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.

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