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Humans to Become Irrelevant

A reader named Science Tim posted an interesting comment this morning on the Mars item, and here's an excerpt of what he said:

"If we only work on solving the problems of making more and smarter robots and getting them into space instead of ourselves, then those are the problems that we will solve. Following that plan, eventually there will be no need for us to explore at all, the robots will do the whole job. If we make truly intelligent robots that are able to design and build the next generation of robots, then it's not too outlandish to conclude that there will be no need, eventually, for us to exist as either the creators of robotic explorers or as the consumers of the information they gather. They'll be doing it by themselves, for themselves. They won't have to do away with us in some nightmare scenario, we will simply make ourselves irrelevant."

My assumption is that we will work on making our lives more pleasurable, interesting, exciting, communicative, romantic -- that if you look at technology, it's ultimate achievement is not the moon landing, but the Gameboy, the Ipod, the cellphone and Viagra.

Everyone should check out the story by Joel Garreau that ran a couple of days ago. Garreau is exploring the future of what it means to be human. The visionaries see a merging of human and machine -- or even, in a different way, a decoupling of human intelligence and human flesh. You could build the case that we will indeed explore the universe, but without dragging along our hard-to-support flesh and blood.

But a lot of us are porch people, who like to hang out and listen to the birds and read a good book [and, admit it, drink wine and smoke a stoge], and we will fight to retain our flesh and blood, our good ol' human meat, and the Old Ways of doing things. Our motto is: Immortality in Moderation.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 18, 2005; 12:29 PM ET
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Is the ultimate achievement Viagra and the iPOD? I thought it was the pill some years ago...the one for women?

Thank to this revolutionary hormonal science, couples could have pleasure without consequence...? I've always wondered if it's pleasurable for a man to be in the excited state for four hours, thanks to Viagra? Any takers of Viagra willing to post in answer to my question? Since you mentioned Arianna, it's so nice to have more women writing about women's issues...and sexuality.

And woman's pleasure may be evolutionarily as important as the male nipple? If men had half a clue of how to give pleasure rather than take it for themselves, the world would be a far mo' bettah place. Are women more evolutionary superior because they can have multiple pleasures in minutes vs. the man's all too rapid fountaining? Is our Eve-olutionary destiny in the X chromosome rather than the mechanical robot?

Don't have a Gameboy, needed a cellphone only as a security device on a cross-country driving adventure. I prefer--always--to be off the electronic leash (computer excluded).

Was it really necessary to carry a cellphone to Kamchatka, Joel? And you were worried about being picked clean by vultures once you stepped off the mountain trail? Oh, City Boy!!! Why have an iPOD when I can sing any tune I want at the inhalation of a breath? The nightingale is resident in me. But bring your good books to the porch.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | May 18, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Forget Mars, forget Newsweek's Quran-gate, Ariana Huffington, Norman Mailer's babblings....Weingarten disclosed that you named your daughter "Paris."

You named a poor child after that dim-witted, solipsistic, spoiled brat? Oh Joel...THIS needs an explanation.

Posted by: Karen B | May 18, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

How unfortunate that when we hear the name Paris it is no longer the French city that first comes to mind.

Posted by: Achenfan | May 18, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

For the record I think it's a free country and Joel & Mrs. Joel can name their kids whatever they want.


From now on I'm using my last name, nobody shares this:


Posted by: I was Karen B first... | May 18, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

But you have to understand, she looks like a "Paris." We had no choice.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 18, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't know if Karen B above realizes that Gene W's story took place in 1991.

Posted by: TBG | May 18, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Linda!

I just about fountained all over my keyboard reading your comments.

Attempting to stifle laughter while drinking water, folks, nothing else.

As much as it tickles me to be painted with the same old broad brush e.g.,"If men had half a clue of how to give pleasure rather than take it for themselves, the world would be a far mo' bettah place. Are women more evolutionary superior because they can have multiple pleasures in minutes vs. the man's all too rapid fountaining...", that we've enjoyed for the past 50 years, let me resort to a cliche'.

"It takes two to tango."
Better lovers are made, not born.


Posted by: bc | May 18, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Dear bc (before contraception? ;-)joke tag)

No better adage than: To get better lovemaking, be the better lover...

I am amused that you fountained all over your keyboard. There is certainly more than one way "to fountain"...Your post made my day! It's truly not in the fortitude, but the attitude, say I.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | May 18, 2005 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Joel is SUCH a wino.

Posted by: Mom | May 18, 2005 5:41 PM | Report abuse


It was actually Tantric fountaining.

A few weeks back Joel caused me to have a similar coffee-based reaction on my keyboard which unfortunately took the path of least resistance, which I did not refer to as a [joke]"boogery Tsunami"[/joke].

I enjoy your posts, too.

beginning consummation
Human Male: good for moving heavy objects, easily outwitted.

Posted by: bc | May 18, 2005 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if robots will one day make human spouses obsolete. Human relationships are so high maintenance. There are also abusive spouses, cheating spouses, passive-aggressive spouses, spouses that grow fat or don't help with house chores. Robots may solve all those problems some day.

Posted by: Tim | May 19, 2005 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. . . . The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and a demonstration of separateness."

-- "A Course in Miracles"
Foundation for Inner Peace

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