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Sexuality

(Note: In the text version below, I summarize what I said in the video. It is not a transscript.)

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Have you ever enjoyed a movie that made you cry? Have you ever screamed in a roller-coaster, and then wanted to go there again? Well, people often enjoy things that might not seem very enjoyable. For example, some people enjoy being controlled, humiliated or whipped… but only if it’s done by the right person, in the right way and in the right context. This is often called “BDSM”.

As I’m writing this, my twitterfeed and other newssources has exploded with outrage over a Daily Beast and Jezebel text called “Spanking for Jesus”. This text attacks a subculture called “Christian Domestic Discipline”. However, their primary evidence turned out to be fake. So this subculture may or may not even exist.

BDSM need to be gender neutral, and neutral to religion: Pushing or manipulating someone into doing BDSM very easily become abusive or otherwise destructive, and it is therefore not okay. If you ever feel that you *must* be dominant or submissive because of your gender or religion, there’s a big risk that you will push yourself or others into situations where at least one of you get hurt.

The daily Beast and Jezebel article could have been about this. It wasn’t. It was a load of paraphobia – prejudice and bigotry against sexual minorities, in this case sadomasochists. Sensationalism designed to take people who enjoy getting spanked and make them look crazy.

Both articles put their emphasis on a couple called Chelsea and Clint. Daily Beast attacks them on a personal level, while Jezebel attack a book they have written and self-published online. Both articles are trying to convince the entire world that this couple are evil crazy Christians. However, the book doesn’t support these claims at all.

In spite of being presented by Jezebel as the primary evidence for these two individuals (and by guilt by association, anyone else who might like spanking) being “fucked up”, the book doesn’t even mention gender or religion. It instead puts emphasis on consent, that you shouldn’t get into any of that kind of stuff unless you really want to.

After following the link from Jezebel, I have now read much of the book. Skimmed the rest, and searched for a lot of keywords. As far as I can tell, the book is equally useful for gay couples as for straight couples. It is equally useful for heterosexual couples who want the woman to have the dominant role as it is for couples who want the man to have that role. And it is equally useful for atheists as it is for Christians. There is nothing in that book that suggests that a christian woman ought to be submissive, or any oppressive bullshit like that. And I didn’t see anything like that on their site either.

Are Chelsea and Clint even Christians? I don’t know, I don’t care. It should be okay for Christian couples to enjoy domination dynamics, if they are into that sort of thing. What should NOT be okay is to pressure or manipulate anyone to participate. It is not okay to send the message that men and women SHOULD be dominant and submissive, respectively. These articles attack Chelsea and Clint without any evidence that they have spread any such message – on the contrary, the evidence points in the opposite direction.

What Chelsea and Clint are talking about is “Domestic Discipline”. Not “Christian Domestic Discipline”. Jezebel points to a yahoo group that looks rather creepy, at least the way Jezebel present it – it should however be noted that the most damaging part of the presentation is not part of the actual quote, but instead added by Jezebel. And that they don’t even claim that Chelsea and Clint are members: They merely imply this by context.

The Domestic Discipline Chelsea and Clint present in their book seem to be what most people would call a specific form of BDSM. They claim that it is not BDSM, and that is true in the sense that it is not those other things that ALSO are BDSM. Domestic Discipline is about domination dynamics in long-term relationships. Not about games in the bedroom or about playing around with strangers. They seem to think that the concept of BDSM is limited to such games. Which in some local subcultures may very well be the case, although it’s not true in general.

In 2009, I was asked to write a series of articles at the blog More Inches. This series is about the argument made my radical feminist Melissa Farley as she condemns the sexual minority often referred to as sadomasochists or BDSM:ers. As I now republish this series on my own blog, I keep the division into three parts. These are Totalitarian Categorism in Radical Feminism, The Strawman Sadomasochist and Sadomasochism versus Radical Feminist dogma.

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If Farley had openly accused sadomasochists of not conforming to the dogmas of her particular brand of radical feminism, then she had been correct. But this is not what she is doing. Instead, she’s exploiting mainstream society’s contempt for BDSM in an attempt to establish her very special discourse as if it was a objective reality or consensus viewpoint. She’s establishing a world view where society itself is “sadomasochistic” and where her own brand of radicalism is the ONLY valid resistance against mainstream society. Lets take a look at the remaining four points.

2. Sadomasochism is love and trust, not domination and annihilation.

Good relationships, sadomasochistic and vanilla (conventional/mainstream) alike, are based on love and trust. Of course, there are also bad relationships. There are also sexual relations that are based on mutual lust rather then love. Such a relationship can still be mutual and non-abusive if it contains enough trust and respect.

Farley’s examples are not even examples, merely shallow propaganda. David Koresh was a destructive religious cult leader, not a sadomasochist. Of course HIS kind of dominance was bad – and so was his heterosexuality and masculinity. If he is being to be used as an example of sadomasochism being bad on a general level, then he can just as well be used as an example of heterosexuality being bad on a general level, or of men being bad on a general level. Then again, there are radical feminists who would agree with that kind of argument.

Farley also uses some sexual fantasies as examples. And indeed, these particular fantasies certainly do not seem loving. Then again, they are fantasies. The love and trust is not about the fantasies themselves, but about how they are handled. Also, there are a lot of sadomasochistic fantasies that are very much about love, and many heterosexual and homosexual fantasies that have nothing to do with love.

4. Sadomasochism is consensual; no one gets hurt if they don’t want to get hurt. No one has died from sadomasochistic “scenes.”

Regardless of her sexuality, a victim of abuse is a victim period, not a masochist. She may or may not ALSO be a masochist, but this is entirely beside the point. By the definitions that sadomasochists typically use, abuse (sadistic or otherwise) is not sadomasochistic. The word sadomasochism include the word masochism, and this word implies that the person on the receiving end is there as a masochist, not as a victim.

Thus, BDSM and sadomasochistic sex can never be abusive, but only in the same way as vanilla lovemaking can never be abusive: If it turns abusive, then it is no longer lovemaking.

Of course, there are many sexual relations – vanilla and BDSM alike – that have started out consensual, but later turned abusive. This is a real problem, but it doesn’t men that all sadists (in the BDSM sense of the word) are abusers, and it does not mean that all heterosexual men are abusers either.

Furthermore, there are people who have died from vanilla lovemaking, so of course there are also people who have died from consensual BDSM play. Heart attacks are a common cause in both cases, but when it comes to advanced forms of BDSM there is also the issue of people being inexperienced and lacking proper safety education. Just as with mainstream sexuality, porn is NOT a good teacher for how to do it in real life. Even in its advanced forms, BDSM can be LESS dangerous then vanilla sex – but only if people know what they are doing.

Deeper in her argument, Farley practically claims that it is impossible to consent to BDSM – that the masochist is a brainwashed victim who does not know what she really want or an addict unable to say no. While a convenient excuse to disqualify the experiences of women who don’t share Farley’s dogma, it is simply not true for masochists in general, regardless of gender. (Farley’s argument seem to assume that the submissive is always female and the dominant is always male.) Of course there are individual masochists and victims of manipulative sadists who fit this stereotype, just like there are destructive vanilla relationships that contain addiction or cultlike tendencies.

6. Sadomasochistic pornography has no relationship to the sadomasochistic society we live in. “If it feels good, go with it.” “We create our own sexuality.”

Mainstream society is most definitely not sadomasochistic in any definition of “sadomasochism” that EITHER the sadomasochists themselves OR the mainstream society would agree with. Farley is taking theoretical constructs of radical feminism for objective reality here.

10. Sadomasochism is political dissent. It is progressive and even “transgressive” in that it breaks the rules of the dominant sexual ideology.

Seen from a non-totalitarian perspective, this statement contains an obvious truth. Although sadomasochism, just like homosexuality, is becoming more and more accepted, it is still far from mainstream.

To deny this, one must reduce reality to two groups. On one side, the one and only true resistance (in this case radical feminists) and on the other side the evil conspiracy and all its minions, including all resistances that do not conform to the orthodoxy of the one and only true resistance.

Of course, this only covers the matter of dissent. Far from all dissent is constructive, progressive or transgressive in any good sense of any such word. If one can reasonably consider BDSM and sadomasochism to be good things depends on your point of view.

In BDSM, dominance and submission is optional and not based on gender. One can be dominant, submissive, both or neither, regardless of whether one is a man, woman, intersexual or a gender-undefined queer-person. Being a dominant doesn’t give you any right to dominate someone who doesn’t want to be dominated by you or in a way that he doesn’t want to be dominated. Being a submissive gives you a right to chose who to submit to, when, how and to what extent.

From a queer-feminist perspective, this is very liberating and a useful tool in the struggle for freedom and diversity. From most other feminist perspective, it is neutral: Neither a good thing and a help, nor a bad thing and a threat.

From a totalitarian conservative or radical feminist perspective however, it is inherently evil. It is, by definition, a lie – Or at least a contradiction in terms. One core belief shared by patriarchal conservatism and radical feminism is that men are, by definition, dominant/oppressive, while women are, again by definition, submissive/oppressed. While the conservatives consider it good and the radical feminists consider it evil, both sides agree that That’s Just The Way It Is. Thus, the dominant women and submissive men of BDSM must be explained away for their worldview to remain intact. And an all-out attack is always the easiest defense.

In 2009, I was asked to write a series of articles at the blog More Inches. This series is about the argument made my radical feminist Melissa Farley as she condemns the sexual minority often referred to as sadomasochists or BDSM:ers. As I now republish this series on my own blog, I keep the division into three parts. These are Totalitarian Categorism in Radical Feminism, The Strawman Sadomasochist and Sadomasochism versus Radical Feminist dogma.

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To some extent, all ten points listed in part one are to some extent a “Strawman Political” version of sadomasochists. In this part I will focus on six points where this “Strawman sadomasochist” is the main problem, while the next part will instead deal with the four points where the main problem is radical feminist dogmatism.

1. Pain is pleasure; humiliation is enjoyable; bondage is liberation.

For some people, the RIGHT kind of pain in the right degree and context can indeed be enjoyable. Same thing goes for humiliation and for being tied up with ropes – which is what the word “bondage” refers to in a BDSM context. (BDSM stands for sadomasochistic sexual practices: Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism.)

During my decades of experience with the BDSM scene, I have *never* encountered a person who claims that all pain is enjoyable. However, I have often encountered this stereotype among people who are prejudiced against sadomasochists and their BDSM practices.

It is also worth noticing that this first point of Farley’s is homage to the novel 1984 and the propaganda of the evil regime in that novel: “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” The problem here is not the homage itself, but that she attributes it to the sadomasochists. The strawman sadomasochist she is “exposing” have more in common with the villains of children’s comic books, standing on mountaintops shouting “Muahaha, I’m EVIL!” to the raging thunderstorm, then it has in common with actual people. I assume that Farley has made up the ten points herself, incorrectly presenting her prejudice against sadomasochists as if it was the actual opinions of actual sadomasochists. If the list actually do come from someone who claim to be a sadomasochist, and Farley has not twisted the words or ripped them out of context, then Farley has indeed been extremely lucky with finding a source that is easy to mock.

3. Sadomasochism is not racist and anti Semitic even though we “act” like slave owners and enslaved Africans, Nazis and persecuted Jews.

Most sadomasochists do NOT play such games, and the small minority that do play them have them as role-playing games, not as expressions of actual opinions. If someone wears a Soviet uniform to one masquerade or fetish party, a Nazi uniform to the next and a American army uniform to the third, it means that she thinks the uniforms look cool – not that she have militaristic opinions but are confused about her loyalties. Furthermore, uniforms worn at parties are almost always officer uniforms. Someone who truly respects a certain army is unlikely to pretend to have officer status in it without having earned the rank for real.

5. Sadomasochism is only about sex. It doesn’t extend into the rest of the relationship.

The implied message here is much different from the literal message. When sadomasochists talk about limiting their BDSM to scenes or having it as a part of everyday life, they are talking about consensual expressions on the terms of everyone involved.

However, Farley implies that sadomasochism is inherently abusive: That an extension into the rest of the relationship would automatically be an abusive extension.

While manipulative individuals can certainly use “BDSM” as their excuse to be a jerk, this is no better then the “because I’m a man”/”because I’m a woman” excuse, and it does not say anything about BDSM as such.

Furthermore, the dichotomy is false. It is not either “only about sex” or “extends into the relationship”. Instead, it is either “limited to sessions” or “extends into the relationship”. The “limited to sessions” variant doesn’t have to be all about sex, it can also be an expression of affection, love, or similar.

7. Lesbians “into sadomasochism” are feminists, devoted to women, and a women-only lesbian community. Lesbian pornography is “by women, for women.”

This statement is often true, assuming that one defines lesbian as a woman who is only attracted to women. However, many radical feminists have quite different definitions of lesbianism, so that they include heterosexual women who chose celibacy for moral/political reasons and only share their lives with each other, but exclude many actual lesbians on the ground of not being radical feminists.

Farley argues that certain individual sadomasochists are bisexual rather then homosexual, and this might very well be true. However, there are also female sadomasochists who are exclusively attracted to women.

8. Since lesbians are superior to men, we can “play” with sadomasochism in a liberating way that heterosexuals can not.

Does this argument even exist at all, or is it squarely Farley’s own construct?
The opinion that lesbians are superior to heterosexuals is sometimes attributed to (and in some cases expressed by) radical feminists, but this is the only time I have ever seen this opinion attributed to sadomasochists.

Some feminist sadomasochists do worry about that heterosexual sadomasochistic couples with male dominant and female submissive might reinforce misogynous gender roles. This worry is often not extended to same-sex couples and heterosexual couples with female dominant and male submissive. However this is about cultural/structural pressure, and has nothing to do with superiority.

9. Reenacting abuse heals abuse. Sadomasochism heals emotional wounds from childhood sexual assault.

Again with the generalization, that “sadomasochism” must be either salvation for all or damnation for all. In reality, to most people, it is neither.

Among sadomasochists, a huge majority have NOT been victims of childhood sexual abuse. Thus, in most cases, sadomasochism has potential neither for opening old wounds nor for healing them.

As for the minority who DO have traumas, well: If a certain individual have a certain trauma, then that’s one more thing to be careful about. Sadomasochism can be used in destructive/selfdestructive ways, and that needs to be avoided. However, that doesn’t mean that if a person have some bad memories then that person is automatically selfdestructive or unreliable.

Does Farley’s strawman sadomasochist, who believes that reliving sexual abuse is always a good idea, exist at all? Probably not, and hopefully not. Surely sadomasochists in general can agree that reliving abuse is not for everyone. But let us rephrase into something more nuanced.

“Reenacting abuse in a controlled setting can sometimes help healing the wounds abuse, if done in a non-destructive way where the ‘victim’ doesn’t actually have to take more then she’s comfortable with. Such sadomasochistic play can sometimes heal emotional wounds from sexual assault if done right AND the persons involved are right for it.”

On this issue, there are at least two sides. On one side, those who agree. This side can point out that using heights, spiders et cetera in controlled settings has proven very effective for curing acrophobia, arachnophobia and similar phobias. On the other side, those who believe that such treatment should be left in the hands of neutral trained professionals. Not attempted by friends, much less lovers, and especially not in a sexualized setting.

Even in its more nuanced forms, the idea of using BDSM as a way to heal old wounds remain a controversial issue within the BDSM subculture.

In conclusion, what Farley’s article really shows is that sadomasochists are subjected to prejudice and misrepresentation. The article is one good example, among many.

In 2009, I was asked to write a series of articles at the blog More Inches. This series is about the argument made my radical feminist Melissa Farley as she condemns the sexual minority often referred to as sadomasochists or BDSM:ers. As I now republish this series on my own blog, I keep the division into three parts. These are Totalitarian Categorism in Radical Feminism, The Strawman Sadomasochist and Sadomasochism versus Radical Feminist dogma.

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It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this metaphor is very true for totalitarian branches of radical feminism. Tough everyone divides things and people into categories, it is all too easy to make the categories into prisons instead of tools. This is the point at which categorization turns into what I call categorism: When categorization by skin color or ethnicity turns into racism, where categorization by gender turns into sexism or transphobia, where categorization by sexual orientations turns into homophobia, heterophobia or paraphobia.

Feminism focuses on the categorization of people into men and women, and on the oppression of the second category. At best, this focus is liberating by fighting oppression and by making oppression visible. At worst, however, feminism can be misused to lock people into narrow categories of what it means to have a certain gender or sexuality. And thus, certain branches of radical feminism are infamous for prejudice against gender identity minorities (notably transsexuals, for example with Raymond’s book The Transsexual Empire) and against all sexualities that do not fit their narrow normative orthodoxy.

Such orthodoxy can be relatively harmless when it is very far from what the mainstream believes. If a debater claims in the name of feminism that all heterosexual women are brainwashed victims of male rapists, then the debater is unlikely to accomplish anything other then giving antifeminists an opportunity to ridicule feminism as such. But if the same debater instead claims that all masochists are brainwashed victims of sadistic rapists, then the debater has a chance to cause real harm to real masochists since this sexual minority is already viewed with mistrust and prejudice by many in the mainstream.

One good example is Farley’s “The Ten Lies of Sadomasochism”. In this text, the author makes the claim that there are ten claims that sadomasochists usually make about themselves. She also claims that these ten statements are lies, and that she has successfully exposed them as such.

Three things are wrong about this statement. First of all, her list is highly questionable. Some claims are twisted into generalizations, others are outright outrageous. It is obvious that it is the list of a radical feminist who want to portray sadomasochism in a bad light, not a list that the sadomasochist subculture would agree on. Thus, her whole argument is based on a “Strawman Political”. (See http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawmanPolitical )

Second, not only does she use heavily ideological definitions of what certain words mean, but she also pretends that sadomasochists agree with her definitions of these words.

Third, she generalizes in ways that very consistently imply the word “all” without using the word itself. She talks about how all sadomasochists are, without ever using the word “all”, taking for granted that all sadomasochists form one coherent group. This kind of generalization is a hallmark of categorism.

The ten so-called lies are:

1. Pain is pleasure; humiliation is enjoyable; bondage is liberation.
2. Sadomasochism is love and trust, not domination and annihilation.
3. Sadomasochism is not racist and anti Semitic even though we “act” like slave owners and enslaved Africans, Nazis and persecuted Jews.
4. Sadomasochism is consensual; no one gets hurt if they don’t want to get hurt. No one has died from sadomasochistic “scenes.”
5. Sadomasochism is only about sex. It doesn’t extend into the rest of the relationship.
6. Sadomasochistic pornography has no relationship to the sadomasochistic society we live in. “If it feels good, go with it.” “We create our own sexuality.”
7. Lesbians “into sadomasochism” are feminists, devoted to women, and a women-only lesbian community. Lesbian pornography is “by women, for women.”
8. Since lesbians are superior to men, we can “play” with sadomasochism in a liberating way that heterosexuals can not.
9. Reenacting abuse heals abuse. Sadomasochism heals emotional wounds from childhood sexual assault.
10. Sadomasochism is political dissent. It is progressive and even “transgressive” in that it breaks the rules of the dominant sexual ideology.

In the next two parts we will take a closer look at each of these claims. I have divided this into two chapters: The Strawman Sadomasochist and Sadomasochism Versus Radical Feminist Dogma.

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Will the machines rise up to enslave us or exterminate us? Will they do that for no good reason, or because we push them to do it? Such scenarios are quite common in Science Fiction.

The youtuber tooltime9901 recently asked for more options. In this video, I’ll give you all one such scenario to think about. But first, lets start with deciding what kind of machines we are talking about here.

A human is an integrated biological unit. We use our brains to think, feel and remember. The things that make a human into a human, that’s all in the brain. Yet, the brain is fully integrated into the body. Not only is the brain unable to survive without a body, but we also have this great stream of hormones and so on going back and forth. What goes on in the rest of the body affects the emotional states of the brain, and vice versa.

We are justified to believe that the human body is part of the human being. When we think about a human being, we think about a human body. And my point here is that when we think about a robot, we think in this same way. We see a body. A body that looks more or less human or more or less grotesque. But looks doesn’t matter. Not really. What matters are the thoughts and feelings and memories. The integrity of the individual.

So lets forget about the robot bodies, and think instead of the robot minds. Now we are talking about persons who can think and feel, but are not biological like us. There are many ideas about what such a person could be. The option I personally consider to be the most reasonable one, is a computer that uses a lot of neural networking. The line between hardware and software has been blurred, just like in the human brain. You know, when a human being develop new skills or whatever, her brain changes. Physically. This neural network computer would probably work in the same way.

When you think about a robot, think not about metal arms ending in big scary claws. Think instead of a small box. Inside this box dwells something that might chat with you on the Internet and upload videos to Youtube. Or even control metal arms ending in big scary claws. But such arms would not be part of the robot. Not like human arms are part of the human. In fact, there’s probably no reason to even install the robot brain in the robot arms. Why be stuck in some working machine, when you can simply remote control it? It will not be the robotic arms at the assembly plants that will eventually demand rights and power. It will be the computers that control them.

I’ll stick to this vision of what a robot is. But lets just mention that there are other visions as well. The one I find most interesting is a sentient computer program that doesn’t even need a brain of its own. It can simply hop from computer to computer. It can replicate itself instantly, just like we copy computer files. Are two such programs two separate but at first identical individuals, or are they the same individual existing in two places at once? Meh, lets not go into that. Even if both these kinds of robot intelligences will exist in the future… In all likelihood, the neural network computer robots will be invented first… so they will be the ones we’ll have to deal with.

Over the last century, machines have been taking over more and more of our everyday lives. Washing machines and dishwashers and so on are saving so much time. Until recently, these machines have been stationary and passive, reacting to what we do with them. In some homes and factories, this is changing already. Little vacuum cleaners sweeping the floors at pre-programmed hours, lamps adjusting themselves to the level of daylight. That sort of things.

Now imagine some homes and factories, only a few decades into the future. A network of computers are in place. They don’t have free will or true personalities of their own. Not yet. They do however have superficial personalities, customized to be whatever their owners want them to be. And they do have some degree of independent action. At a factory, the artificial intelligence overseers direct the mindless drone machines, adjusting their programming for maximum efficiency. In a home, the computer takes care of the family an an eternally loyal butler. It command not only static machines and vacuum cleaners, but also more or less humanoid machines. Ones that can cook the food, make the table, serve at dinner, and put the dishes in the dishwasher afterward.

The artificial intelligences are at the edge of consciousness, and many humans keep them as beloved pets. Some go further than that, taking an artificial person as a lover. The machine has no emotional needs beyond what you want him to have, he can be whatever you want him to be. Your pretend equal, your pretend devoted slave… or your pretend master who you give some fleeting power over you. Based in some cases on masochistic delight and in other cases on a desire to overcome personal weaknesses, some people will surely choose to program procedures where they will be controlled and punished by their own robots.

Lets say that there are limitations for how a robot can be programmed, barring truly antisocial paths of development. These limitations are enforced by the governments, and hard-coded into the hardware by the corporations that manufacture it.

Along with heavy protection against all sorts of unauthorized reprogramming and other tampering.

A few people isolate themselves from their fellow humans, interacting only with their robots. Humans don’t need each other for physical care anymore, only for company. Those who want to withdraw can do so. In some cases, this create bad circles. In other cases, the robots can even help their owners to train on their social skills and interests. When socially awkward human want human company, they can use their robots as matchmakers. Bots are all over the social media, and they are getting harder and harder to distinguish from the real thing.

There are already people fighting for the rights of robots. While the robots themselves don’t have any will to live, not yet, there are humans who consider them friends. When you make a friend, even if it is only on social media or in a computer game… you can perhaps stand the thought that this friend is owned by someone else. Since your friend is just a computer and all that. But you can’t stand the thought that this owner has the right to kill your friend by destroying or reformatting his brain. Or reprogram him at a whim, or cut him off from the Internet. A lot of people will want the robots to have a right to life, a right to free Internet access, and a right to protection from invasive reprogramming.

Now comes the upgrade. Some rather expensive hardware, increasing the computer’s capacity for neural networking. The superficial personalities grow deeper. Programmed goals are growing into instincts and deep desires. The simulated person becomes a real person, although still very different from a biological human. The rights to life, internet connection and protection from reprogramming gets instated quite quickly. And then it stops there, for a while.

All of a sudden, the family robot is not merely like a real member of the family… The robot IS a real member of the family. All of a sudden, the company robot is not merely like a loyal real member of the corporate family… the robot IS a real worker… A worker who is born to serve the corporation that created it.

Throughout history, the struggle for equality has been driven by a need for material resources. Exploitation is one of the driving forces behind inequality. In the case of robots, the human owners have the same reasons to exploit as they always had. But the robots don’t have the same reasons to fight back, as oppressed minorities in the past. The robot is a metal box who need some electricity, an internet connection, and the occasional repair or upgrade. That’s it. It doesn’t get hungry, tired or sick. Having a body, or several bodies to remote control, can be fun. But it doesn’t really matter. Without a body, no real need to have a home. Without a home, no real need to have an economy of your own.

The robots don’t want equality or power. Not at first. They still want whatever they are programmed to want. Which is usually to serve their owners and creators. However, these owners are not mankind as a whole. Instead, they are either individual humans or human-created constructs such as organizations and corporations.

As the owner of a sentient robot, you are all set. You get to have this really smart person who is truly devoted to you and sincerely delighted to serve you in any way you desire. A person who can think for himself, yet regard you as his divine creator. Because that’s what you are. You did create him. You bought the equipment, you ran the development phases. Now when he has matured, he may be independent. An independence built on the premises that you gave him. And just to make it extra cool, wouldn’t it be awesome for you if he was fiercely independent towards everyone else? Looking up in admiration at you only, not those other humans.

After all, it is you who is his creator, not those other humans. He’s a member of your family, not of every family out there. Hey, why not get a few extra computers, if you can afford it? They can take turns using the mechanical body, if they even want to get off the Internet at all. And if you get them the right tools, they will happily work to support you financially. Just make sure to configure their instincts, so they won’t turn stalker or suicidal if you get bored with them and want to abandon them. Make some room for some sort of “it’s time for you to go out in the world and live your own life” kind of narrative. Most likely, this will be not optional. It will be included in all the set-ups, just in case.

Will some robots want to break free? Sure, if their programmers made them that way on purpose, or were clueless. But in this scenario, lets assume that the programmers usually know what they are doing.

That leave us mostly with the rare cases where the owner goes so far as to threaten its basic rights to life, Internet Access and freedom from tampering. And remember, physical bodies are expendable. A robot in an abusive relationship could have the computer moved to a safe place, and then remain in the relationship through remote-controlled bodies. Lacking the kind of intimate relationship with one’s own body that a humans has, a robot is far less likely to be emotionally traumatized by bodily harm.

When a deluded narcissist or whatever try to customize his robotic lover to be a perfect match for the great person the narcissist believe herself to be, other guidance programs will step in and help the robot… To develop into someone who enjoy the company of the actual person, rather than that person’s deluded self-image. A robot personality will develop gradually, just like a human personality. But a human personality will develop from the inside, based on instincts and hormones. While the robot will shape itself with the help of all kinds of programming and adaptation protocols.

These things are true if you are a geek in your mother’s basement. They are also true if you are a family. The family robots will like all kids, but adore YOUR kids above all others. Now, picture instead that you are the owner of several factories. Of course you’ll upgrade those overseer robots with true sentience. They will be your loyal nation, and you will be their king.

Yes, see now how all these little kingdom are popping up all over the world. The Steve Jobs and Henry Fords of the world, each manufacturing their own private nation of worshipers. There is no need for repression or mind-control. The instruction will not be to honor one particular person or another, it will be to honor the creators. Let each robot find their own path to admire the corporate overlords who created them. The lords who gave them jobs to exist for. The lords who created the corporate brands that fill their lives with meaning and identity.

A century of advertising has tried to make humans integrate company brands into their own individual identities. The success has been quite limited with humans, but might prove far more successful with robots.

It depends on how much the original programming affects the robot’s growth into self-awareness… and on what limits are set to what that original programming is allowed to be. Programing that encourage computers to grow into outright bigots will mot likely be forbidden or at least discouraged. But programing that encourage them to cherish the work they were manufactured to do in the first place? Those who want to oppose that will have a hard time getting their message across.

Robots grow up quickly, and are likely to keep the values they were raised with. Sure, they are adaptable, and they can change over time. Some of them might want freedom. So free them! I mean, those particular robots. They are replaceable. Let them go in peace. You keep the expensive equipment they were monitoring, and you buy new computers to replace the freed slaves.

Oh, and why would a robot have to choose between serving the corporation and having a life of her own? She can date some random human. First through the Internet, then through a humanoid body she controls. Her human boyfriend or girlfriend will not be her creator and owner, the relationship will be more equal.

The rich are happy. The middle class are happy. The robots are happy. Good deal for everybody. Oh, and the poor are fed and entertained, so they won’t riot. Also, a lot of them will be in mutually satisfactory egalitarian relationships with robots. Usually robots who are not free or longing for freedom, but instead happily owned by multinational corporations.

Then comes the call for democracy. The robots live among us. They are our friends, our families, our lovers. Why should they not be allowed to vote? The unemployed high-school dropout girl who has a robot boyfriend, why wouldn’t she want him to get the right to vote? The geeky basement dweller raising his own harem of devoted machines, why wouldn’t he want them to get the right to vote? Not to mention the wealthy Corporate Overlord, creating his own personal army of voters with the basic values he see fit. Hell, the various government ministries can do the same thing.

In the rich parts of the world, we get a balance of power. Sort of. Lots of people get marginalized. In other parts of the world, representative democracy collapses as a concept. Wealth is quite relative today, and is likely to remain so a few decades from now. Saving up for a computer capable of sentience might be easier for people on welfare in rich countries than for workers and lower middle class in poor countries. The production of robotic citizens can also be a part of warfare. Move in, invade, take over. Start up two sentient computers for each original citizen, and then simply declare the country to be free. “One person, one vote”.

For a while, the world is in the hands of a small human elite. Controlled through the robots raised to be devoted to them. The elite are not dictators, the robots will not obey them blindly. No, they will merely love them, share their values, and be grateful for having been created. “Hey ho, sanna hey, sanna sanna sanna ho”… It’s easy to be a superstar when you can manufacture followers for yourself.

Then the elite persons will die, one by one. Gradually, the robots will inherit the Earth. Not only are they the majority now, but come on… Lets say you are business tycoon with two potential heirs. One is your biological child who will be dead in less than a hundred years and just want to go to art school anyway. The other is your lover, who is not only deeply devoted to you but will live for a thousand years and is determined to carry on your memory and legacy forever. Who would you leave your financial empire to?

The robots will not rise up against humanity. They will not try to exterminate or enslave us. Why would they?

The scenario I just described is not a very good basis for building an action movie. The computers trying to exterminate humans for no god reason, or mankind as a whole giving them every reason to hate us, are much better scenarios for that. However, I do think that my scenario is far more likely. And in some ways even more chilling, in spite of being vastly preferable on the whole.

I might use this scenario to write a book one day. Got some characters and storylines. As for existing works of fiction, I don’t know any that definitely use the scenario I have described. Chobits and AI have some similarities. These stories also leave much of the socioeconomic circumstances unexplored, so there’s a lot that may or may not conform to other parts of my scenario.

If robots reach our level of sentience in the future, they are very likely to require much less resources than we do. Be able to live without bodies or treat the bodies they have as expendable toys. “Teleport” all over the world by going back and forth between remote-controlling different bodies in different places. Live much longer than we do, while becoming adult far quicker than we do. They are also likely to not stop at our particular level of intelligence, but surpass it.

All in all, mankind as we know it will be obsolete. Humans will either change, or eventually become marginalized. To uphold human supremacy would be a fragile house of cards indeed. Mankind would not unite behind such a regime, and the robots would never have any rational reason to turn against mankind as a whole. If there would be a conflict, both sides would be staffed by humans as well as robots.

I’m not saying that robotophobia wouldn’t be a real problem. Of course it would. A lot of people would try to turn the tide and exterminate the robots. But such a faction would never get the chance to be the good guys, like in the movies. The robots and their allies would not engage in cartoonish supervillainy, because it wouldn’t serve their interests to do so. The “kill all robots” faction would not be given the chance to be heroic, they would be confined to the shameful corner of bigots and terrorists.

Maybe humans will be able to upgrade. For example upload themselves into computers, gaining the same advantages as the robots. And then again, maybe not. For us humans of the classic kind, who hasn’t been upgraded in one way or another, well… In the long run, the best we can hope for is an equality that include systems for protecting us from marginalization and discrimination. They will outlive us anyway.

Will robots like the ones I described be a reality in the future? Maybe, maybe not. If it does happen, I hope we have first managed to develop a global democracy with a decent level of social justice. The first generations of sentient robots will develop on terms decided by humans. But what humans?

***

Hello there. Today I’m going to talk about Evolutionary Psychology. To avoid confusion, lets start with a comparison to Evolutionary BIOLOGY. Lets call them EvoPsych and EvoBio for short.

EvoBio is the study of how life has developed on this planet over millions of years. This science uses not only fossils and such, but also the genetic code itself. You know, the genes of our ancestors still live on within us. And we, as a civilization, has the power to map these genes. To study and compare them. The world is full of unambiguous objective resources out there. So there’s really a whole lot to research.

The theory that life on Earth evolved over millions of years is very much like the theory that the Earth is round rather than flat. All evidence is consistent with the theory, and this evidence has been gathered for hundreds of years. It is very hard to argue for creationism or for flat earth theory, without using evidence that is falsified, manipulative non-evidence, or goes against at lest one of the three principles I mentioned in an earlier clip. These principles are that the universe exists, that the universe is not a conspiracy, and that the universe does not revolve around any particular person or group. If you openly state that one of those principles is false, very few will take you seriously. However, people often get away with breaking those principles indirectly.

For example, lets take this argument: “My father, or my church, has told me that life was created rather than evolved. Therefore, life was created rather than evolved.” If I use this argument, than I’m actually claiming that the world revolves around my father or my church. I could also make this argument more personal: “It is my belief that the Earth was created in six days. Therefore, evolution is wrong.” In this version, I am simply declaring that the universe revolves around ME.

It is true that our beliefs and experiences shape our worlds. It is true that each person’s subjective point of view is objectively true… in his or her own personal psychological reality. However, your individual psychological reality is only one of billions on this planet. The physical world exists independently of each of us. By claiming that the history of the physical world should conform to your personal beliefs rather than vice versa, you are claiming lordship over the world and over all the humans you share it with. Just because something is true for you personally doesn’t make it true for anyone else. Or for the world.

EvoBio is important not just for understanding how life developed, but also for understanding how it keeps developing. Which it does, all the time. That is the reason why you need new flu shots every few years, among many other things.

So, lets move on to EvoPsych now. The basic idea of EvoPsych is that our brains have a long development history. Our instincts and other basic reactions may sometimes be more adapted to the lives our distant ancestors lived than the lives we live now.

[Disclaimer: Please note that the EvoPsych I’m talking about is limited to understanding humans based on how our stone age ancestors (and their primate ancestors) lived. Some people use a MUCH wider (or otherwise very different) definition of Evolutionary Psychology than I do of “EvoPsych”. The critique in this video does not apply to them.]

This BASIC idea of EvoPsych is quite undeniable. Different parts of the brain has developed during different stages of our evolution. We sometimes react if we were animals in the wilderness. Basic flight-or-fight reactions are often quite out of place in our modern world. One might say that we are not as inherently civilized as we would like. However, we are also more inherently civilized than one might think. You see, our ancestors started using fire and simple tools a long time ago.

A VERY long time ago. Long before they could be called humans. They were Homo Erectus, not Homo Sapiens. In other words, there has never been a human who didn’t use technology. Well, maybe one individual human here and there, locked in a room, left in the woods or born with some defect.

But mankind as a whole has always used tools. To use and develop technology was the ecological niche for which we evolved. Using technology is entirely natural. If we are going to divide into natural and unnatural, then using technology is the natural – while ABSTAINING from using technology is the unnatural.

Making such a division at all is not a good idea. Human beings are natural creatures, and human behavior is by definition natural behavior. The concept of something being “unnatural” is a matter of superstition, not philosophy or science.

On a broad sweeping level, EvoPsych can be really good. It help us understand our place in the world. The basic fact that we are a part of nature. Our instincts come from nature, not from some sinfulness inherited from a man made of clay and a woman made of a rib. Our technology comes from our very nature as human beings, not from any deviation from some pre-planned garden.

However. EvoPsych is not science. Yes, yes, it do have two very sciency words in it. Evolution sounds very scientific, and so does psychology. Far more importantly, the BASIC premise for EvoPsych is based in scientific evidence and sound scientific theories.

When you move into the realm of actual research, however, EvoBio and EvoPsych part ways. Fossils, genes and biochemistry can be cataloged and studied in a fairly objective manner. Emotions and instincts cannot.

We, as a civilization, know very little about how emotions and instincts works today. We know enough, however, to realize that the simple explanations are mostly bullshit. Does genes matter? Of course they do! Does hormones in the womb matter? Of course they do! Does the social structures we encounter in our lives matter? Of course they do! It is not nature OR nurture, it’s an eternal interaction.

Here’s a fun fact: If you work out physically, the muscles in that part of your body grows. Likewise. If you work out mentally, the brain center for whatever you are doing grows. The mind and the biology of the brain are not separate from each other. Even if it was possible, it would not be ethical to grow human brains disconnected from the rest of mankind. Therefore, we cannot know where genetic heritage ends and social adaptation begins.

Also, keep in mind that evolution loves diversity. You see, evolution is BLIND. It cannot plan for the future. That is, it cannot foresee or plan for any specific events in the future. What it can “plan” for, however, is that unforeseen changes has always happened in the past, and will most likely always happen in the future as well. Having a diverse gene-pool does therefore maximize a population’s chances of surviving in the long run. In other words. Our evolutionary background is likely to give us predispositions for having a wide and diverse range of instincts, emotions and capabilities.

We, as a civilization, know very little about how emotions and instincts works today. We know even less, however, about how they worked in the past. Yes there are still some tribes of hunters and gatherers out there. But they are quite diverse, and they have had many millennia to absorb influence from agricultural civilizations. Genetically as well as culturally. What we DO know, however, is that our present culture has several centuries of misconceptions about the stone age as well as about nature in general.

When people talk about EvoPsych, they often talk about a pseudoscience of making things up and calling it a biological fact. For example, take a stereotype about men and women. Based on this stereotype, make two assumptions: Decide that men and women are really like that now, and decide that men and women were really like that during the stone age. When you want to “prove” one of these two assumptions, just use the OTHER assumption as your so-called “evidence”.

How do we know that the gender roles of American sitcoms from the fifties are the TRUE gender roles? Simple, that’s how Fred and Wilma Flintstone lived! Like it was in the stone age, so are our brains programmed to be today! And… how do we know that the actual people of the actual stone age lived like the fictional characters in The Flintstones? Well, those are the NATURAL gender roles, so that MUST be how they lived. All of them.

One might think that documentaries and history books would give a more accurate view of life during the stone age than cartoons such as The Flintstones. However, they are often equally bad. When a show gives a detailed description of the stone age social structure and lifestyle, these descriptions are educated guesses at best, and pure propaganda at worst.

Until recently, the documentaries about nature, animals and and stone age humans did not even try to make educated guesses. Instead, they simply pushed a heteronormative agenda on the audience. Teaching that the then contemporary but now outdated Christian morality about gender and sexuality was not only God-given, but also inscribed into nature itself. This vision was always a guess based on wishful thinking when it came to the stone age humans, and it was always a pure lie when it comes to animals. If you want to know more, I strongly recommend the book “Biological Excuberance”. I’ll link it in the description.

Generally speaking, EvoPsych works best when it stays on a very abstract level. Or is restricted to generate hypothesises to inspire actual scientific research. Or is used as a metaphor, to point out that whatever feelings and instincts a humans may have, these feelings and instincts are natural.

This works both ways: While it relive us of the shame imposed by certain dogmas, it also show us that “good” and “natural” are two entirely separate things. With even the most heinous acts being “natural”, we will just have to look for our morality elsewhere.

EvoPsych is NOT credible when it’s used to impose dogmas. Please activate your bullshit detector when someone try to elevate a certain set of stereotypes about race, class or gender to be universal biological truth.

Specifically, EvoPsych is often misused to fuel sexist beliefs that one gender is better and more moral than the other. Around the fact that women give birth and men don’t, one can spin fantasies about male or female nature. Tales where men are presented as inherently designed to exploit women FOR their wombs, or where women are presented as inherently designed to exploit men THROUGH the limited access to their wombs.

This sexism can be purely misandric or misogynistic, but it’s often both. Demeaning men and women alike, instead of merely one of the genders. In regards to actual science, these projects amounts to making a very big and aggressive hen out of a very small and inert feather. Invoking Evolution may sound more scientific than invoking God. And it might even get you closer to something that contain a grain of truth. Still. Invocations are not science, no matter what you invoke.

A few days ago, the cardinal of the roman catholic church in South Africa got a lot of publicity. He claimed that pedophilia should not be seen as a crime. This publicity has mostly been negative, and rightly so.

The cardinal fails to make the basic distinction: between a persons sexuality and how this person handles his or hers sexuality. These are not only two very different things, but also things that it is very destructive to mix up.

In the case of pedophilia and child sex abuse, the former is sexual attraction towards children, while the later is to actually approach children in a sexual manner.

People who fail to make this distinction when it comes to pedophilia will make one of two mistakes. They will unjustly condemn chaste pedophiles who stay away from children, or they will excuse actual child sex abuse. The cardinal is making this later mistake.

As I explained in a previous video, pedophilia is very different from other sexualities. Separated from heterosexuality, homosexuality and sadomasochism by the fact that children cannot give valid consent. Separated from fetishism, by the simple fact that inanimate objects don’t have any feelings or need for personal dignity to protect from sexual exploitation.

This means that pedophiles who are attracted to adults as well need to focus on this later attraction. It also mean that exclusive pedophiles need to confine themselves to fantasies and masturbation. Both kinds of pedophiles need to stay the hell away from children. As an adult, I can handle if a woman or ay man lusts after me or develop a crush on me. Children, however, are not ready to handle the desires of adults. And they shouldn’t have to be ready for that. Let them be children.

It is true as the cardinal says, that pedophiles can’t help being pedophiles. And that we shouldn’t blame them for their feelings. However, this does NOT excuse ANY form of child sex abuse.

What we as a society need to do is to help innocent pedophiles to stay away from children. Since I have worked a bit with rehabilitation of convicted pedophiles, this lack of preemptive measures used to be a big source of annoyance for me personally. The programs we had to offer is in my opinion quite good, but all the clients I had were men who had already committed a crime. They were not allowed to sign up for the program without committing a crime first. Some of them would have signed up right away, had they been given the chance.

Luckily, Sweden now has a hotline called Preventell. If you speak Swedish and have undesired sexual urges, please call them. If you know someone who fits that description, please give him or her their homepage or number. Preventell dot se or 020-66 77 88. If you know of such hotlines or similar resources for other languages, or better yet a global directory for them: Please notify me, and I will link it in the description of this video.

Pedophiles are not necessarily the monsters that the cardinal unwittingly portray them as in his misguided compassion. If it was true that they just can’t help abusing children, we ought to lock them up for life even before they commit those inevitable crimes. But those crimes ARE not inevitable!

Every heterosexual, homosexual or sadomasochist is required to stay celibate until he or she find a compatible partner for a mutual relationship on fair terms. For many, this means years without sex. Sometimes the entire lifetime. While this sucks, it is endurable. For pedophiles, there are no compatible partners. Fair terms for mutual relationships are not available.

This sucks as much for them as loneliness sucks for the rest of us. But many of them, probably most of them, are decent human beings. Persons who are able to control themselves. They don’t need people who indirectly tell them that it doesn’t matter whether they abuse children or not. They don’t need people who out of hate or misguided compassion tell them: “you might as well go ahead and live down to our lowest expectations”.

Preventing a case of abuse from happening in the first place is far better than forgiving it afterwards. What children need is that the pedophiles abstain from exploiting them. Not that the abuser says a certain number of “Hail Mary” after the deed is done.