I've heard this story before. Someone who lived in 1922 would be absolutely disgusted if they were given the chance to live in 2022 one day. A hundred years may seem like a long time, but in human history they mean almost nothing. I imagine a 1922 transplant would be horrified by self-driving cars, freaked out by VR porn, and fed the weather by Alexa, all pretty standard aspects of life today. After all, he was getting used to the radio, bandages and frozen food – he didn't even watch TV! How will the next 100 years change our experience of life?
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Everything shows that the transformations of the coming decades will be extraordinary. Major innovations like gene editing, brain-computer interfaces, and artificial wombs (not to mention advances in sex technology) will have a profound impact on human intimacy.
Consider CRISPR. Thanks to this unusual biotechnology, scientists can change genes and literally turn them on or off. Although the goals of this technology include treating deafness and cancer, scientists and bioethicists know that we will eventually be able to engineer the human genetic code. This means that we will not only treat diseases through gene editing, but also genetically enhance people. We are likely to wrestle with the moral merits of making our children taller throughout our lives and perhaps increasing the chances of fathering our children with the possibility that they will be born with higher IQs, normal abilities or unusual math. In fact, even the creator of CRISPR himself admits that these "creative children" may be "inevitable". Ethical challenges are inevitable.
But this ability to genetically improve comes with other amazing technological advances. Consider integrating brain-computer communication or human biology with electronic capabilities and/or smart technologies. Now conceived for the treatment of physical and neurological disabilities, the options here go beyond medical treatment. Augmented humans can take our physical and sensory abilities to levels known only to a few animal species: for example the speed of a cougar or the sight of an owl. If that sounds surreal, check out a video of a monkey playing a video game with its head in Elon Musk's Neuralink lab.
Advances in fertility technology are less surprising. Dutch scientists announce that their artificial womb will give birth to human embryos in less than a decade. Researchers are working to literally create eggs and sperm from human stem cells. If this succeeds, man will not be limited in the number of eggs and sperm, but will be able to produce as many genetic offspring as he wants. Since a stem cell could theoretically produce eggs or sperm, reproduction would not be limited by sex. These concepts may seem wild, but I can assure you that the scientific community takes them very seriously.
As a sex therapist, I wonder. Will CRISPR technology and brain-computer interaction change what people want in romantic partners? Maybe those of us who haven't improved become apathetic and stale. And as sex technology becomes more efficient, human-promoted sex partners can feel stressed; Everyone knows that romantic relationships require work and energy that we often don't have. The energy that sex technology does not require from us.
What does all this mean for human intimacy? Really, it's anyone's guess. But one thing is for sure, it will be spectacular. I started this blog to explore how increasingly advanced sex technology affects human intimacy. But the question I find most interesting is how will the combined effects of sex technology and other advanced technologies affect the future of humanity?
It is time to take these assumptions seriously and move forward with this discussion. Looking at and discussing these options will certainly help our descendants reap the benefits of advertising to mitigate the inherent risks in the future.
Among the things I do not doubt is that we are ready to create a new intimate relationship.