take comes down to an action intended to fulfill one of these two most basic instincts. I’ve discussed this rather extensively in a previous blog post at http://valkyrieice.blogspot.com/2010/07/on-government.html and trying to discuss it in this one would not only be redundant, but take up far too much of the post, but it’s vital that you understand this view in order to understand why I say that there is no way to fix the “house” that is our current civilization and economic reality. It cannot be saved, and we have no real need to save it anyway. In fact, the harder we try to “fix it” the worse we will hurt ourselves as a species.

Why? Because everything you believe about reality is wrong. And I am not talking about your religious beliefs, I’m talking about all those little things that you take for granted, like that person you see in the mirror, or that drudgery you trudge to day after day to earn your paycheck that you think is absolutely vital to your continued survival. I’m talking about that belief you have that tomorrow will be just like today, and that you will still be you, or that Bob down the street will still be Bob down the street.

Our entire civilization is built on a set of unchanging assumptions about ourselves. We talk about equality, but underneath our high minded ideals we all know that we are NOT equal. Some of us are smarter, some faster, some more agile, some prettier, some more creative. Our entire world is divided into one “clique” or another, from our earliest days to our last breath. We have countless ways to divide every human we meet into “us” or “them” and determine our “superiority” or “inferiority” to them on the social pecking order. Even “The Market” and “The Economy” are little more than proxies for this universal “pecking order” in which “money” is directly translatable into “social status”

It’s this “foundation” that is crumbling, and which cannot be saved. And the fact that this foundation needs to be destroyed in order to build a new civilization doesn’t make the reality of unemployment, human suffering, and authoritarian oppression attempting to prevent the collapse of the status quo any more palatable.

But like a forest fire clears away old debris to make way for new growth, what will come after is what makes it all worthwhile.

So, now that you’ve heard the bad news, let me go on to explain why that foundation is crumbling, which is more or less my main subject, but which wouldn’t have made much sense without the context. So now that I’ve proven to you that I’m a cynical pessimist, maybe you’ll spare me the accusations of being a starry eyed dreamer when you’ve finished the rest of this article.

Because, you see, it’s what is causing that foundation to crumble that makes me look forward to the future that will emerge from the ruins.

To begin, I would like to introduce you to a concept you will likely be hearing a lot of in the next decade: Additive Manufacturing.

It’s a fancy name for something you’ve likely already heard of, 3d printing. In traditional manufacture, we start with a lump of something, then whittle it down into the “product” we want. Like Michelangelo, we cut away everything that is not “David”. There’s nothing wrong with this method, and we’ve made amazing advances in making devices this way, but simply put, we’re reaching the limits of what can be done by “milling away” a lump of material to leave behind the object we want. As impressive as such displays as this one ( http://singularityhub.com/2010/04/05/5-axis-robot-carves-metal-like-butter-video/ ) are, what if we wanted to incorporate electronics into the finished piece? Obviously, we would be able to make areas to enclose the electronics, and channels to run the wires through and so on, but that means we have to make a helmet with who knows how many parts, with individual sections produced on separate machines, via separate processes, and then assembled to make the final product. But, then we have to worry about how we attach all those pieces together to make the final product too, right?

We have, of course, made production lines and machines capable of making all those individual parts. It’s been one of the primary results of the industrial revolution. Being able to make millions of identical parts is one of the triumphs of modern technology, and has been a huge factor in enabling us to create our advanced civilization, but it’s become a stumbling block to further innovation. Why? Because it’s become a barrier to small scale industry. It’s not economical to build a complete assembly line to build five or six products. This has thus made it “too risky” for businesses to create a product that might sell only a few hundred or a few thousand items. It also means that in order to meet demand, manufacturers must make thousands to millions of items in the hope that all of them sell, and if demand is less than anticipated, essentially waste all those extra items. This in turn makes the mass market overly sensitive to economic upturns and downturns. Since it takes months to years to design, create an assembly process, and then actually make the product, manufacturers won’t bother with anything other than what they feel is going to be a 100% successful product. Because of this, subtractive manufacturing has become a “gateway” through which only a small number of innovations may pass, and which discourages “revolutionary” innovation in favor of “evolutionary” fine tuning of past successes.

There are many advantages that mass manufacturing has brought with it, such as the economies of scale which have enabled massive reductions in the cost of nearly everything, and the computer revolution certainly would have been impossible without it, but there are very definite limits to what can be made via subtractive manufacturing, and while we haven’t reached them yet, we are getting nearer to them with every passing year.

So what really makes “Additive Manufacturing” different than “Subtractive Manufacturing?” Right now, not much. We’re still perfecting the various processes and expanding the materials that can be used, but progress in this is proceeding at a massively fast rate. When the first 3D printers were created over a decade ago, they were little more than glorified printers. I can recall a model of the earth created by essentially cutting sheets of paper via laser into precise shapes that were then glued together layer by layer to make the finished globe. But since then we’ve made enormous progress, so much so that the army is researching a derivative of that original laser printer to fuse titanium particles into finished parts for instant tank repair. ( http://www.mitre.org/news/digest/advanced_research/08_10/layer.html ) We’ve also learned how to use different materials from plastic to stem cells to conductive metals and dyes. DuPont recently printed a 50 inch Oled display in under 2 minutes using various layers of conductive fast drying dyes laid down in precise patterns. ( http://www.slashgear.com/50-inch-dupont-oled-display-printed-in-under-two-minutes-1785704/ )

But it’s what we are likely going to be able to do within a decade that makes Additive Manufacturing so disruptive. To begin with, it’s going to eliminate mass production. Eric Drexler and I disagree about this fact, but to put it bluntly, when 3D printers have matured, assembly lines will be quickly phased out of existence. Why would you need an assembly line to make sub pieces of a final product when the printer can print every single sub assembly needed for something with moving parts, or can print an entire device that doesn’t require moving parts? 3D printing also makes it possible to create devices that are impossible to create with subtractive manufacturing, such as a tablet computer that is a single solid block of plastic in which every circuit is embedded, the entire surface is simultaneously a display and a camera, as well as a solar panel, and which is completely impervious to water, dust, sand, and effectively indestructible under most environmental conditions, which can be made for pennies per unit.

It can also print stemcells to manufacture organs, as Organovo has already proved. ( http://www.organovo.com/news/press/17 )   By mid decade, it could eliminate the need to have transplants, by simply printing out a new organ from the patient’s stem cells. By decade’s end, we could even be using it routinely for minor cosmetic surgeries. Want pointed ears like Spock’s? Just print them out, and have your surgeon replace your ears with the new pointed ones, and he’s even likely to use more stem cells to speed heal the wounds, using a layer of stemcells between your skull and the new ear to create new tissue in a matter of hours instead of weeks. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. ( http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/11/28/total-gender-change-within-decade/ )

But, let me ask you this. What’s the difference between growing a heart for a human, and growing a steak? They are both possible to produce with the correct stem cells, so what really separates the ability to create medically viable living organs, and the ability to create delicious muscle tissue from a cow?

Not really much at all. Once we’ve solved the problems of making organs, making ribeyes will be a walk in the park. Yes, there are numerous issues that need to be solved for mass production, but we are making such enormous progress in the field of bio-printing that it seems likely we could see “food printers” become a reality by decades end as well. That’s not to say they will be commonplace, or have eliminated the need for agriculture or the cattle industry, but functional commercial units are possible.

But even as marvelous a possibility as that is, it’s still not why 3D printers will be so majorly disruptive. It’s the fact that additive manufacturing will eradicate the entire concept of “stores” as places you “go to” to “buy stuff.” You see, while we will start off with large manufacturing companies developing and building massive and large scale printers to make cars and airplanes and ships, for the “average customer” it’s kind of pointless to stock a store full of small items that could be printed on demand. It’s a waste of money to pay a clerk to stock the shelves, a waste of space to have a physical store, and a waste of time to ship an item from a central location. While we will start out with printers in the hands of manufacturers, they won’t stay there, and it won’t be because we demand personal manufacturing devices. It’s going to be because as 3D printers become commonplace, manufacturers are going to realize that they can cut out the middlemen. There’s no need to make a product, store it, ship it, pay taxes to import or export it, or even keep an inventory when a customer can simply buy the product from your website and have it printed out right in their own home. We will start out with factory based printers, then shift to store based printers, and end up with home manufacturing units.

Did you grasp the inevitable logic of this occurrence, or did your mind immediately jump to dismiss its possibility? If you’re like most people I’ve discussed this with previously, you’ve probably missed the single factor that makes this inevitable. Cost-cutting. Look at this from the manufacturer’s side. The only cost they have incurred is the R&D cost of designing an item, and the cost of running a website. They don’t even have to concern themselves with obtaining the raw materials to make an item from, nor do they have to pay a staff to run the printers, pay the electric bills to run the printers, rent a building to house the printers, pay a transporter to haul the products to market, have a warehouse to store extra products. In fact, they will have put ALL of these issues off on the customer. All that they will have to be concerned about is designing a product, testing a few dozen prototypes to fix the rough edges, and viola, a market ready product at minimal cost that need only sell a few thousand copies to pay off design fees, at which point EVERYTHING ELSE IS PURE PROFIT

If I have faith in anything it’s in corporate greed. Once it’s cheap and easy to put a 3D printer in every home and eliminate every cost of manufacturing by the “manufacturer” by passing it on to the customer, they will do so in a heartbeat. And they won’t give a damn about the consequences, because the only concern will be the profit of the moment. Those CEO’s will be all too happy about the billions they will save by making their companies cost nearly zero to run while still selling the same number of products at the same price they used too. Corporations are all too predictable.

But the fact will still remain that by doing so, those very same corporations will be destroying themselves. They will be counting on name brand to continue to carry the same weight it did in the industrial era, and assume that by eliminating costs, they will be able to keep right on charging the same price while making almost pure profit. And they will be right, at first. Humans are nothing if not creatures of habit. In fact, if you look at the rise and fall of Second Life as a business platform, you’ll see a real life example of what will inevitably occur. Hundreds of Big Name businesses went to SecondLife expecting to be as successful there as in first life, but since the object creation ability in SL gives the little guys the exact same ability to compete as the brand names, they had a rather difficult time competing. Branding just doesn’t have the same impact when anyone with a little photoshop knowledge, and a smidgeon of talent can offer a product of equal quality for a fraction the cost. There were many other factors as well, but they went in expecting to be the big dogs, and found they were just another member of the pack.

And once there’s a printer in every home capable of making almost any product, there’s absolutely nothing that will stop someone from deciding they don’t care about a name brand but will be quite happy with a knock-off that does exactly the same thing, but costs almost nothing. So when people start realizing that ANYONE can design a product, and sell it online exactly like a corporation, that “name brand” is going to mean less and less, just like it did in SecondLife. By pushing the cost of manufacturing off on the consumer, corporations will open themselves up to competition from every quarter. Subtractive manufacturing requires massive resources to be competitive. Additive manufacturing will cost nearly nothing to be so. And unlike subtractive manufacturing, a product doesn’t need to sell millions of copies to be successful. This will be true regardless of what the product is, be it an electronic device, or a new type of roof shingle, or even a new biochemical concoction like a steak with garlic glands that activate when you cook it, to that pointed ear design I talked about earlier.

You will of course be thinking that the corporations won’t make it that easy, after all, they thrive on preventing competition, and you’d be right. I fully expect every effort will be made to try and lock a customer into “exclusive contracts” that would force the end user to buy a different printer for every brand name, and to create “DRM” for printer designs and products. But if the iPhone taught us anything, it’s that where there is a will, there is a way. “Jailbroken” printers that are “DRM free” will hit the market within hours to weeks of the corporate ones, as well as DIY printers like RepRap ( http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page ), and the Open Source market will eat them alive. I’m sure that like the MPAA and RIAA, a few sensational cases of prosecution by big companies against various open source products that are “too similar” to their “proprietary design” will make the news, but the sheer volume of competition will overload the ability of the courts to keep up, and the public will ignore the random few who get raked over the coals, and before you know it, the corporations will go bankrupt as product “costs” trend towards zero.

And note I said trend towards. It won’t reach zero because you will have to pay for the power and the raw materials needed to supply your 3D printer, but there are other factors that are likely to make those expenses minimal, among them numerous advances in such areas as solar, hydrogen fueled devices, ultracapacitance batteries and even various flavors of fusion for the power required, and developments in materials design too numerous to list just yet, since I will covering them a little later. However, I’m going to stress something here, a reason WHY the “open source” movement is going to do so well against corporations. Subtractive Manufacturing needs “workers” to man the factories. But Additive Manufacturing is more or less 90% automated. There will be no need for “workers” or “factories”, and thus no need for humans to be those workers. The “open source” DIY movement will overwhelm the corporations simply because with so many people out of work, making no income or minimal income, they will have little choice but to buy the “cheap knockoffs” and “almost free” designs. By “cutting costs” so drastically by eliminating factories, warehouses, delivery systems, and stores, the corporations will also be eliminating the “consumers” who they depend on to make those billions, because those “consumers” are the very same people they are firing in order to maximize profits. In their quest to wring one more bonus out of the market, they are in the process of killing their own cash cow. And with so many people out there jobless, where do you think they will turn to try and make money? With a few tutorials on product design, software assistants for making a web page and free 3D cad systems like Google’s Sketchup, you’re going to see a flood of new products being made available to anyone with a 3Dprinter. The “Gate” that currently exists that limits new product design will have come crashing down, and Joe Schmoe from Idaho will be on an equal footing with those “Brand Names”.

Now, this is not going to take place overnight, but I would be willing to bet it will take less than a decade from the time that Additive Manufacturing becomes a “commercial manufacturing process” (probably adopted by the electronics manufacturing industry first due to the need for shorter and shorter product development times between “generations”) and the home 3D manufacturing unit. At the current rate of progress, that starting date is likely to be within the next few years. There are already companies in the process of setting up those first additive manufacturing factories as I write this, ( http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/10/large-format-3d-printers-making-large.html ) and as I mentioned above the army is already researching the ability to use 3D printers in the field for immediate creation of parts for repairs. This is already much too far along to view as anything but a near certainty.

And as you can see, not much of it is good news for anyone looking for work, or for the old dreams of becoming wealthy. But it’s not really bad news either, because at the same time additive manufacturing is destroying the old systems of subtractive manufacturing, they will be continuing the reductions in costs that “economies of scale” enabled, only they will be extending it to EVERY scale. It’s no longer going to cost less to make millions of items than it does to make a dozen, it’s going to cost the same no matter how many or how few items are made, period. So even though there’s not really any improvement in the job situation on the horizon, it is likely not going to cost as much to meet people’s needs. This makes “Wealth” a lot less meaningful as a status marker, because lack of money isn’t going to mean a lack of material comforts, and quite hopefully, as 3Dprinters become able to print organic materials as well as inorganic ones, it’ll also mean that basic needs like food will no longer require significant portions of the limited incomes the growing numbers of unemployed will have. In this sense Additive manufacturing will be a “Great Leveller.”

Which is good, because I have a lot more bad news for anyone looking to “succeed” in our current economy of scarcity. You see, just a few days ago as I am writing this, they created a working nanoprocessor. ( http://www.mitre.org/news/releases/11/nanoprocessor_02_10_2011.html ) Additionally, they created a solution to the last major problem with constructing graphene processors, which was a low “Band Gap”. If you aren’t familiar with how a transistor works, basically if you visualize a stream, with a dam across it, and a gate in the middle of it, you have the basic idea of what a transistor does. When the gate is closed, it stops the flow of water, when it’s open, it passes water through. That “dam” also has a “height”, if the height is too low, water just goes over the top of it even when the gate is closed. That “height” is the band gap. For all its advantages, graphene had a very low band gap, which meant that it didn’t make a good “dam”. However, if you’ve read my article on graphene ( http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/05/03/graphene-next/ ) you’ll recall I talked about how the shape of graphene affected it’s electrical properties? Well, it turns out that a squared u-shape bend ( http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/02/u-bend-graphene-transistor-breakthrough.html ) is all it takes to make a band gap high enough to create transistors every bit as functional as silicon. Additionally, a new material Molybdenite ( http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/45056 ) is looking to be just as useful as graphene in nanoelectronics. The irony is at almost the same time we discovered molybdenite as a possible solution to graphenes low band gap, we solved the low band gap problem.

So why is any of this bad news? Well, the answer to that involves several factors. First, it means that most of the barriers to manufacturing THz speed computers have been overcome. One way or another, we are about to make computers a thousand times more powerful than any that have ever existed before. Think about that while you are looking at that monitor reading this. Imagine that computer you are using is just one node of a thousand. That behind the screen you are looking at is a computer with all the power of the new Chinese supercomputer. ( http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-chinese-supercomputer-world-fastest.html ) Have you done that?  Good. Now look at your cell phone and imagine all that computing power has been packed into something the exact same size. Then, once you’ve managed to wrap your mind around that, watch as IBM’s Watson plays Jeopardy. ( http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2376035,00.asp )

If you failed to make the connection there, I won’t be surprised. Watson is an entirely new type of computer that many people probably do not comprehend the ramifications of. In fact, I had a friend completely dismiss Watson’s importance by comparing it to Big Blue, a highly specialized computer doing a highly specialized task. What she failed to understand is that Watson is a demonstration of a semantic UI, or what John Smart calls a “Conversational User Interface.” ( http://www.accelerationwatch.com/lui.html ) In other words, unlike any computer program ever existing before, Watson UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH. That’s right, Watson isn’t comparing individual letters like most search engines. It comprehends what WORDS mean in the same way that humans do, and it’s doing so at the same speed that a human does. Even if Watson loses in the official match, it is still a breakthrough that has dire consequences for the future of the Economy of Scarcity.

You see, Watson isn’t searching the net for information, It’s actually read hundreds to thousands of general knowledge books and built a data base in which it comprehends the CONTEXT of the data, not just the letter combinations. Where Google’s search engine can offer you thousands of links in which the specific letters you type in can be found, Watson understands the QUESTION and can provide ANSWERS.

Now, I’m sure most of you have read about how the internet is a vast information network connecting all of humanity. And I’m sure all of you are just as aware of the fact that there is SO MUCH information on it that finding any specific article of information can be difficult.  Put any query you wish into Google and odds are good you will find at least a hundred links, all of which may only partially apply to the question you have. From there, you have to sort out yourself what information is good, and what is bad.

Watson can change that. Right now, it’s run by a pretty sophisticated supercomputer that’s probably of considerable size. But given all those advances in computer power I discussed above, how long do you really think it will be before a Watson level semantic UI can be run by any computer? And long before we see it on our personal “computerphone” we will see it used by Google and Bing, and all those other search engines to create a “Semantic Web.”  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_Web )

Now, you are probably still wondering why I can say that any of that is “bad news,” but I haven’t given you all the pieces of the puzzle yet, so let me have you think about what the ramifications of computers able to understand semantics actually means. Semantics is all about interpreting “meaning” which is actually a very fluid concept. Words can sometimes say one thing and mean another. We humans excel at comprehending “puns” and “sarcasm” and various other forms of “wordplay.” In fact, Jeopardy is well known for these very kinds of wordplay. By having Watson play Jeopardy, IBM is demonstrating that Watson is not just able to comprehend Basic English, it’s capable of interpreting the nuances as well.  You won’t have to talk to it in idiot simple language, but can communicate with it exactly like you can with a fellow human. As time goes by, Watson is only going to improve in this ability.

All of which means that Watson will be able to compete with humans in many jobs that cannot currently be automated. It also means that it will be used to make many jobs that currently are only partially automated fully so.

I used to be a Customer Service Rep for SONY. During my employment, SONY rolled out a new system it called SONY Maxx. Maxx was a voice based “operator” that could understand customer complaints in a very limited way, and through a menu based system, enable customers to get answers to common “problems”, mostly those that we service reps called ID:10t or PEBKAC errors, (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair). Only those calls which actually required a human capable of comprehending the nuances of language were passed through this system to the CSRs. And even most of those were of the “This doohickey that makes the arrow move about the screen isn’t working” variety, or of the “I just clicked yes on a whole bunch of neat stuff I found on the web and now I can’t get this purple ape off my screen.” kind of stuff. Most of us could provide solutions to customers without even needing to bother searching the database, but we still had to document step by step what we did to fix the problems. Every day, every call, we built a database of solutions for nearly every possible problem that a customer could have, from the most ridiculous to the actual serious problems. I myself contributed hundreds of problem solutions to that database, mostly about fixes and workarounds for issues caused by various software programs and the locations of where I found those fixes.

Watson could probably do my job, with very, very, few cases that it would have to pass along to an actual human tech. With one very crucial difference. SONY had several thousand CSR’s scattered around a dozen or so call centers. With Watson, and sufficient computing power, they could probably do the exact same job with less than a dozen top notch techs. Watson could read through that entire massive solutions database and provide an answer to nearly any question a customer could ask. And it could do so 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of call volume, and without ever needing a break, or food, or having to use insurance, or getting into a fight between CSRs, or having a bad day, or showing up to work drunk, or having any single human foible.

And for those of you who I hear protesting that humans would give “better customer service,” let me clue you in on a fact of life. The “Customer Service” division was controlled by “Marketing” and was primarily concerned with getting the customers registration info, like names, addresses and phone numbers. There was no concern with “fixing” a customer’s problem. Remember that “Purple Ape”? It was called the Bonzi Buddy, and it was actually fairly easy to uninstall. SONY’s “solution” to it? Reformat the computer to original configuration, wiping all the customers data.  Had a driver conflict? Wipe. Had a malfunctioning program? Wipe. Had any software related problem at all? Wipe. We CSR’s would get lower “grades” for actually taking the time to walk a customer through an actual fix. SONY has just two “accepted” solutions to any problem. Wipe and reformat, or send the unit to be serviced. Every other solution in the database was “optional” if we weren’t “busy” with high call volume.

Are you still so certain that corporations actually give a damn about customer service? Personal experience has shown me that they only pay it lip service, otherwise you wouldn’t be calling CS these days to get someone who only barely speaks English. Believe me, Watson is the answer to the corporations problems with those pesky customers who actually have the unmitigated gall to actually want the company to provide SUPPORT for their products.

Now, understand, in order to have the CSR job at SONY, it was required to either possess an A+ certification, or to prove equivalent knowledge. That means that it was a “Knowledge Based Job” for a “Skilled worker”, and not an “Unskilled labor position.” It’s not a “Blue collar job” like those manufacturing jobs I discussed that were threatened by 3D printers. It’s a “White Collar Job” that is supposedly “safe” from automation.  And if Watson can do a CSR job for a large extremely high profile company like SONY, which CSR job anywhere is safe? They all work EXACTLY the same way SONY does, after all, with those massive data bases of “solutions” created by decades of CSRs.

And if Watson can do a “knowledge based job” like “IT technician” what makes you think ANY “knowledge based job” would be beyond it? Like, for example, Law. We have HUNDREDS of years worth of “databases” of “solutions” on file. With massive increases in computing power, and equally massive increases in memory storage, how long do you really think it will be before law firms are using Watson to build cases for them? And how long after that to do you think they will be firing all those legal researchers, paralegals, and junior attorneys? And how long after that do you imagine that a few disgruntled ex-employees start using Watson to file lawsuits against those companies for various reasons, all basically intended to allow those “ex-elites” to get back into the “status tier” they were so abruptly tossed out of?

How about medical technicians? How many of them do you think can compete with Watson? When after digesting millions of medical records it can diagnose an x-ray or read a cat scan better than a human? We are already developing a gestural based UI for surgeons so that a robot can replace scrub nurses at handing them instruments ( http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-future-surgeons-robotic-nurse-gesture.html ), and using Kinect’s to enable them to give force feed back information for remote robotic surgery ( http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/01/microsoft-kinect-hack-used-to.html ) so why would anyone assume that other computer based advances like Watson would leave the medical industry alone?

And how many other knowledge based jobs could we find for Watson to do? We like to tell ourselves that humans are too versatile to ever be replaced by robots or software in the labor market, but how much longer will this really be true? Computers actually able to comprehend language certainly are not “A.I.” but I know from experience how little “intelligence” is actually needed to perform many “knowledge based jobs.” All it takes is being able to provide a correct answer to a properly asked question. All the years of training, study and memorization that it takes to enable a human to be able to perform this task are meaningless to a computer, which needs only to access a database, a database that we humans have been building for decades already.

Feel free to find any excuses you want to try and give yourself some hope. I’m simply looking at this logically. Once Watson has made its way out of the lab, and into real world applications, your education will become meaningless. All those years you spent going to college to learn your specialized knowledge can be condensed by Watson to however long it takes for it to be connected to a database of that same specialized information and digest it the same way it digested all those general knowledge books to play Jeopardy. Somehow, I have this feeling that it will take considerably less time for a “Watson” to become an expert in any given field than it takes a human. Will every job be able to be reduced down to a “question asked/answer given” format? Of course not, but how willing are you to bet that Watson won’t improve and become more capable as computers continue to grow increasingly more powerful? Especially when you consider the advantages that Watson will give to not just businesses, but the common person as well. Because consider this, Watson will make “Instant Expert” apps possible.

If you think about that for a few seconds, it should be obvious that by connecting Watson to a database and creating a program that can answer nearly any question you could ask about a particular subject, what you’ve basically done is enabled ANYONE to gain the benefit of all of that knowledge. Not only will Watson “automate” millions of jobs that require years of specialized learning to do, it will enable good ole Joe Schmoe to have access to that same knowledge.  Remember I was talking earlier about how anyone with a 3D printer and some design knowledge could compete on an equal footing with a giant corporation? Watson could enable anyone to have every bit as much “design knowledge” as the “pros” In fact, it would be like having a “pro” on hand 24 hours a day 7 days a week able to answer any and every question you might have. Yes, the corporations will have the advantage at first, but as time passes, and Watson programs improve and increase in functionality, that advantage will rapidly vanish.

How long that will take I can’t tell you, but I don’t expect it to be very long, because as Watson begins replacing all those professionals in the job market, what do you think those experts are going to be doing? I know what I would be doing… making improvements in the open source versions of Watson to put the company that sacked me so the CEO could keep making a bonus out of business.

But Watson has a lot more uses than just technical ones. Like I mentioned earlier Watson could also replace legal researchers, which could result in “Software Attorneys” which can not only advise you on the proper way to file your case, but provide for all the necessary “precedents” needed to ensure your case wins. I’m sure you could see also see how many other “professional services” could also be provided by a similar “Expert App”

Then think about how Watson technology could be applied in the field of education. Imagine having your professor on hand, regardless of subject. Imagine a child having access to such tutors from early childhood. Imagine having a forum discussion with Watson providing you data to support your arguments, or proving that the data fails to support them.  Imagine how useful Watson is going to be to self education. Imagine a child in Africa having access to their own Watson’s.

In other words, Watson is a “Great Leveler” just like Additive Manufacturing. But it’s going to undermine the “marker” of “educational advantage” far more than 3dprinting will weaken the marker of “wealth.”

Which brings me to a third “marker” used to play our status games. Physical differences. You’ll remember I mentioned how Bioprinters would likely be used to produce human organs within the next decade or so correct? I even pointed out the “Spock ear” idea for cosmetic surgery?

Now I want you to contemplate what both bioprinters and Watson type “Expert systems” will mean to the DIY bio crowd as well as what inorganic printers and ES software will mean for the DIY robotics crowd. Now let me also have you contemplate my previous articles on VR Pt 1: ( http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/01/17/virtualization-rise-avatar-open-sim-project/ ) Pt 2: ( http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/01/25/virtualization-avatar-mirrorworlds-part-two/) and Pt 3: ( http://hplusmagazine.com/2010/02/15/virtualization-virtual-reality-part-3/ )

Did a shudder just run down your spine? Did you just have visions of tails and horns and batwinged succubi?

Good, because I want you to seriously contemplate a world in which physical appearance is as changeable as what clothes you wear.

And no, I am not suggesting that biomodification is going to be as easy or cheap as changing hairstyles. Not at first. But with Watson class applications in the hands of the DIY crowd, do you really believe that we’re going to NOT start making modifications to ourselves? We’ve already got people doing it!

But with so many highly trained and skilled people suddenly out of work due to the other technologies I’ve discussed, and with the advantages those very technologies will grant to even the non-highly skilled and trained, I more or less expect to see a lot of extremely creative products made to cater to just about every non-mainstream kink, fetish, obsession, and desire. After all, once products don’t have to be “widely appealing” or “sell massive numbers” to be successful, the “Long Tail” effect is likely to become predominant.

That means I expect to see stemcell printers being used to create vampire fangs, pointed ears, and even tails eventually. I expect to see body suits able to cling like skin that are covered in animal fur. I expect to see face masks that perfectly fit the owner’s skull and alter its appearance to give the illusion of having an animal’s head. I expect "Arnie Suits" and "Pamela suits" and even "Tron suits" right along side Predators and Elf maidens. Storm Trooper armor next to Anime cat girls.

In short, I expect an extremely bored, out of work population using instant expert software and home based additive manufacturing units to turn real life into “Secondlife.” Toss in ever more sophisticated electronics, ever more sophisticated robotics, and ever increasing databases of functional designs, opensource programs, and ever growing numbers of people turning to creative “solutions” to cure boredom, frustration, and a sense of “purposelessness” caused by a lack of available jobs, and I think we’re probably going to go more than a little bit insane for awhile.

Why? Because everything we’ve built our lives and societies around is going to come crashing down around our ears, but at the same times, those problems we’ve spent those lives worrying about will be vanishing.

Do you understand how many people have built their entire identities on their job? Or their looks? Or their physical prowess? Or how many people have allowed themselves to be defined by struggles against various problems?

How will we react when wealth is no longer a marker that divides the “have’s” from the “have not’s” because 3Dprinters have made everyone a have? How will we react when knowledge and education no longer separate the “successful” from the “unsuccessful” How will we react when gender, race, appearance, even species are no longer defined for us, but are a matter of choice?

How will we react to a world in which every CERTAINTY we have depended upon to build a pecking order NO LONGER EXISTS?

We are facing a future beyond our wildest imaginations, and there are so many other factors beyond these that are going to eradicate every limit we have previously used to define our place in the social order. We’re no longer going to be bound by anything. Jocks can be Geeks can be Beauty Queens can be Goth Freaks can be Anthropomorphs. Star Wars meets Twilight meets World of Warcraft meets anime meets furry convention.

Can you TRULY imagine a world in which every single dream and nightmare of the human mind will suddenly become reality? In which unicorns can walk down the street next to speeder bikes and Starfighters are flying through the air next to dragons? Can you truly imagine a world in which Succubi literally exist?

I can. I have. And I can’t wait.

But no, I’m not an optimist, my friends. I don’t think that most of humanity is ready for it, and I don't think most of us will cope with it that well at first. But ready or not, it’s coming on like a freight train with warp nacelles on full power. Long before we even come close to the “Singularity” our world is going to run headlong into Chaos in its purest form, as the human subconscious escapes into the real. We are truly entering an age of madness made manifest. I don’t doubt that we will survive it, and I don’t find myself the least bit concerned that humanity will adapt. It’s human nature after all. We are nothing if not survivors. We will eventually grow used to a world of unlimited choice and become accustomed to our newfound powers and new found abilities, and even to the possibilities we cannot even now imagine with our so very limited intelligences. We will even eventually grow used to being “Post Human.”

But we’re not going to enjoy having to face our Demons of the ID.