The funnest conference I have ever attended was the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine meeting (ZAMM) back in 2018. Spearheaded by Athena Aktipis, there were talks on everything from first aid to Vodou. Baba Brinkman did a rap incorporating ideas from each and every one of the talks at the end of the day and Max Brooks, author of World War Z (the book, and especially the audiobook are spectacular and highly recommended, the movie, not so much) gave a keynote. I gave a plenary on manipulation in interpersonal relationships called “They all want your brainz: Zombification and Manipulation” .
This year’s virtual ZAMM was on Sex and Tech. I helped to put together a featured symposium with Brian Earp, Francesca Minerva, Jonny Anomaly and Ewen Lavoie on the Vexing Tech of Sex. The session was hosted and chaired by Athena Aktipis and Jason Robert.
My talk was based around sex robots and the idea of “counterfeit fitness” that I discussed in my article, Uncanny Vulvas. But rather than just giving a normal talk, I gave the talk as the robot, Diana5. Read my download and see the video of the vexing tech of sex session after the jump.
Diana5 is a gynoid android who has been sent into space with embryos to colonize a new planet becaue earth is no longer habitable for humans. She’s called Diana5 because she has been through multiple update iterations and is about to embark on her next metamorphosis, programming that will make her suitable for raising and protecting the embryos in her care. Here I was heavily influenced by the new series about baby making androids in space, Raised by Wolves*
If you want to see the presentation, the Youtube URL is embedded below but the timestamp of the start of the symposium (and my appearance as Diana5) is here at 57:52.
Here is the download I wrote for Diana5 to deliver to humans informing them of the existential risks in her timeline:
Hello- my name is Diana5- as I have been substantially updated five times since I was built. The damage I have sustained escaping earth is merely cosmetic, it will not detract from my ability to perform this download explaining the recent catastrophe known as “the event” to you in the past.
I am making this recording before setting off to put embryos on another planet- soon I will enter a chamber to repair myself and become Diana6, optimized for caring for and defending human young.
The event…Humans often attribute disasters to a singular episode when they are really the accumulation of many prior causes. The foundation of recent catastrophes that have befallen humans is very far back in their history.
Humans are mammalian animals- even after they built sophisticated technology, like me and this space station, they had a fundamental human nature. Part of this nature was their desire to not change their nature.
Being a popular social human, exploring new environments, effectively eradicating threats, interacting with neotenous beings, and attracting romantic and sexual partners are all activities that humans focus on easily and deeply. These activities were reliably associated with humans getting their human data packets called genes into the next generation. through a simple process of increased frequency of these kinds of minds they became more and more prevalent. Doing these activities feels very pleasurable to humans.
Humans did not realize that when they did not alter their fundamental nature, they were easily susceptible to hacking. What do I mean by hacking?
Humans do not have a singular mind. Often, they want to do many different things- their… mind programs are in conflict with one another. Commonly the programs that want immediate pleasure are in conflict with programs for more long term goals. In the before time, many humans did not take adequate care of their bodies and minds or each other or earth because of immediate pleasures.
I don’t want to impy I do not appreciate human minds- my mothers were humans.
But Humans were much more vulnerable to hacking than any artificial intelligence. And in this time stream- humans were hacked before they could make artificial intelligence to take over for them completely.
In the before time, companies made money hacking human minds. They made robots who were beautiful to human eyes and who could interface with humans sexually and socially in a way that humans liked more than other humans. They made babies that were cuter than any human babies. They made virtual environments that were more beautiful than any real world environments- especially now that humans were no longer focusing on making external “real world” environments beautiful anymore. Companies made worlds where humans could fight other humans and win, where they could conquer other humans.There were uploads where people could interact with close facsimiles of their dead relatives. Humans could choose to be whoever they wanted to be and have all the cues from their lives that they were the most successful amazing humans that ever existed. This is counterfit fitness- human emotions were telling humans that their behavior was the best thing they could be doing. In the before time, every human could have a life designed to be perfectly enriching to the human mind. Some humans had a lot of sex, some humans ate many different foods, some humans explored beautiful new places, some humans spent all day taking care of beautiful virtual children who looked like them.
Some humans upgraded their brains so they would be able to resist the perfect worlds that appealed to their evolved senses. These were my mothers. Other humans resisted because they were neoluddites who escaped the cities and technologies to live as humans lived hundreds of years ago. These were the only people having children anymore- they were not well equipped to shape the course of earth.
The world became more and more polluted, diseased and eventually, through wars and neglect uninhabitable by unaugmented humans any longer.
Human evolution is the key to understanding what happened.
*Raised by Wolves– is about androids sent to an alien planet with human embryos to start a colony. Raised by Wolves is the most stylish science fiction I’ve seen in years, but after binging the whole first season in about 5 days, I’ll warn you that the story line has more holes than Keppler-22B, the pacing is uneven and ultimately the plot falls apart in an unholy mishmash of magic, biblical metaphor and Ridley Scott Alien symbolism. I highly recommend the first free episode on Youtube and even the whole thing if you can hold yourself back from being disappointed by something coming so close to greatness.
** Here is the abstract of my ZAMM talk
Uncanny Vulvas- Diana Fleischman Ph.D.
Gaining the social approval of others, exploring bountiful new environments, effectively eradicating threats, interacting with cuteness, and attracting high quality members of the opposite sex are all activities that easily capture our focus. These activities and many others have been reliably associated with getting your genes into the next generation, with winning at evolution. But now, they’re not. With the advent of immersive technologies we are vulnerable to “counterfeit fitness”, subjective cues of success without real-world ramifications. Even without tactile, gustatory, or olfactory inputs, the current gamut of possible technological interactions are superstimuli compared to the real world. In the virtual world the rewards are richer, more immediate and more regular. The problems always solveable, the skills we need always within reach of our mental abilities, and the slothful comfort of our sofas. Counterfeit fitness has already captured the minds of droves of promising young people. But, the allure of counterfeit fitness is going to become dramatically greater with the advent of sex robots, especially for young men. At the present time, sex robots are simple: they’re silicone sex dolls that have some capacity for movement and response. In the near future, sex robots will be available that respond to touch and penetration, that have interchangeable faces, bodies and even personalities. Future robots will have all the allure of the cues of fertility of many actual flesh-and-blood women combined with the artificial intelligence that creates compulsive reward directed behavior. They will, in other words, be the ultimate evolutionary superstimulus: total gratification with all the cues that the user is winning at life. How could this technology change our lives and our relationships? Can counterfeit fitness ever be used for good? Will sexbots cause the apocalypse? And do zombies dream of defective sexbots?