Biohacking Love: Are We Among The Last Generations To Love Authentic Humans?
“Those who want to stay human can and those who want to evolve into something much more powerful with greater capabilities can. There is no way I want to stay a mere human. — “Captain Cyborg” Kevin Warwick.
The quote you can read above by biomedical engineer Kevin Warwick was in regards to the abilities humans will soon possess, that will enable us to cybernetically enhance our bodies to perform at levels we can barely yet imagine.
Within decades, our weird, mostly-hairless bipedal species will be able to craft devices that will be able to replace almost any organ in our bodies, that will perform better than the originals, and eventually cost little enough that they’ll be within reach of the average consumer. And frankly, the thought of a world where people can buy a bionic foot for themselves on Amazon that their roommate Kevin will be able install after watching a few holographic YouTube tutorials is a cool thought indeed.
Personally, I’ve said many times before to those close to me that once humanity is able to create a Deus Ex-like bionic arm, I’ll happily give up one of my fleshy-fingered limbs to be replaced — especially if they’re able to accessorise it with nano-blades just like Adam Jensen has, though I would be happy to settle for a stock standard model if I absolutely have to.
Although I’ve changed my views slightly over the last couple of years as I’ve learned to love the avatar of flesh I inhabit in this lifetime, and I no longer have such a burning desire to replace parts of my body (but seriously, it would be fucking cool), I am excited daily with the prospect of being alive to witness the incredible biotechnological changes that are on the horizon for our species.
All of this has been discussed ad nauseam by a multitude of thinkers, though there’s one part of our possible augmented existence in the future that hasn’t been deliberated extensively, and that’s how it will impact the way we love.
I’ll be the first to admit that biohacking and human enhancement aren’t often spoken about in relation to love, though it’s something I’ve put considerable thought into over of late. Though if I’m being completely honest, I’m being left with more questions than I have answers.
In a short few decades, us human beings will be able to adapt, enhance, or change almost everything about ourselves. From using gene-editing to alter physical and biological characteristics, to using advanced cosmetic surgery to change the shape of almost any body part, and even altering our brains to make us funnier, smarter, to learn a new language, or add the mastery of a new skill into our repertoire with a minimum of fuss — we’ll have achieved transcendence into quasi-gods, with abilities of creation only limited by an individual’s bank balance.
Sure, initially it will only be the über-rich who will be able to afford new luxuries like advanced brain-altering computing, or state-of-the-art cosmetic enhancements, but eventually it’ll trickle down to the rest of us turnip-tilling peons. And when it does, we’ll all be walking around saying shit like “Whoa dude, we’re living in the future!” to each other all the time, like stoners remarking every five minutes about how “like, totally” stoned they are.
Once bio-enhancement hits the mainstream, there’s no doubt it’s going to affect every facet of human life, including the way we love.
My years-long passion of optimising my biology has turned into a career, and as a professional biohacker who teaches others how to optimise their biology, it’s part my job to delve into upcoming advancements in this field that will likely change the very trajectory of human existence. However, despite all I know so far, I can only hazard the muddiest of guesses as to how these technologies are going to change the way we love.
But in any case, I’m going to try.
To start with, let’s use my partner Sorelle as an example.
I’m not going to do any justice whatsoever to how I feel about this woman with these infantile tappings on my keyboard, though I’m going to try and condense a few things about her here that make me feel giddier than a teenage schoolgirl with a crush.
I love her smile, her energetic ability to entertain me, her drive and dedication to the things she feels are important, her inner artist, the way she find my ridiculousness hilarious, the fact she’s the most interesting human being I’ve ever met, as well as all the mannerisms and minutiae that make up the creature that I fell in love with over three years ago. As anyone who has truly loved someone else will agree, it’s the facets of her so small that wouldn’t likely mean a thing to the average passer-by, that carry the most incomprehensible amount of meaning to me.
Some may argue that the things I love about her that are a result of her experiences in life are nothing more than dumb luck. That she’s simply a product of her environment. But to me, those traits, parts of her personality and inner fire have been earned.
Even though she’s in a constant state of metamorphosis, I value the things I love about her beyond measure. Because whether emotional, mental, spiritual, or characteristics of her personality, I know they’re things she’s earned via blood, sweat, tears, and the unhinged and unpredictable rollercoaster that is the human experience we all share during our time on this planet.
Through the things that only Sorelle has had to endure, she’s become who she is today, in all her imperfect — but at the same time very perfect — glory. It’s authentic. It’s genuine. She’s like her own Winged Victory of Samothrace, sculpted over time to be an individual piece of artwork made of thoughts, farts, feelings, laughter, and crazy morning hairdos, all made possible by her physical form of animated meat and life-giving red liquid.
But if I lived in an age where I could gene-edit my skin tone, intelligence, smile, ambition, skills, and everything else that makes me Leon, I’d constantly be wondering what kind of work everyone else around me may have had done to themselves.
So, what if Sorelle had received a brain implant that allowed her to load her competence as a photo or video artist into her brain in a microsecond? Or paid to have her body fat percentage lowered so she’d always have abs showing? Or received cognitive therapy to enhance her personality? Or had the Polish language instantly implanted into her brain? Or had her lower back augmented with dimples because she thought they were beautiful? Or bought an upgrade linking herself to an AI chatbot that would come up with deep conversations it knew I would respond well to?
Would I love her any less?
I guess that would be like asking a woman if she loves her husband less after he’d undergone a hair transplant. Or a man loving his wife less after she’d bought herself breast implants.
We humans are ever-changing beings, and you’re never really in love with the same person you fell in love with when you first met. In the case of Sorelle and I, we’ve evolved so much we’re hardly recognisable today from the people we were in 2015. So it’s not a stretch to imagine that if she altered herself after I fell in love with her, that I would very likely still love her after the fact.
However, if we lived in a world where these kinds of advanced mental, physical, and personality modifications were possible already, we may wonder if a person we were meeting for the first time was the way they are because of the experiences they’ve had throughout their decades on this Earth, or if they were the result of going shopping for the characteristics that they thought made them desirable to others.
I’ve often wondered if I’d met Sorelle for the first time in an age of biological perfection, where anything imaginable about a human could be bought, would I be constantly wondering what about her was real? Would I be questioning whether a trait of hers I loved was an augmentation for something she believed was a flaw? I can’t yet answer that question, but there are a few things that lead me to believe that myself or others may think that way, providing that situation did arise.
We’re already starting to see doubt creeping into the human psyche because of the way we date online, and through our use of social media. According to one study, humans as a whole are beginning to become more hesitant to believe what others put on social media or in their dating profiles. It’s believed that this is due to the fact we’ve been conditioned to put our best foot forward, and enhance how exciting, fulfilling, and beautiful our lives are, by only sharing the absolute best of our experiences and images, in the endless dedication to get those juicy likes and comments, and accompanying dopamine hits that are more addictive than MSG mixed with cocaine.
Modern people who date online are becoming less likely to believe that the initial impression we get from someone is accurate, because on some level we know almost nobody is going to put a photo of their mutant toenail up on Twitter, or in their Tinder bio. For the current generations who date, there’s always the sneaking suspicion that there is some evil skeleton lurking in the closet of your new prospective partner, like finding out later on in the relationship they like to kill and eat stray dogs, or that their favourite band is Nickelback.
(And in case you’re wondering, the big toenail on my left foot is all kinds of weird looking. It’s like the Quasimodo of big toenails).
So imagine how much worse that’s all going to get, when we have the god-like ability to modify absolutely everything about ourselves? Social media is already causing a host of mental and emotional issues in people who are comparing themselves to perfectly curated images in their feeds, which is only going to get worse when some people have the financial means to achieve intellectual and physical perfection, while others don’t.
We’re already messed up as a species, but the way we love is likely going to get weirder than the kinds of people you find in a strip club at 11AM, if we lose sight of the fundamental things that make loving a human experience.
But what if love becomes an experience that removes one of the humans from the equation completely?
There may come a point where physical intimacy with another human — save for maybe reproducing in the “old fashioned” way — will not even be required at all in our future societies.
When you consider that companies like Realdoll are already producing fairly lifelike reproductions of the male and female form — including models that can speak, and make relatively simple movements — and there are already men and women shunning human contact for these types of counterfeit lovers, we’re already on the path to single-person relationships.
Despite how rudimentary these silicone and plastic receptacles for man-milk are right now when compared to a human being, there isn’t a shadow of doubt in my mind that in the very near future, companies like Realdoll will look even more to robotics and advanced computing to allow these advanced sex aids interact with us just like a real human. We will come to a point where artificial companions will be almost indistinguishable from a being with human DNA, albeit without all the problematic emotions and flaws that all of us squishy hominids possess.
Regardless of your age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or any other kind of identifying metric that limits your pool of potential mates, science will soon be able to manufacture one that fits each of your desired exacting specifications. Similar to the way we can now go online and design a new car to our tastes in almost any imaginable configuration before stepping foot in a dealership, I envision an age where we’ll be able to go online and design our perfect partner in only a few clicks, before ordering with whatever future means of currency transfer is inevitably going to replace our physical plastic credit cards.
At that point, why would anyone in their right mind choose the real thing, when you could have a customised partner created to your particular specifications? Even better when you can change or modify that partner at a whim if you get bored, with no guilt whatsoever that you’re hurting anyone’s feelings. This perfect partner won’t leave stinking deposits or skidmarks in your toilet, won’t say inappropriate things while drunk at your parent’s Christmas party, won’t ever turn you down for sex, and will never tell you to work out more so you can have abs that would make Channing Tatum blush.
Soon, individuals will be faced with a choice that no generation of human beings have ever been faced with before. The choice of whether or not to date, love, cohabitate, or reproduce with a living, breathing human being, or choose the alternative of selecting an artificial partner to live out their lives with.
Human pair bonding may come to be an activity spoken about by future generations with fascination, wondering how us primitive creatures ever survived the process of evolution when we had to deal with a partner that could argue with us, become fat, do things that annoyed us, age, and eventually die. Why would anyone want that, when you have the possibility of owning an android that’s perfectly polished in every way, with firm tits, an ass immune to sagging, powered by AI that always says the right thing, who lets you eat fried chicken for dinner every night, and can project 1980’s action movies on your wall from its eyes?
But going back to the topic of love, despite how real a copy of a human may become in the future, will a person truly be able to love a machine?
I love my MacBook to a certain extent, because it allows me to do many things like book flights overseas, watch videos of cats wearing clothes on YouTube, and type these words you’re reading now. But I don’t really love it.
What I’m talking about is romantic, sexual, physical, and emotional love directed towards something you’ll be able to touch, grab, smell, caress, lick, fuck, and suck; something that feels and sounds like a real human, but underneath is no more soulful than your iPhone.
Will we be able to love such a thing? The answer for some people is probably yes.
What’s telling is that there are already those alive today who have expressed a desire to marry their love dolls, so there are surely those who will love a lifelike robot, once technology advances to make them indistinguishable from a squishy bone-and-sinew Homo Sapeins. But there’s an immense part of me that believes without the intangible stuff that make a real human a real human, I don’t think I’d ever be fully fulfilled.
Maybe I’m just being naïve when I express my desire to want to continue to hold, kiss, love, fuck, and experience all there is as a human soul in a magic meat golem, with another human soul in a magic meat golem. And maybe it’s just my few experiences with DMT talking, that have presented to me infinitesimally small glimpses into the divine soup that makes up each and every one of us, as well as the universe as a whole. The spiritual, soulful, incredibly paradoxical stuff that’s in a person, that will never be in a machine.
But for a lot of humanity in the future, if we can’t find perfection in each other, we’ll likely cease all need for romantic or sexual interaction with our own species in exchange for a custom-ordered companion made of processors and actuators. Because it will be easier.
But what about procreation, I hear you say? We’ll always need that. Without that part of the human experience, our race will never survive, right?
We already know that it’s unnecessary for sex or any other kind of intimacy as a means of reproduction, as it’s already been made obsolete via IVF. And as soon as we figure out how to make the archaic necessity of having a woman carry a child to term within her body — for example in some kind of growth pod or artificial womb — we won’t even need human interaction during pregnancy. Gene editing of a foetus will further distance ourselves from the natural process of reproduction, as parents select every trait their child will possess upon entering this world.
We’ve already seen this referenced in films like Demolition Man, where people must not only have a license to reproduce, but children are the result of a process involving a lab, and many men doing sterile things while in lab coats. Sex in the traditional sense isn’t a thing, and human reproduction has been reduced to something of a mathematical process. Definitely not my idea of procreation.
While this sounds alien to most of us, these are the realities of human reproduction that our species may face in the future, especially if the vast majority of the population has shunned courting and partnering with a real human, replacing that fundamental part of human existence with something that’s closer to shopping online.
I’m a big fan of sci fi, but even for me this potential theory for what may come of human breeding all sounds a bit too clinical.
If a child is ever in my future, I want it to be made out of my own semen and my partner’s eggs, via the ancient process of thrusting, sweating, and moaning. And when that child is eighteen, I’ll be sure to show them this exact paragraph on their birthday in front of their friends, to ensure their entry into adulthood is accompanied by the kind of embarrassment that only a parent can provide.
Anyway, I digress.
So to get back to the question at hand, will we be the one of the last generations to love authentic humans?
It won’t be long — a generation, maybe two or three maximum — until gene editing and augmentation become the norm, meaning we may well be on the cusp of being some of the last humans to be able to experience love the way we do now. With natural, unaugmented people, who’ve earned all that’s special about them.
Sure, we’ve already begun to augment ourselves. And sure, there are people who love people with breast implants, purple hair, and tattoos, but you can’t draw a comparison in those cases. Those are just real humans that have been tweaked slightly, not had their entire body or mind changed in the pursuit of perfection. What’s to come is going to be in an entirely different realm when compared to the prehistoric augmentation we conduct on ourselves today.
You could probably argue we’re already past the tipping point, and the way we love in the digital age is already far removed from the way we once did. And if you did argue that, you’d probably be right.
But in the near future, through technology, biohacking, gene editing, cybernetics, and lovebots, things are only going to get weirder than watching a David Lynch movie while on acid.
So love like this while you can. You may be one of the last generations of our species who is able to do it the way the gods intended.