Sex in the eHuman City

"Miranda was gone.
    She’d been his companion for almost fifty years. He thought it should be easy to let her go, but it wasn’t. It was every bit as hard as the last time a companion had Jumped. And before that—well, it was the same old story. The vow, 'Till death do us part' disappeared the day
humanity took a bite from the apple of immortality.
From eHuman Dawn
eHuman Dawn opens with a  breakup. Some might find that a strange way to begin a science fiction novel about the merging of man with machine to achieve everlasting life, but for me, it seemed the most natural, and important, place to begin. For at the heart of our humanity lies our sexuality. The opposite is true of machines--which rule the domain of logic and rationality. As science marches ever closer to bringing us together, I find myself wondering, where in this effort to stop death do we take a moment to consider birth? Or love? Or desire?

One of my previous blogs, In Defense of the Senses, touched on the idea that writing about love and attraction in a world without flesh wasn't always easy. I had to find a way to express desire without the beating heart, the sweating palms, or the steady insistence of our reproductive hormones. While writing the novel, I discovered that the issues of romance and sex went much further than figuring out how to fulfill our desires for one another in electronic bodies.

In a society where we've united with machines in order to live forever, sexuality itself becomes completely redefined.

Imagine a future, post-singularity world that hasn't completely abandoned the flesh, but instead some sort of implant that reverses aging has been invented. We can still have sex the good old fashioned way, but what does that mean if we live forever? At what age would we marry? Why would we marry? "Till death do us part" doesn't make much sense if we're never going to die. Given the fifty percent divorce rate in western societies, truly living together FOREVER is romantic for some, but torture for others.

More importantly, would we continue to procreate in such a world? What would we do about population control? Imagine it, at age thirty we take an implant that allows us to live forever. That means no one dies. But if people continue to be born, how do we manage that as a society? What would the balance be for our species? How would we deal with an ever increasing population on our planet? I can't help but wonder what we'd do about children if we could live forever and keep our reproducing, carbon bodies. The possibilities are fascinating--and terrifying at the same time.

In the end, it's impossible to take on death without discussing birth and sexuality. Considering the sexual implications of any scientific advancement is worthwhile. Asking questions is the place to start. Would I trade physical sexual pleasure to live forever? Would I give up the ability to procreate in order to live forever? Would my feelings even matter if I could be programmed to forget them? When considering a future society where the ultimate goal for health is immortality, we shouldn't forget sex, love or romance. Yet I rarely see them mentioned on any of the singularity and technology websites focused on the topic of machine based immortality and health. 

Immortality brings a whole new element to the story of romance. One that will completely change the definition of what it means to be human. Perhaps love, in its universality, will adapt and evolve and find new ways of expression that we can only dream of now.

It's The Question That Drives Us

Like many sci-fi fans, one of my favorite movies of all time is, "The Matrix." There's a scene where Trinity, the beautiful hacker female, approaches Neo in a nightclub. This is the moment of invitation, an event that forces him to wake up to the world around him--a world where something just doesn't feel right. In many ways, stories are our real teachers, and the dialogue in this scene calls for us to wake up to the true purpose of learning in our modern age.

Trinity: It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
Neo: What is the Matrix?
Trinity: The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.

The writers of "The Matrix" advise us to ask the questions that are burning within our hearts. In Neo's case,  the question will lead him to the answer--which is something he cannot know until he voices the question. The two are intertwined, one leading to the other. Asking the question sets him off on the journey to finding the answer.

It's finals time here in my house, and that means spending hours studying with my children, memorizing, not the questions, but the answers. To tell the truth, I love this time, recalling facts I once learned long ago, being near my kids, and hearing the stories they have to tell about the historical figures, scientific theories and algebraic equations they've been learning. I'm always amazed at how deep the teachers go with their curriculum, and how little I would know about what went on in the classroom if I didn't take this time to study with my children. When we go over their study guides, they reveal details about discussions in the classroom and share with me their wonder and awe.

But if I only looked at their tests and homework, and never spent time discussing it with them, I'd assume that all they were learning was how to memorize facts--which seems pretty dry. Not only that, it seems fairly useless. In the days of the Smartphone and Google Search, why would my children need to memorize any date in history? Of course, knowing an approximate timeline or order of events is important--woe to the child who has no clue that Rome fell long before the advent of the computer. But is it necessary to spend brain power memorizing the exact date that the Vandals first sacked Rome?

Some may say yes, but I'd disagree. We don't have to wait for a future singularity event to realize that the days of knowing the "answer" are over. Tablets, Smartphones and the system of information that links them together, are changing the way we live in our world. In our house, if someone disagrees with another about a historical date, we let Google solve it. If my son wants to learn how to set up a "Let's Play" YouTube channel, he can Google it and find all sorts of people and information to aid him in his quest.

The fact is, knowing the "answer" isn't enough anymore. The intelligence we now need to cultivate is to know what questions need to be asked. And to develop the courage to ask them.

What is the question needed in any given situation? How do I ask the question in order to get the most accurate answer? How do I begin to understand the world as information all around me that is seeking to be known? How do I parse through the propaganda, to find the truth? For nothing is truly known on the Internet until the question is asked. Information is simply data stored on the Cloud, which has no meaning unless someone wants to use it. Asking the question puts the information in play.

How can we educate our children to ask questions? In reality, the educational system of the United States for the past fifty years has encouraged the exact opposite--Don't ask questions. Instead, listen to the teacher lecture, take notes, and memorize them. Questions slow things down. Questions get in the way. The authority already knows everything, you just need to receive the information. And then you'll be tested to make sure you got it all.

In today's age, to be spoon fed information isn't going to get our children very far. They need to be encouraged to ask for what they want to know. They must have a desire to understand and learn about the world around them. They need a fire lit inside of them, a passion, for asking questions. It's a vulnerable place to be, for to ask a question might make you seem ignorant. But the truth is, this is the direction our learning systems are going. As the Internet grows to mimic our own learning patterns, so will we begin to change in order to navigate this informational landscape.

Someday learning just may be a simple download. Like Trinity from the Matrix, we'll learn to fly a helicopter in moments. And yet, even in that extreme case, such learning cannot happen--unless we're confident enough ask the right question.

Which Side Are You On?

It’s a common thing to have to choose “sides.” In a world dead set on being binary, either/or, and exclusive, we all have to make decisions. Are you for the NSA spying on our personal internet experiences, or are you against? Is Edward Snowden a hero, or a monster traitor turned against his government? Do you think technology is good for us, or will it ruin our society, leaving nothing left in its trace?

Binary may be the language of the computer world, but human life isn’t binary. This is what differs our intelligence from artificial intelligence--we do not think or act in either/or. We romanticize that we are like machines, choosing logically in all conditions, but life isn’t black and white. We have colors such as gray, yellow, green, and brown, to name just a few. There are some behaviors that we can agree are entirely wrong, but most interactions in human life are complicated.

The internet may be a world of 1’s and 0’s, but human decision making is more quantum--one never knows where we’ll go or what we’ll do, given the circumstances at hand.

This week we learned from Snowden once more that the NSA is spying on us--this time within our gaming communities. World of Warcraft and Second Life have been infiltrated by the government. Phone records, banking statements and emails are personal, but what we reveal about ourselves when we play in these virtual realities is even more intimate. We form relationships online in these games. I once drove a thirteen year old boy home to his house who needed to arrive “on time” so he could gather with his friends from all over the world and fight a battle from the comfort of his bedroom. This is real to him, a place where he can be himself with others. Spying on gamers is a breech that borders breaking and entering.

As a result of these revelations, players from two major spheres of life came out this week to declare this state surveillance as unacceptable. First, Microsoft and Google formed a consortium with six other major tech firms to declare that laws be put in place to curb NSA actions. Then, the cultural community spoke out, with over 500 of the world’s leading authors doing the same.

Why is this important?

Of course each sphere has its own motivations. The tech giants fear orders on their services and products declining. Business wants the right to know everything we do so that they can make money off of us, but they don’t want the NSA surveillance to hurt their bottom line. As Falguni A. Sheth wrote in this week, business and the government have, “...the quintessential neoliberal environment: Corporations and the government converge to strip the focus away from rights so as to have better control over individuals. But at the moment that corporate profit is threatened, corporations no longer act in complete concert with the state, but rather “institutions” (the government and corporations) battle each other for control over consumers/citizens.”

This is obviously not a black or white relationship.

Enter in the third player--those who’ve been most successful in the cultural sphere of life are joining in the discussion. The fight for data privacy isn’t about business vs. government. It’s about our stories, music, arts and cultural life remaining in our control. We already know that after the age of massive corporate mergers, only a few companies now control entertainment in our nation. The Internet is the only remaining free channel for information to flow between people, without being spun. Yes, you have to mine the chaff from the wheat, but these authors are correct when they claim that state surveillance takes away from the freedom of creation. It’s a trespassing on the cultural commons of our humanity.

How this plays out will determine the future. In my novel, eHuman Dawn, big business leads the Great Shift, convincing the world to Jump into the eHuman form, in order to make a ton of money. Government goes along for the ride because a networked population is easily controlled. A win-win for both entities. In eHuman Dawn, the cultural sphere is destroyed, manipulated and controlled--completely in the hands of those who own the technology. This would be a terrible loss to our humanity.

Therefore I find it a good omen that the most successful authors and business leaders are taking a stand against the government. If this alliance remains, we might be able to create solid protection laws that make moving towards a singularity society safer for humanity.


Celebrating the Holidays...Forever

What an amazing month November turned out to be! As a contestant in the annual NaNoWriMo challenge, I found myself writing an entire, brand new novel, in only thirty days! Actually, it was less than thirty days because I needed to be done by the time my parents arrived on November 25th, for Thanksgiving. If there's one thing I can't do when others are around, it's write anything at all.

Even better, my novel eHuman Dawn, is now available to purchase on Amazon! It was published on November 27th, the same day I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. I've so many things to be thankful for, only one day of celebrating is simply not enough. Thank goodness the Holiday Season is upon us and I have until New Year's Day to party.

As I sat around the table with my family on Thanksgiving day, I wondered, as I often do--in an immortal world, where all humans lived forever at a global scale, what sort of holidays would be celebrated? If we could live forever, would we come back, year after year, to the same family? Would we hold on to parents, siblings, lovers and children in the same way? What would constitute a holiday? Most importantly, who would decide what our holidays would be?

In eHuman Dawn, I introduce the eHuman, a stunning technological feat of metal, plastics, circuits, fiber optics, energy transference and computing, as a new vehicle for human consciousness. Since the eHuman body does not age, and can be easily upgraded, living forever in such a body is considered the gift of health for all on Earth--whether you want it or not. In order to create their world, I had to consider the social habits of such a race. Would they still desire family connection? What would they be grateful for? Would there be a holiday season?

Celebrating holidays is as old as the human race. Even the American holiday season contains several holidays that have a long life to them. Colonists began celebrating Thanksgiving as early as 1565. Christmas is listed as an official holiday in Roman documentation dated 354 CE. Hanukkah is much older than that, celebrating a victory in 2 BCE. Winter Solstice festivals predate Stonehenge and honoring the New Year is as old as written texts, every civilization has their own way to enter into new contracts, obligations and opportunities at the end of their calendar year. Therefore celebration has a long, immortal history of its own.

And yet, these particular celebrations often center on the theme of life and death. We're grateful for this one life we live. The Christmas story, as well as all winter festivals of light, is one about light being born unto the darkness. The four seasons guided the ancients in their planting, mating and birthing rituals. Today we still honor them, as we can't escape the natural world around us. Each year, over and over, we witness the natural world around us birth, come to maturity, enter old age and then die with the seasons; just like our own humanity. The holidays we celebrate remind us of our destiny of birth and death. Which is why we celebrate them with those closest to us--the people who walk with us on this journey of life.

But what if we never died?
What meaning would the holidays take?
Whom would we wish to keep closest to us, when forever really is forever?   

While I can speak for eHumanity, and you'll have to read eHuman Dawn to enter their world, I can't speak for humanity as whole. I don't know what traditions would continue to exist. But my guess is an immortal humanity would have something else to celebrate than the wheel of life. Just what that is remains to be seen...


The Web of Life

    There is an old saying, so old in fact, that it's attributed to the ancient Egyptian mystics. It goes something like this, "As it is above, so it is below." Essentially, this statement points to a universal idiom that most modern people aren't  comfortable with: All things are linked together. What happens to me, happens to you. What happens to our families, is happening at a larger scale in our community. When one suffers, we all suffer, for all systems are woven together.

    In an HuffPost titled, "Your Brain is the Universe" by Deepak Chopra and several other modern day thinkers, put it this way,

"As is the smallest, so is the greatest has come full circle from ancient wisdom to modern science once we accept that every system is driven by feedback loops, homeostasis, and continuing self-organization. At this point, it is up to dissenters to prove that we aren't inhabiting a living universe, tied into it by the most fundamental characteristics of biological systems."

    It all comes down to one word: Interdependence. We're all linked, all one, bound by the web of life. This bothers the modern world, because everything from our healthcare to our economic system is based on the idea that we're separate, on our own, and in it for our own selfish needs. We've literally setup a thought system that traps us in our own cages, oblivious to the connections we share with the world, with each other and even with our own technological creations. We feel trapped, but essentially, the door to the prison of separation is wide open. We can walk out of the illusion anytime. The choice is up to us.

    One of my favorite modern thinkers, Charles Eisenstien, put it this way in his book Sacred Economics, "Having made nature into an adversary, or at best a pile of resources, it is no surprise that we manifest the same relationship of our bodies. The defining diseases of our time are the autoimmune diseases, the somatization of our self-other confusion. Just as the village, the forest, and the planet are inseparable parts of ourselves that we mistake as other, so our immune systems reject our own body tissues. What we do to the other, we do to ourselves, inescapably."

    Imagine it, as we cut out parts of nature in the name of progress, we get sicker as a people. When we destroy the land around us, we feel it in our very bodies, for these bodies are made from the same essence, the same set of elements. We are all one, tied together by the material building blocks of life.

    Much research has been dedicated to understanding this web of life. Our science, once set on compartmentalizing and individually naming everything in sight, has begun to see a bigger picture within our biology. Rather than running like a machine, nature operates more like a spider's web-when one strand is broken, the web starts to unravel. Our ecosystems are beginning to break down because we forgot this ancient truth that life is truly a web of interconnecting systems, each one dependent upon the other for survival.

    This web of life analogy isn't lost on me as I prepare to launch eHuman Dawn as an eBook, sending it out on the world wide web to readers that live all over the globe. Research for this novel, and the next two in the trilogy, has led me down many interdependent pathways. The physics of consciousness has revealed how interdependent molecules, waves and particles actually are. Researchers are beginning to postulate that our consciousness is woven throughout our bodies, having no central space to reside in, but rather existing in every cell, in ever piece of DNA, simultaneously talking to one another, sending data in an instant, to keep all parts of the body in synch. And when things aren't in synch, when some part of the glorious communication system shuts down, the illness is pretty obvious. We stop functioning in health.

    Does this elegant system of data transfer within the human body sound familiar? Does it mimic the world around us? Not just the natural world around us, but even our most powerful invention yet, the Internet, works this way. Data moves throughout the fiber optic network at the speed of light and travels across the globe to deliver information to millions simultaneously. There is no central place where the communication resides, rather devices by the millions embed themselves into the World Wide Web to share and receive data, perhaps not instantly, but quickly. There is nothing now we cannot know, for all data can be found, if only you ask the right question. It's no coincidence that we've given it the name World Wide Web. It's our creation, is it not? Therefore it lives and operates within our geometry.

    There's no denying it…the geometry of life, and data, is a web.

    When we use the World Wide Web and interact within its social structures, we might have the tendency to think we're alone, separated from the others by the iPhone in our hands, but in reality, we're not. What you use the Internet for affects me. What I do affects you. That we have some of the most beautiful ideas "floating" around out there alongside some of the most perverted, angry, and destructive impulses is natural. It's human nature to forget that we're all connected, and that everything we do is eventually revealed.

     But life systems seem to find a way of reminding us of our error.

     All forms of life tend towards abundance, and will create systems within its structure that expose secrets and lies. We call these the canaries in the coal mine. Nature gives warnings and hints when we've reached a place in the web of life that's broken and let's us know that the very fabric of that system is beginning to unravel. Though technically the Internet is not "life," it does have a life of its own and within the network, a system of checks and balances and a way to sound the alarm has come about.

Wikileaks is a perfect example of how all things on the internet can and will be exposed. Consider it a neural network not unlike our own, with its unique systems for monitoring health and wellness. We can call it evil and say our technology is separating our society and ruining us. Or we can see it as an organic system, created in the image and likeness of us. Our technology is as good, and as bad, as we are.

    Ecologists tell us that the plight of the polar bear just might be our plight. Using the axiom of "as above so below" the plight of the internet whistle blowers should also be of interest to us. Those who hack into the internet and make sure the web is functional, whole and clean, and report back to us when it's not, are essential to the health of the network. Their plight is our plight as well. They're the canaries in our technological coal mine. If we exterminate them, if we decide to make them criminals, then the consequences will be felt by all of us. They exist to guard the web of data that has become the fabric of modern society, just like organizations such as The Sierra Club exist to protect the natural web of life that provides us with our resources. The two are linked by the human mind.

    Nature created us in her image and likeness, and we created the internet in our image and likeness. Therefore it behooves humanity to protect them both, our data and our natural resources, so that we can live full, interdependent, human lives. After all, "as is above, so is below."

In Defense of the Senses


The human body is an amazing thing. Its design is incredible, a magnificent network of cells, neurons, organs and blood all orchestrating the greatest feat imaginable--Life. Living in the body is what makes the human experience real. Our bodies and our five senses allow our human consciousness to navigate life on Earth in all of its complexity. This life is so fantastic, we never want it to end. Which is why we're spending millions of dollars trying to find ways to the prolong our lives and perhaps even stop death.

In eHuman Dawn, I've created a world where one of the many potential singularity solutions has been implemented. In this case, humanity leaves their carbon based bodies completely behind in order to live in synthetic, humanoid forms. Think Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but with an actual human consciousness operating it. These forms are upright, and grant us much of the same mobility we have now. In fact, these bodies in many ways are better – the eHuman can run for days without rest, never needs to eat or drink, and can't die, at least not naturally. Sound far out there? Just check out the 2045 Initiative. This organization plans on having the ability to transfer the personality to an avatar by the year 2030, and into a hologram-inspired form by 2045. The year 2045 not too far off.

For many, the avatar, or the eHuman, is the perfect solution for life on Earth.

At least it seems that way at first.

Still, some people might want to keep their carbon bodies, where the five senses rule their daily existence, no matter what alternatives may exist.

Why would anyone wish such a thing? One of the most interesting parts about writing eHuman Dawn was the distinct lack of body responses that I could draw upon in writing any given scene. My main characters don't have carbon based bodies, therefore they lack the organs, skin, and sensations that produce reactions to normal life events. When an eHuman meets the girl of his dreams, he still feels the same emotions, but without the racing heart, butterflies in his stomach, or sweaty palms. Imagine fear. Can you experience a cold chill down your spine if you have no spine? Dry mouth? Goosebumps? Or even tears? And what would sex be like without the heat, the friction, the moisture, or the climax? I'm sure you've got the point.

Writing about such a world truly opened my eyes to the way my body talks to me, and to the numerous events in my life where I rely on my five senses to guide me. I've only touched on a few here, but I must admit, I'm a bit suspicious of life without these things. I love the smell of warm flesh, the thrill of my stomach turning as I fly down the hill on a roller coaster, the rush of blood through my veins before I try something dangerous. I enjoy the fluttering of my heart as I dance to a fantastic lead guitar solo. Just the act of moving my hips to the beat of the drums brings sensations of complete joy and satisfaction, and I feel this because my ears and skin are receiving the notes and my body responds by dancing.

Of course I wouldn't miss hunger, pain, or sadness. But part of me wonders if we turn off the annoying parts of life in the flesh, can we keep the joyous ones? Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety take drugs to help stop the painful feelings that trigger their episodes. Most of them complain that this also stops their ability to feel real happiness, sexual desire or excitement. It seems we need the dark to experience the light.

In the end I think the pursuit of immortality will lead society down many exciting paths. It's many, many decades away, but in the meantime I will continue to advocate for research and technology, as well as for the rights of consumers. And as I do, I will remain in this body, flirting, laughing, riding roller coasters, having sex and dancing until the natural end of my days!

Even if it does mean I'll shed a few tears.

Google Takes On Death

    I'm always drawn to the magazines at the check out line. Even though I'm supposed to be paying attention and unloading my cart, I find myself drifting from the effort needed to be a good customer and into the cover stories. From the trite Hollywood and political rag mags, to the few "news" periodicals and the occasional self help issue thrown in for good measure, I'm helpless to the call of the headlines.  So imagine how hard it was for me, a post-singularity sci-fi writer, to continue with my checkout line duties when Time Magazine asked, "Can Google Solve Death?" I almost answered out loud, "Really now. Is death something to be solved?" At that point the cashier asked me to please unload the rest of my cart. Before I complied with his request, I quickly pulled the September 30, 2013 edition from the rack and threw it in with the rest of my groceries.

    Devouring the well written and insightful article, I learned that Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google, is interested in solving the death element of the human story. He sees death as something that we ought to fix and figure out, and he's willing to shell out a ton of money investing in research that will bring us a new humanity – one where death's been forgotten and we’re free to live forever and ever, as ourselves. Which led me to ask first, "What might that self look like?"

    In a culture obsessed with the body, one can only imagine. No one wants to live forever in an old body, thus any aging solution that Google's new company, Calico, comes up with will need to be attractive. I mean, after all, if they're going to solve death, perhaps they can solve the whole getting old and gray thing first. And ridding humanity of the obesity epidemic might be nice as well. Living forever in a broken down body doesn't seem like much of a party to me. Thus Calico will have to focus much of their efforts in preserving and maintaining the perfect body, so that it lives in a state of health, without aging. That's the immortality of dreams and fantasies. (Note: The eHumans in my novel are only one of many potential paths that could be taken here.)

    But my next question was, "Why Google?" Why would the search engine giant pursue this particular effort? What do they have that will make their quest to solve death successful? And how will Google and their investors ever make any money from such a venture? Calico won't be the first company to pursue the fountain of youth; Much time, money and effort has already gone into this subject. Humanity has been obsessed with living forever since the dawn of time. But I have a few guesses as to why this company in particular might be interested in being the one to finally solve this elusive issue.

    Studies have recently suggested that aging is caused by a gene in our DNA. Perhaps research at Calico will take a look at this, and begin to compile the work that's already been done in this area. The Genome project revealed that human DNA is a huge, elegant data sequence, one in which only three percent has been decoded. The rest, called "junk,"  is essentially a data puzzle of enormous proportions. Could the de-activation of the aging gene possibly be uncovered in this jumble of "junk" DNA? Parsing such a vast amount of data requires an innovative search algorithm. Which is just the thing Google is known for, and is why it makes sense for the company to be the one to solve death. They alone have the ability to parse the data already documented on the subject. They've already designed the data algorithms necessary to sift, search and refine questions and queries.

    Google is also the leader in data acquisition, both their Gmail and Google Cloud businesses have millions of users. In addition, in 2003, they launched Google Books. This business eventually folded, due to litigation by publishers and authors, but the effort did manage to allow Google to collect a ton of older and out of print texts, where early research and opinions on death and dying may reside. To discover what the ancients believed, and where modern science intersects, just might bring us closer to discovering how to disable the aging gene within our very DNA.

    That would be one very exciting Google Search. A true gift of health to humanity.

    Yet there's another thing to consider in this discussion. What if the gene can't be disabled organically? What if the solution resides in a machine answer? Like an implant, something that prolongs life by secreting chemicals, or nanobots, into the bloodstream, at a rate specific for each human being. It could use personal health data and vital statistics stored on the implant to determine basic patient information such as blood pressure, DNA sequencing, and white blood cell count, to monitor the situation and make changes in the dosages as needed. This isn't out of Google's scope. The company has been interested in personal medical data for a while, launching Google Health in 2008. Interestingly, the effort failed, mostly because consumers didn't trust it.

    Hmm…I wonder, why didn't consumers trust their health records to be stored online?

    Let's consider the immortality implant again. What else could be stored in this life-enhancing device? What else could the device be used for? Such an implant would be very desirable to many, many people. So desirable that Google could find themselves with billions of users and thus become the owners of more data about humanity than ever before. The day we become devices on the network is the day that the network has humanity in the palm of its hand.

    The race then isn't about who will solve death first. The race is who will own the network, and the application that drives everyone to become a device on the network, first.

    Google as a company has been very clear that parsing their Gmail customer's emails is not a privacy violation. Their customers are data sets and agree to this when they sign on. If Calico discovers the perfect implant that overrides our very DNA in order to prolong our lives, who would turn that down? My guess is not too many. Most humans don't wish to die. That's a lot of potential customers, and a lot of data for Google to parse, use, and sell. It's this data that could make Google's investment in Calico worth pursuing.

    The question we must begin to consider is this – Is immortality worth becoming a data set?


    And if it isn't, if being nothing more than a data set is unsettling, then severing the ties with Google, or any company for that matter, after receiving an immortality implant won't be as easy as switching from Gmail to Hushmail, or using a different search engine on the web. Severing the ties in this way will mean removing the very implant that keeps you young and healthy, even at one hundred years old.

    Choosing to die is never an easy thing.

    And Big Business knows this. Which is why investing in technological singularity solutions looks very profitable indeed.

Somebody's Watching Me

I find it laughable and ironic that people who cheer on Edward Snowden, who freak out that 'someone is watching' them with every online purchase they make, even those Gmail users suing Google, are also engaging socially on the internet in very intimate ways. They post pictures of kids' first and Grammy's 100th birthday on Facebook and Instagram, but damn anyone who sees them without being invited! Our paranoia, as well as our full disclosure, seem to go hand in hand.

Thanks to Snowden, WikiLeaks, and the recent trial between Google and Gmail users, people are beginning to realize that when using the internet, ‘somebody’ is indeed watching them. For some, this news is met with terror. The idea that someone is watching every communication is humanity’s worst nightmare. It has Big Brother and 1984 written all over it. And yet this fear doesn’t stop many users from continuing to use the web as a confessional for their daily adventures. Which ironically leaves us in a strange social dilemma as human beings.

If we crave attention so badly we’re willing to post our anniversary pictures as well as our crimes on the internet so they can be seen, then why does it also bother us so much that Google, Yahoo, the NSA, and even NFL football players are watching, and noting, our actions?

The internet is private, but not in the way that most want their secrets to be private. No, it's private in the sense of being owned and operated by big businesses. Many different players have come together to bring the world this ‘free’ product. Their investment into the technological efforts of creating this wonderful thing called the internet wasn’t free. Billions were spent creating it. And every internet financier has an interest in how their product is used.

Thus, every keystroke is watched. It has to be, so that those who own the technology can cash in on their investment. Just because applications like Facebook, Snap Chat and Kik are free to use, doesn’t mean they're without cost. There’s an actual financial cost to building and maintaining the internet. And here’s the kicker, there’s also a cost to society for accepting this ‘free’ gift. Gmail may be free, but the cost is that the users are not considered customers; rather, they’re considered data sets. It’s the user’s electronic footprint that big business is endlessly parsing, analyzing and sharing with others.

What is it then about our electronic footprint that makes us so nervous when business giants and government officials desire to see it? Are we more real out there than we are in our hearts and minds? Are we ashamed of it? Are we invested in it? Why do we cringe when our data is used by others for profit?

Perhaps this gut reaction is more of an omen about the future than anything else. In reality, we know that anything we post online is public, at least to those who own the technology. We know that when we use the internet and all of its wonderful offerings, we're putting a part of ourselves out there, and by taking part in the game, forum, blog or post, we're exposing ourselves. But at this moment in time, we can choose what part of our selves we expose. Our online personality is ours to create, it doesn't even have to match who we are in reality. There is a buffer between the real me and the one Google knows.

For now…

But with the movement towards machine-based singularity solutions for humanity marching ever closer to reality, perhaps the real reason we cringe when Snowden releases more and more data about how we're being watched is because we know what's coming – that there's only a small step between what I chose to put online to reflect my personality, and becoming an online device myself, where all my thoughts, desires and needs will be known to those who know how to mine the data.

On their website, the creators of Kik have this to say about smartphones and the future, "We believe we’re at the beginning of the smartphone era – one of the most transformative changes of our generation, comparative to the rise of the first personal computer or the creation of the Internet. For the first time in history, we have a device that isn’t just a tool. Your smartphone is actually part of you: always on, always connected, and always with you. We see it as an implant. It just hasn’t been implanted yet."

Always on, always connected, and always with you. This is one of our potential futures, and we all know it's coming. In my novel, eHuman Dawn, I've attempted to create that world, and I’ve spent the past three years writing that story.

Trust me, there are a lot of great aspects to being an eHuman.

But there are also consequences when we allow those who own the technology to be a part of our minds – to be the ones who hold the keys to life or death.

Do our business leaders have our best interests in mind? Or will they have an even easier time marketing to us, perhaps being able to actually create a desire for their products within our minds with simple suggestions, like auto-correct works now? In such a world, how could we ever know whether what we thought or did on the network was truly ours?

Perhaps this is what's behind our paranoia and anger when we find out Google sells information mined from our email. Because we know what's coming, and we know deep down that perhaps our business leaders can't be fully trusted with our thoughts, desires and dreams – in essence our very being.

It all comes down to this: Will those who own the technology to use it for good? Forever? Because that's what machine-based immortality truly means.