What will your next body be like?

Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. To such an extent that it will thereafter be possible (albeit expensive for some years) to arrange that most of your mind – your thinking, memories, even sensations and emotions, could reside mainly in the machine world. Some (perhaps some memories that are rarely remembered for example) may not be suited to such external accessibility, but the majority should be.

The main aim of this research area is to design electronic solutions to immortality. But actually, that is only one application, and I have discussed electronic immortality a few times now :

http://timeguide.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/how-to-live-forever/

http://timeguide.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/increasing-longevity-and-electronic-immortality-3bn-people-to-live-forever/

What I want to focus on this time is that you don’t have to die to benefit. If your mind is so well connected, you could inhabit a new body, without having to vacate your existing one. Furthermore, there really isn’t much to stop you getting a new body, using that, and dumping your old one in a life support system. You won’t do that, but you could. Either way, you could get a new body or an extra one, and as I asked in passing in my last blog, what will your new body look like?

Firstly, why would you want to do this? Well, you might be old, suffering the drawbacks of ageing, not as mobile and agile as you want to be, you might be young, but not as pretty or fit as you want to be, or maybe you would prefer to be someone else, like your favourite celebrity, a top sports hero, or maybe you’d prefer to be a different gender perhaps? Or maybe you just generally feel you’d like to have the chance to start over, do it differently. Maybe you want to explore a different lifestyle, or maybe it is a way of expressing your artistic streak. So, with all these reasons and more, there will be plenty of demand for wanting a new body and a potentially new life.

Options

Lets explore some of the options. Don’t be too channelled by assuming you even have to be human. There is a huge range of potential here, but some restrictions will be necessary too. Lots of things will be possible, but not permissible.

Firstly, tastes will vary a lot. People may want their body to look professional for career reasons, others will prefer sexy, others sporty. Most people will only have one at a time, so will choose it carefully. A bit like buying a house. But not everyone will be conservative.

Just like buying a house, some rich people will want to own several for different circumstances, and many others would want several but can’t afford it, so there could be a rental market. But as I will argue shortly, you probably won’t be allowed to use too many at the same time, so that means we will need some form of storage, and ethics dictates that the ‘spare’ bodies mustn’t be ‘alive’ or conscious. There are lots of ways to do this. Using a detachable brain is one, or not to put a brain in at all, using empty immobile husks that are switched on and then linked to your remote mind in the cloud to become alive. This sounds preferable to me. Most likely they would be inorganic. I don’t think it will be ethically acceptable to grow cloned bodies in some sort of farm and remove their brains, so using some sort of android is probably best all round.

So, although you can do a lot with biotech, and there are some options there, I do think that most replacement bodies, if not all, will be androids using synthetic materials and AI’s, not biological bodies.

As for materials, it is already possible to buy lifelike full sized dolls, but the materials will continue to improve, as will robotics. You could look how you want to look, and your new body would be as youthful, strong, and flexible as you want or need it to be.

Now that we’re in that very broad android/robot creativity space, you could be any species, fantasy character, alien, robot, android or pretty much any imaginary form that could be fabricated. You could be any size or shape from a bacterium to an avatar for an AI spaceship (such as Rommy’s avatar in Andromeda, or Edi in Mass Effect. Noteworthy of course is that both Rommy and Edi felt compelled to get bodies too, so that they could maximise their usefuleness, even though they were both useful in their pure AI form.)

You could be any age. It might be very difficult to make a body that can grow, so you might need a succession of bodies if you want to start off as a child again. Already, warning bells are ringing in my head and I realise that we will need to restrict options and police things. Do we really want to allow adults people to assume the bodies of children, with all the obvious paedophilic dangers that would bring? Probably not, and I suspect this will be one of the first regulations restricting choice. You could become young again, but the law will make it so your appearance must remain adult. For the same obvious reasons, you wouldn’t be allowed to become something like a teddy bear or doll or any other form that would provide easy access to children.

You could be any gender. I wrote about future gender potential recently in:

http://timeguide.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/the-future-of-gender/

There will be lots of genders and sexuality variations in that time frame.  Getting a new or an extra body with a different gender will obviously appeal to people with transgender desires, but it might go further and appeal to those who want a body of each sex too. Why not? You can be perfectly comfortable with your sexuality in your existing gender, but  still choose a different gender for your new body. If you can have a body in each gender, many people will want to. You may not be restricted to one or two bodies, so you might buy several bodies of different ages, genders, races and appearances. You could have a whole village of variants of you. Again, obvious restrictions loom large. Regulation would not allow people, however rich or powerful, to have huge numbers of bodies running around at the same time. The environmental, social, political and military impacts would get too large. I can’t say what the limits will be, but there will certainly be limits. But within those limits, you could have a lot of flexibility, and fun.

You could be any species. An alien, or an elf, or a dog. Technology can do most shapes and as for how it might feel, noone knows how elves or dogs or aliens feel anyway, so you have a clean slate to work with, customising till you are satisfied that what you create matches your desire. But again, should elves be allowed to interbreed with people, or aliens? Or dogs? The technology is exciting, but it does create a whole new genre of ethical, regulatory and policing problems too. But then again, we need to create new jobs anyway.

Other restrictions on relationships might spring up. If you have two or more bodies, will they be allowed to have sex with each other, marry, adopt kids, or be both parents of your own kids. Bear in mind cloning may well be legal by then and artificial wombs may even exist, so being both parents of your own cloned offspring is possible. If they do have sex, you will be connected into both bodies, so will control and experience both sides. It is worth noting here that you will also be able to link into other people’s nervous systems using similar technology, so the idea of experiencing the ‘other’ side of a sex act will not be unique to using your own bodies.

What about being a superhero? You could do that too, within legal limits, and of course those stretch a bit for police and military roles. Adding extra senses and capabilities is easy if your mind is connected to an entire network of sensors, processors and actuators. Remember, the body you use is just an android so if your superheroing activity gets you killed, it is just a temporary inconvenience. Claim on insurance or expenses and buy a new body for the next performance.

In this future world, you may think it would be hard to juggle mindsets between different bodies, but today’s computer games give us some insight. Many people take on roles every day, as aliens, wizards or any fantasy in their computer gaming. They still achieve sanity in their main life, showing that it is almost certainly possible to safely juggle multiple bodies with their distinct roles and appearances too. The human mind is pretty versatile, and a healthy adult mind is also very robust. With future AI assistance and monitoring it should be even safer. So it ought to be safe to explore and have fun in a world where you can use a different body at will, maybe for an hour or maybe for a lifetime, and even inhabit a few at once.

So, again, what will your next body look like?

27 responses to “What will your next body be like?

  1. this has all been said before… Why not

  2. This is the most disturbing article to read….

  3. I feel that there are some major problems with this line of thinking,, mainly the resistance these types of technology will receive from the general public.When discussing trans-humanism with people who are unfamiliar with the concept I have experienced a general reaction of disgust from most of them.If and when we do reach the capabilities discussed in this article the amount of regulation needed, and differing opinions on that regulation, will be vast. In my opinion being able to inhabit multiple bodies, at the same time or individually, is fraught will problems from the perspective of identity. Not for the individuals sake but for the sake of everyone that individual comes into contact with. Even today, with people having multiple identities on the internet, we are seeing problems with fraud and misrepresentation. Just imagine what someone could do if they could change there actual identity at will. .

    • I fully agree. I perhaps should have addressed that in the blog but thanks for raising it. I have had people say they’d kill me if I tried to do this sort of thing, rather than accept it. I think they are just making a protest of principle, and am not worried about actual death threats yet. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t expect a nice easy social acceptance of transhumanist activities and I guess this is included in that basket. There will have to be a lot of social and political debate well in advance of the technology becoming feasible, but I really don’t think we have good leaders right now. We may get some in time, but if we enter this future age with today’s leader quality, it doesn’t look good.

  4. I actually do not agree AT ALL that it is unethical to clone replacement parts, replacement bodies or entire individuals. And I think that as time moves on and new technology shows its worth, attitudes will change.

    When you look at it, those things that seem horrid and unimaginable to us today, fade in the light of day. Rather than say that it will be unethical “some time to come” dare to have the debate.

    Focusing on the fact that people never need die is a good thing. Having the debate and funding this eventuality only helps move us faster in that direction. Be suspicious of people telling you no in this regard. Where they will deny it to you, they will help themselves or their pals to it when it appears.

    We need this technology. We must have it. There is no other consideration worthy or nearly as worthy. We must move forward and do it together.

  5. Actually, trans-humanism, if that’s what you call it is here, already. As we fit the Iraq and Afghan combat veterans with artificial limbs and exo-skeletons and begin to connect them to the nervous system, we have as society taken the first baby step to human-machine evolution. To me, the question is how human consciousness is protected when it is uploaded to the “cloud”, not what form or forms it takes on Earth or off-Earth.

  6. Hm…I think that virtual reality interactions will be more important than the real life robotic ones. They have far less limitations and are cheaper.

  7. Even if I do agree with the possibilities that humans will have, I do not think that would happen in real, material life.
    If in 2050 robotics will be so advanced to build a body the shape you want, and remote communication technology and cloud mind uploading could permit to control that inorganic body, that means that computing and virtual reality would permit you to experience the feeling of a growing human body (with your adult mind), or any other shape or species or mixed patchwork you can think of.
    Robots will be used to keep contact with reality and continue to harvest energy and prevent danger who could damage the virtual world where our new evolution will take place

    That is the way I like to imagine our future.

  8. i have imagined in my utopian novel at http://www.bookrix.com/_title-en-andreas-buechel-as-mayloveheal-ascende-maima-perma-and-mary-the-lifeship-1 how several types of bodies connected to one individual … could relate and exchange… as far as i can understand every change in environment and habits, intake of food and air, what clothes one wears and with whom one spends time together, it all forms the individuals thoughts and emotions and in case of a cellular body also the body … and then … every machine is in different condition after this or that style of driving, activities…

  9. stanleyalexander

    Transhumanist ideas will seem outlandish, and yes, offensive to some initially, but as Albert Slap said above, the era is here already. It blows my mind how many people actually think we’ll be able to prevent things like this from happening. Like Nebby1989, I’ve received quite a bit of negative reactions when I talk about transhumanism. It’s all based on fear of the unknown, and it doesn’t matter anyway. THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Evolution is bigger than us; moving beyond biology is its next natural step.

  10. When there is a technology for mind-uploading to the cloud, very few would choose to have physical bodies. The future will be mostly virtual.

    Today I run four OpenSim regions on my old desktop and I have acres of space, thousands of trees, a floating palace and quite a few other delightful things, all set in a beautiful tropical archipelago. I have multiple avatars too. And this is just my private dwelling. OpenSim, like Second Life, allows you to visit other people’s islands and public areas too.

    If I could have all this full-immersion and in full resolution, why would I want to have a physical android body? Especially if it would cost a fortune, and be subject to regulations.

    As for swapping avatars, when I was a volunteer at a Help Island in Second Life I would demonstrate the possibilities by transforming myself into a dragon, werewolf, male noob, gryphon, female noob, and a Barbie-like model all in a few minutes.

    On the other hand, before the mind-uploading becomes a reality, synthetic android bodies is the next best thing.

    Regarding the general public being alarmed, I believe there is no issue here. Hundreds of millions play computer games today, and of course, they would like to have a better interface than a keyboard, mouse, joystick etc. We already have devices capable of interacting with computer by thought.

    How many of the gamers do not dream of having a full-immersion experience? How many programmers do not dream of being able to write lines of code while lying in bed with eyes closed, and then testing them, all without having to get up and boot a computer, fire up SDK etc?

    Personally, I do wake up in the middle of the night and think I can write a line like this or like that, or inspiration happens when I ride down an escalator, or walk down a street etc, but alas I cannot write it down and test it here and then.

    Mind-machine interface is a pre-requisite for full-immersion virtual reality, and eventually mind-uploading, and it will probably first arrive in video games. And what a boost to productivity it would bring in all areas of life! I cannot imagine the business world resisting it, quite the contrary. Think of the ability to type emails, legal documents, do accounts, and send invoices in your mind, without the need for monitor, chair, desk, office… What immense savings would that bring! What a boost to profits.

    Of course, well before 2050 all labour would be done by robots and AI, and we all will be on eternal vacation, but shhh… let’s not tell anyone… less the “general public” becomes alarmed.

  11. More crap… some people can’t wait to be medically joined to their mobile computing devices. After hundreds of years of scientific advances one would think a future would be one of less work and more focus on enabling humans to enjoy the arts and “smell the roses”. Ian makes his living predicting this stuff and speaking on it, and that bias has clouded all of his work.

  12. Agree a lot can be done virtually, but I don’t see virtual v real as a conflict, more likely we’ll do both. I would want both virtual and real, multiple if given a choice.

    Pirate, I don’t have any big issues with organ cloning, I personally draw the ethical line when we grow conscious bodies for replacements. But you’re right that attitudes can and do change over time and it won’t be me writing the rules.

    Yeah, we have some people out there already with assorted implants, but the big transhumanist issues don’t really arise for a decade or two. Even the basic stuff we can do now is already causing arguments. Look at the rows around the relative advantages conveyed by disability equipment in the Paralympics.

    Certainly true that a lot of people want transhumanist upgrades, but also true that a lot don’t want to be forced to choose between transhuman modification or falling behind. A lot want to protect human 1.0.

    As for enjoying the arts and roses, a lot of people use that as an example of a failed 60s futurist dream. However, if you only wanted the same standard of living as back then, you would probably only have to work a few hours a week and would have lots of free time. We choose to still work long hours because it lets us maintain a much higher standard of living than they had.

  13. If your readers (who are interested in this topic) haven’t heard of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, I’d recommend it. It deals with some of these issues from a psychological and cultural sense, plus it’s a ripping good yarn……

  14. Nobody has addressed the issue of nut-jobs accessing multiple incarnations and forms to wreak multiplied havoc. Witness recent events, and imagine sickos doing far more damage. Who will control or regulate access to the new technology? Can just anyone who has the money buy him/herself many new versions of him/her self? The legislation involved would be a mind-boggler, and lawyers will get even richer. It would be a bit more than fun and games. Just seeing the dark side, is all.

  15. Concerning the politics and policing of the boundless possibilities that are provided by this technology, while I agree that there would likely be laws prohibiting adults from assuming child-form androids, teddy bears, etc. for all the reasons I’m sure we fear, what about the revered phrase from the US Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

    Already in U.S. prisons, it’s considered inhumane to deny a transgendered person, and especially a transsexual person, from access to the necessities to live in their gender/sexual identification. I see that’s not too far a leap to how it might just as well be considered inhumane to prevent people from assuming the role of a child to re-experience life as only a child can.

    Of course, I fully understand and appreciate the implications and complications this would necessarily evoke. I’d like to see how society resolves this dilemma.

    • I think it would be wonderful to experience being a child again, but the imperative would surely have to be to protect actual children from those abusing the privilege to groom or abuse them. I don’t have a clue how to do that, but maybe someone can figure it out. Like you, I’d be interested to see how it all works out.

      As for transgender and transsexual issues, I imagine being able to get a totally new body with another gender would be a great breakthrough, and gender changing may well compete strongly with rejuvenation as the greatest market. I don’t doubt it will cause some vigorous debate on various fronts, but I don’t see any harm in gender change personally, assuming of course we’re talking about people with the mental robustness to cope. Gender changing using new bodies could be for lifestyle change, sport, holiday, trying new experience, sex play or even relaxation. I rather suspect that we’ll be well used to gender changing and virtual world role-playing in this time frame and it won’t be much of a problem. I wrote a fair bit about it on my gender blog, but I feel certain there is a great deal left that I haven’t covered yet.

  16. This generation will see the coming of the Lord. Forget 2050, the world will be in the millenium by then where Jesus will rule with a rod of iron according to scripture

  17. You said you think that “some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines.”

    Can you provide studies here that support that?

    • There are links in the blog above to some of my other pieces of relevance. There is a lot going on now out there. Google is good of course, but check out the 2045 project for starters.

  18. I’m wondering how human sensation will be simulated by artificial bodies. Having an artificial body without sensation will have very limited appeal I think because we’re more than a visual species. We’ll crave the full spectrum of experience that only touch and smell can provide in addition to the other senses. With that said, pheromones will also have to be simulated in artificial bodies. If we manage to create a sense of smell in artificial bodies, and we can’t replicate pheromones, then I have no doubt we’ll very quickly realize their importance in the sexual marketplace. I’ve never experienced what that’s like because I have a sense of smell, and as far as I know, no human has had a condition where he/she does not produce pheromones.

    LOL, as I’m writing that, it occurs to me that artificial pheromones, semen, saliva, blood, and even urine and feces may become “accessories” that people will have to purchase in order to play out the various sexual practices that include these, and sort of loaded up before going out for some play time; that is, unless these artificial bodies are designed to replicate these on their own, although I don’t know how. Perhaps there will be some kind of semi-solid concoction an artificial body could consume that could then be broken down into these different “commodities” by specialized units within the body? Otherwise, I see only 3 alternatives: 1) have “speciality item” shops where you can purchase these, 2) order them online to protect your privacy, or 3) have special fabrication units at home where these commodities can be produced from various raw materials.

    Speaking of that, and role playing, there are a lot of people who role play as vampires. Some of them don’t do any actual blood drinking -they just like showing of fangs, dressing a certain way, and non-lethally biting necks- but others do want to bite through flesh and drink blood -and some want to experience being the victims. There are other blood-letting and body-piercing fetishes that many people enjoy, and they want to enjoy them in young, beautiful bodies. So simulating blood flow, and sensation in such a way that does not endanger or cause lasting harm to people will be an engineering feat, but I have faith in human ingenuity to pull it off.

    After all, look at the special FX we already have in movies with graphic violence. I think the real feat will be how to simulate nocireceptors and endorphins with some kind of safety buffer to prevent deadly shock to the “driver body.”

    As I’m writing this, I wonder how many other dark fantasies people will want to carry out such as bare knuckle fighting, vivisection, murder, and rape, and even being beaten to a pulp or executed (all using artificial bodies). Will our laws around these still apply to artificial bodies? I suppose not if no actual harm is done to real, living persons. I suppose the only condition will be that people who want to commit such acts that cause any damage to the artificial body will have to pay for the amount of damage they may cause.

  19. Having mentioned all these nuances I have, it seems that perhaps genetic engineering that allows customized morphology, and regeneration, coupled with some sort of wireless brain/mind emergency back-up system would be the more preferred and feasible route.

    You mentioned the problem with brains and cloning, but what is the brain really before there are any experiences and memories? Is the brain just a glob of specialized cells that can be imprinted on, or is there really something inherent in the brain, or in the genes, that produces a “person?” If someone is using their own cells for cloning and genetic engineering, and the brain essentially just keeps the body alive as it waits for “programming” then it seems quite conceivable that we can download into clones.

  20. Peter, mankind has been saying exactly what you have since Jesus was crucified. Every generation has rationalized it through countless ways as I have no doubt that you’re doing. What makes you think you’ll be the 1 out of millions who was right? (that’s a rhetorical question). Both Matthew and Mark wrote:

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

    Perhaps this will help illuminate you:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2011/05/23/why-no-one-knows-the-day-or-hour-is-a-weak-argument/

    There are many great reasons to have a faith, but the particular faith you’re expressing is not just being unfaithful to God, but it’s also a coping mechanism for something that is troubling you in life, that only keeps you from living life to the fullest and rising to your full potential. You would be able to have a much more satisfying life if you confront whatever it is you’re coping for by getting professional psychology help. They say “ignorance is bliss” but I assure you that if you investigate this particular belief, and why you hold on to it, you will discover a life of happiness is available to you that’s beyond your imagination.

    I want to take this opportunity to make Peter’s comment relevant to Ian’s post. The majority of the world has a belief in an eternal paradise in the afterlife. Some also believe in an eternal hell, but that’s not what’s really relevant to this discussion and I’ll explain why.

    Ideas of an eternal paradise after life are all an expression of humanity’s dissatisfaction with elements in their current life, and ideals of the perfectly satisfying existence. Since they can’t imagine the possibility of it happening in their current life, their only outlet is to hope for a new life in a new world that is not “here.” Anyone with a reasonable education in psychology understands what that hope really is: a coping mechanism that reveals a lack of skills for adapting to the world as it is now.

    Beliefs like this are like medication for the dis-ease that they feel in life. And it’s just as addictive as any drug, interestingly, for the exact same reasons. Because beliefs have a neurochemical effect in the brain and body. Serotonin is the “I am safe and well” neurotransmitter, Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that gives us that feeling of aliveness and focus, Oxytocin is the neurotransmitter that gives us the sensation of love, and endorphins are the ones that make us feel pleasure. Together, in the right balance, these brain chemicals can provide us a sense of bliss and paradise.

    Our experience of life is essentially based on perception and sensation -that is, not just what happens, but how we *receive* what happens. There are many things that people are bothered by in life that don’t bother other people. The difference between them is how they cope. Many people feel that they already live in paradise. They are perfectly happy and content with themselves and their lives, and that’s not necessarily because the perceive perfection in the world, but because they are able to *accept* the world as it is. For some reason, this makes me think of the phrase “You can’t rape the willing.” Your experience of heaven or hell on earth is essentially based on how willing you are to accept and engage in what is happening from one moment to the next.

    So here we’re talking about how we may relatively soon have bodies that we find pleasing and satisfying -bodies that we find “perfect” so that we can experience a life in ways that we find more fitting to our desires, and that we’ll no longer be victims to the passage of time, so we can enjoy life by our terms as long as we desire. Isn’t that essentially what everyone’s concept of “Heaven” really is?

    Now some religious people may say something about God’s “plan” and the Second Coming, or how Man cannot create, but what about how the Bible says that God made Man in His image, and what if God’s “plan” isn’t a singular magnificent event, but an eternal series of events carried out by God’s creation: Man? If we’re made in the image of God, doesn’t that make us an extension of God? If God made the universe, then what else could the universe be made from, if nothing else existed before it, except God Himself? If you can follow that line of simple logic, then you cannot escape the inevitable conclusion that we, along with all Creation, are necessarily parts of God. Another way to think of it is we ARE God, just like the cells in your body is you, and the drops in the ocean are the ocean. There is nothing in scripture that necessarily tells us that we are the Hand of God, nor that we’re not. You have to figure it out through careful analysis of the various clues all around us throughout history and scripture.

    Now, in full disclosure, I was raised Christian, but I don’t identify with any particular religion. I’ve studied religions and mythology throughout history, and I’m a student of the late Joseph Campbell who was the world’s foremost authority on religion and mythology. I am both a philosopher and a scientist, and I consider myself spiritual, but not in any constricted sense. I live in a reality where anything is possible, yet I know the value of finding ways to accept and enjoy life as it is. I draw upon the wisdoms of many religions and spiritual philosophies, as well as the simple pragmatic facts of science. I see no reason why science and spirituality cannot co-exist or be mutually exclusive. I see no reason why our ever evolving intelligence, imagination, creativity, ingenuity, dreams and inventions, our love, wisdom, compassion, joy, and the entire cosmos are not God and/or part of God’s “Plan.” If God is the Master of all things, then how can anything that happens *not* be part of God’s “Plan?”

    For those like Peter who still struggle with accepting science and that the Rapture may not necessarily happen in their lifetime* I recommend a documentary called, “Flight from Death -the Quest for Immortality.”

    More thoughts that might satisfy the religious, if you believe that God loves you, then do you think God would disapprove of us creating a world that made us happier? Just like you love your children, and are pleased when you see them become their own person, intelligent, wise, loving, inventive, and especially able to provide for themselves and make themselves happy, don’t you think a loving Creator would derive the same joy by seeing us do the same? If you’ve ever had a child who won a competition and felt pride in both them and in yourself for having created such a remarkable, capable person, how can you believe that God would not feel the same to see us soar and overcome our limitations?

    That’s the impulse that conversations like artificial bodies, science, etc. arise from -the desire to overcome our limitations and soar. Now if there’s a God, why would He ever want to end that for us? Don’t you think God would be far more pleased if we “saved” ourselves instead of having to come to our rescue? If God is perfect, and we’re made in the image of that perfection, then perhaps it is our destiny to evolve into that perfection.

  21. Why would it necessarily have to take place in meat space, when cyber space could seem just as real as reality? But yes it will happen in any event, and we’ll be very, very smart. I’m reading ‘How to Create a Mind’ by Ray Kurzweil, what we’re doing today is already pretty mind blowing!

  22. Isn’t 2050 a bit far away? I’m expecting to get my first robot surrogate in or before 2040, and that’s allowing for time waiting on advancements that I’m looking for before going for it. I’m not requiring organ replacements or mind uploading though, so maybe that’s where the difference lies? There’s already been an experiment that successfully allowed someone to operate a robot surrogate via non-invasive BCI. Advancements in bionics are also advancements in robot surrogate technology, and bionics have a lot of people and funding to speed up research. There’s also a good amount of research into artificial organs, since many people are aware of the shortages of various transplant-candidate organs. The best part is that these fields are researched separately outside the context of surrogates, and combined, they can create surrogate robots that allow the brain to survive in an otherwise artificial body.

    I might need to hold off on getting the wings and tail, but I’ve already been making plans for a number of robot dragon surrogates for about two years now. The first would be roughly human-sized, but I also want a larger one for walking on all fours (and for mobile storage of my other surrogates) and a child-sized genderless one that I could use when I want to bring out my inner hatchling. I’m also interested in modular parts that use wireless data transfer to maintain a connection. As an example, I’d like to try throwing my own head like a football to record “headcam” footage and post it on Youtube. If I can get the wings and tail, I’ll have to record videos of myself in flight too. I’m not sure how many surrogates I could get up in the air, though, so it’ll probably be just one at a time. Any more sounds too complicated for one brain to handle.

    I don’t think that limiting people to adult surrogates would be where the laws and regulations go, but rather child surrogates wouldn’t be allowed to have functional reproductive systems. After all, what if a child needs a robot surrogate for some reason? Are you going to force them into an adult body? A complete lack of external sex organs would likely result in phantom limb syndrome for boys, so a law restricting that probably would see backlash from the medical community. But if I’m stuck noticing “that” missing, then it’s probably time to switch out of my hatchling dragon surrogate, right? (This is starting to make me feel uneasy, so I’m going to stop here.)

    I’d also like an organic dragon surrogate later on based on my primary dragon body, but that would be very far down the road, and for the singular purpose of conceiving a dragon child. That might not happen though, since by the time someone figures out what DNA sequence produces a dragon (minus a resident already in that home, unless I could arrange for some sort of mind-meld thing), I could probably become a parent using a robot surrogate instead. But I wonder if I’ll have nostalgic feelings for an organic body once mine fails and I outlive it. Maybe it won’t matter to me at that point.

    There’s one thing I’d want to ensure though. I’d want to look uniquely “me.” The body is the main source of identification used today, outside the use of passwords, and I wouldn’t recommend sharing a password with people as a means of identifying yourself to them. My body identity defines a lot about who I am too, so I should be allowed to have a final say on whether someone can look like me, and whether someone can look like the “me” I want my surrogates to look like. (My default answer is no, by the way.) That doesn’t mean that other couldn’t have dragon surrogates, or even share some of the defining physical features. But a certain level of differentiation would be needed, because we’re talking about my identity.

    Insurance might be a good idea though, since you never know what some crazy person might do. I’ll have to look into that. I think I also want to look into a number of software-based enhancements, like being able to record the last hour of my surrogate’s sensory experiences in case I need to go back and remind myself of something I hadn’t paid attention to. I have a terrible working memory, and I’d be likely to forget an external aid if I had to rely on one, so this would be the only foolproof option.

    Anyway, we’re already very far along with all of the things I’m looking for, except for the wings and tail. Tails are coming along nicely, but they aren’t quite as far along as I’d like. Wings are probably going to need special attention to make happen, unless I’m completely wrong about the level of interest there is in a pair of dragon wings. If I were to settle on a few matters, I could push my timetable forward a little more than “by 2040.”

    • Thanks for your comment.

      “I’m not requiring organ replacements or mind uploading though, so maybe that’s where the difference lies?” Yes, that is where the difference lies. You can get replacement parts for probably over 95% of the body by 2020. The brain is more of a problem. There are already experiments with virtual reality demonstrating that in the right circumstances you can convince your mind that you are in a robot body. Doing that brings timescales forwards too, but it isn’t there yet apart from a few minor experiments, so it would be 2025-2030 for even that in a proper commercial service and it falls far short of the full deal I think. Your dragons sound fun, but I’ve seen too many dragon movies to think you’d get away with doing it for real without a lot of public protest and regulation spoiling it. Uniqueness is an interesting problem. We don’t have it as humans, most of us have numerous lookalikes, but as a dragon, I guess you could add some extra features and register them as trademarks.

      • Actually, the degree of uniqueness I’d want to maintain is about the same level that humans have. Sure, there are lookalikes, but even twins have something that can tell them apart upon closer inspection. Still, I could see how twins could steal each others’ identity — so many of them do it to fool their parents during childhood — so maybe I’d have to get a greater degree of protection over that.

        Also, three-dimensional, holographic, or animated features can’t be trademarked. It has to be a still image in 2D. What I’m looking for is probably more appropriate under a combination of copyright and design patents. Design patents would offer greater protection for 14 years by not requiring that the reproduction be a copy of the original, but copyright would last my whole life, and then some. Copyright’s also cheaper to register, and automatic even if I don’t.

        I could add a trademarked logo to the inside of each modular part too, but that wouldn’t be suitable for uniquely branding my surrogates, since I’d have to use the logo in commerce to get trademark protection. I suppose I could start up a company later on to market modular dragon surrogates in a variety of shapes and sizes. I already know other people who want one, and those dragon movies are becoming more positive towards dragons than before.

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