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Lonely Robots: Transhumanist Responses to Unfuckability July 4, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Feminism, Queer politics, Science Fiction, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Soon after I mentioned being genderqueer during a conversation at the Extreme Futurist Festival 2011, the person I was talking to responded, “Wow, it must be hard for you to find sexual partners!”

“Gee, thanks,” I thought. As tactless as that remark may have been, it wasn’t wrong. This piece by Meredith Talusan explores some of the dynamics involved. Unfortunately, complaining about not getting laid immediately calls to mind masculine sexual entitlement to women’s bodies. I’m not sure it can escape that established trope.

The question of who’s considered attractive and who receives affection matters, but it’s unclear what to do. Most successful folks on the left and elsewhere enjoy their social power and/or romantic/sexual attractiveness. Critiques of the status quo as making it difficult for some to realize their desires potentially unsettle the existing elite, so they’ve no interest in pushing such critiques.

It’s telling Talusan’s article centers the achievement of Jacob Tobia and Alok Vaid-Menon, taking for granted the notion that prominent folks should get dates. What about all the humans who conform to neither ideals of attractiveness nor of success?

Well, nobody cares about those losers!

Imagenes Tristes 84

Anybody who values the overall good should care, though, and some do, or at least pretend to. Transhumanism offers various theoretical easy fixes to the problems of loneliness and unfuckability, albeit with severe implementation issues and philosophical implications.

Morphological Freedom

Wait, some people are poor, ugly, crazy, and/or sick? Let’s use technology to get them up to standard. We can all be sexy immortal billionaires!

A lot of transhumanists think this way.

As simplistic as this perspective is seems, the difficulty if not impossibility of conforming to existing norms indeed accounts for much of their oppressive power. Currently, the genetic lottery, money, and time determine who’s beautiful, hot, sexy, stunning, etc. If anybody could make their body match ideals of physical beauty, the advantage the genetic elite have in this regard would evaporate.

On the other hand, the normatively gorgeous don’t necessarily have the kind of sexual and romantic relationships they want, so opening access to beauty hardly seems sufficient. Additionally, what about folks who chose unpopular aesthetics? They might still find themselves undesirable despite full morphological freedom. Additionally, deprived of the genetic hierarchy, attractiveness norms could shift to become akin to fashion: “Girl, that body is so last month!”

The prospect of modifying minds quickly leads to questioning the basis of individual identity. For example, assuming I could make myself think and behave as popular and successful people do, would I want to? What about rewiring my mind to disregard social status and affection entirely? Would I still be me if I did either of those? I don’t know. Many of us stubbornly wish to remain who we imagine ourselves to be.

Matching Algorithms

Given the wide array of different desires folks have, morphological freedom by itself seems inadequate for solving the problem of loneliness and unfuckability. And of course full morphological freedom would require technological innovation and economic transformation; it’s a long way off.

However, there’s potential to make things dramatically better in the nearer term. Matching algorithms, such as featured on dating sites like OkCupid, can facilitate connections and enable romantic/sexual relationships. This ain’t necessarily that great at the moment, but the principle of aligning people’s desires, interests, etc. has promise. As big the world is, there’s probably at least a few folks somewhere whose desires match up with any given person’s at any given time.

For instance, let’s say I want to get tied up right now. I don’t know anyone who I think would be interested, but there’s a decent chance one or more of the planet’s seven and half billion humans is, especially if they had an idea of who I am and a basic level of trust. There might even be somebody my city or neighborhood.

Increasingly sophisticated digital networks can theoretically hook people up for both romantic/sexual relationships and other interactions, decreasing loneliness and improving quality of life. We already try to do this with our social media, though it’s a rather blunt instrument at present.

Sexbots

Certain transhumanists and others look optimistically to sexbots, predicting physical and mental health benefits. Yet, in addition to raising questions about objectification, sexbots are unlikely be able to convey the social status associated with romantic/sexual desirability. While some may eventually function as romantic partners, this wouldn’t be equivalent to human partnership unless they had human-level or above artificial intelligence and autonomy like a human. Sexbots might well alleviate the pain of unfuckability by human standards, but it’s unlikely they would completely resolve the problem. As Sherry Turkle and company argue, the prospect of sex and love with robots has the potential pitfalls. I find those concerns mostly misguided but relevant here.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality offers a number of benefits for sexual/romantic relations, whether between humans or between humans and AIs. VR makes change ones appearance trivial, eliminating that aspect of the genetic lottery. By transcending geographic limitations, VR in conjunction with matching algorithms could dramatically increase the odds of meaningful connections.

VR sexbots have the same issues as physical ones, albeit with perhaps less stigma. With or without sexual/romantic elements, VR worlds could simulate social status, as games do today. Losing oneself in VR entails similar philosophical challenges to transforming one’s psyche as described above.

Conclusion

None of the above technologies can replace the political and social project of creating a more accessible and fulfilling society, but they can assist in that project and make life more livable in any case.

Pride’s Queer Future June 27, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Feminism, Queer politics, Science Fiction, Transhumanism.
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The year is 2020.

Pride events across the United States have banned cops, corporations, Zionism, & U.S. nationalism.

Talking heads rail about intersectionality as masked queers loot banks and big-box stores.

Cishet white men approach with caution, assuming the SJW mob will rip them apart. Instead they find themselves caught up in the revolutionary fervor.

Semi-autonomous remote-controlled drones assault police cars and stations massive numbers.

Law and order breaks down. It’s chaos in the streets.

New worlds are forming.

Remembering the Pulse Massacre in 2017 June 12, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Queer politics.
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I’m sharing this 2016 post from Ali A. Rizvi to highlight how ex-Muslim voices matter and how all Abrahamic scriptures are antiqueer. Various prominent ex-Muslims offer of a compelling critique of the Islamophobia discourse that appears dominant on the Western left at present. We anarchists in particular need to do better in this regard. It’s a difficult issue to navigate and ex-Muslims like Rizvi and Sarah Haider have meh politics overall, but fundamentally our sympathies should lie with apostates, blasphemers, and so on.

Pride 2017 June 10, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Queer politics.
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I took this during Pride events in Albuquerque today. Let’s simultaneously oppose antiqueer violence, borders, and xenophobia.

In Washington, DC, radicals disrupted the Pride celebration with banners calling attention to various forms of oppression: the police, colonial oil pipelines on Native land, and deportations.

I’d love to see more actions like this. I wish there’d been one here. There was an alternative Pride event calling out the main Pride event for being corporate. A few radicals marched in the main one, myself included, but it wasn’t like what went down in DC. We didn’t disrupt. It’s usually correct to disrupt.

Unlike last year, I refrained from disruption. I put up anarchist stickers and mostly kept my mouth shut. Despite all the hype around Donald Trump’s election and what you’d hope would be an era of intensified resistance, life goes on. Everyday concerns remain dominant for most of us.

Here’s to ever-increasing queerness in all the senses of the word. Expect the future to be even weirder than the present. If you think we’re freaks now, just wait!

Against All Authority May 14, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Ageism, Anarchism, Feminism, Queer politics.
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¡Sin excepciones! No exceptions. Regardless of sentimentality, freedom means unmaking parental authority along with all other social hierarchies. The nuclear family serves as a practical and conceptual basis for oppression. I remain drawn to Shulamith Firestone’s thought in part because of how ey identified this dynamic.

Transgender Day of Visibility March 31, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Queer politics, Transhumanism.
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Here’s to the struggle against gender norms and for universal morphological freedom. Despite what some radfems claim, we ain’t even near peak trans. The future promises to be weirder than any of us can imagine.

Milo Yiannopoulos Manages to Be a Dangerous Faggot After All February 21, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Ageism, Anarchism, Feminism, Queer politics.
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In fact, it turned out that there was nothing ‘dangerous’ at all in picking on women and refugees. People will pay you good money for that. The dangerous ideas are the ones they don’t pay you for, the ones that don’t get you on HBO. You’re actually dangerous when you do what Yiannopoulos did in the ‘pedophile’ tapes: defend society’s most hated outcasts, and tell the truth about the complexities of gay men’s sexuality. You’re dangerous when you stick up for those on the fringes rather than kicking them. There’s nothing courageous or edgy in bullying the despised and excluded. But it might be dangerous if you dared to empathize with them.

To all the anarchists, radicals, leftists, and so on jumping on the Milo’s-an-evil-pedophile bandwagon, I urge you to reconsider. While understandable and presumably effective in the short term, Shaun King’s the-pervert-are-power line has pernicious implications for queer revolution. Many, including anticapitalist radicals, thought the perverts were in power back at the turn of the twentieth century. They understood queerness as a bourgeois degeneracy. We don’t need to revive that discourse. Yiannopoulos’s comments about intergenerational sexual encounters are problematic, as the whole subject is, but not nearly as oppressive as countless other things ey’s said. It’s utterly telling that it’s the pedophile charge that has finally damaged Yiannopoulos’s brand. (Well, for the moment. The long-term effects remain uncertain.)

Caution about the discourse of perversity and perverts matters especially for us transhumanists. Queers whose form of queerness has become at least more or less normalized in social-justice circles might perceive no need to worry about the whole pedophilia narrative and its use here. That’s the situation I occupy; despite the “your a fucking pedo” allegation from /r/Anarchism, I’ve no direct personal stake in the matter. I vividly recall the subordination of childhood and youth, but it’s been well over a decade since I’ve experienced it.

But queerness ain’t static. As Gloria Anzaldúa indicated, the demonized groups have shifted with time and will continue to. If technological innovation continues as expected and hoped, we can bet on future moral panics over bodily modification, intimate relations, and so on. Human sexual experiences with robots immediately jumps to mind, for example. We transhumanists have to rigorously attend to the process of queering and othering if we want to figure out ethical arrangement for coming technological realities. Merely accepting dominant lefty norms about who’s the real pervert won’t cut it.

Youth Liberation and Pedophilia February 20, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Ageism, Anarchism, Queer politics, Science Fiction, Technology, Transhumanism.
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So for some reason, leftists have recently decided to highlight Milo Yiannopoulos’s supposed support of pedophilia as part of the case against em. The key piece of evidence comes from an interview in which Yiannopoulos refused to categorize eir own teenage sexual experiences with older folks as abuse. If we denounce people who define their own experiences against the dominate narrative as evil pedophiles, we’re foreclosing discussion on a complicated topic and engaging in exactly the sort of witch-hunt mentality Yiannopoulos and others right-wing notables (hypocritically) decry.

Under the current ageist regime that treats younger folks as subhuman, young-older sexual encounters involve unequal power dynamics and tend strongly toward abuse that leaves enduring psychic scars. I don’t dispute that. However, at the same time, erasing the agency of folks who’ve experienced young-older sexual encounters supports the dehumanization of younger people. It implies that folks below a certain age don’t know what’s good for them, that we older folks should control them by force.

I hold firm to the notion that younger folks are people, not subhumans. I remember being in that situation. I hated such subordination and will never consider it just. You can fight abusive young-old sexual relationships without supporting ageism. Addressing the matter of pedophilia becomes more challenging when you recognize the humanity of younger folks, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from this recognition.

Ultimately, it’s possible that smashing ageism and the nuclear family would render young-older sexual relationships unremarkable. That’s the ambitious and disturbing future vision Shulamith Firestone presented in The Dialectic of Sex. I don’t know that that’s correct, but it’s worth contemplating without knee-jerk allegations of pedophilia.

While youth liberation has limited presence at the moment, I suspect technological developments will increasingly prompt challenges to the ageist status quo. For example, what happens when genetic and/or cybernetic enhancement leads to more and more young people (teens, preteens, etc.) demonstrating greater conformity to the norms of maturity and rationality than much older folks? I suspect they’ll demand respect. I hope society gives it to them when the time comes.

(For how this topic relates to queerness and antiqueerness broadly, I recommend Gayle Rubin’s now classic piece. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but the essay remains provocative and insightful.)

Update: And once again I’m banned from /r/Anarchism. Ageism is apparently official sub policy. Argue for youth liberation, get banned.

Second Update: Yiannopoulos is now stressing eir anti-pedophile credentials and taking the stance that humor is the way ey copes with what ey describe as victimization (apparently from the priest). Yiannopoulos at same time speaks positively a ten-year relationship ey began at age seventeen with a twenty-nine-year-old. For a thoughtful treatment of the overall issue, I recommend this exchange between Samuel Delany and Will Shetterly.

Third Update: The moral panic over Yiannopoulos’s supposed support for pedophilia got eir book cancelled. Left and sundry are unsurprisingly celebrating this. It figures that Simon & Schuster have no problem publishing somebody who cheerleads  for Donald Trump and for deporting every last undocumented immigrant, but gay pedophilia allegations force a cancellations. Why is it so often only the sex scandals that matter?

Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commuted January 17, 2017

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Queer politics, Technology.
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This is a victory for freedom, justice, political prisoners queer/trans revolution, etc. The credit goes to all the folks who’ve support Chelsea Manning, not to Barack Obama. Let’s hope Obama does the same for countless other political prisoners in the next couple of days. Let’s hope to soon become so crafty that they can’t catch us and imprison us at all.

Thinking Safety after the Orlando Massacre June 12, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Feminism, Queer politics, Technology, Transhumanism.
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“Freedom is never very safe.”

Shevek says this toward the end of Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Tyranny isn’t safe either. In the wake of today’s deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we need to remember these principles.

Reactions to this atrocity follow predictable lines. Many progressives and leftists are warning about Islamophobia. Most liberals, along with some progressives and leftists, are blaming the National Rifle Association and encouraging state gun control. Some radicals are promoting armed self-defense for queers. Most conservatives and some liberals are blaming Muslims and beating the drums of war. Some antiqueer bigots are hailing the attack as God’s work, divine retribution.

Without question, the massacre highlights the horror of antiqueer bigotry. As with any mass killing, it stands out as a human tragedy, a site of spectacularly intense pain and loss. Because of this, the impulse toward mourning feels intuitive.

That’s not the approach I take here. Instead of prayers, I offer analysis.

While recognizing the appropriateness of mourning, I challenge it as an imperative. None of us can meaningfully mourn all of the death and suffering that happens in the world each day. Various valid responses exist, including reflection, looking at the big picture. It doesn’t necessarily make any sense that massacres like this attract more outrage than the structural violence that kills people more slowly, spread out across time and space. It doesn’t necessarily make sense that we mourn the massacres that the media tells us to and not others.

My reaction as a queer transhumanist anarchist adheres to its own predictable line: opposition to authoritarian security measures enforced through violence, whether controls on Muslim immigrants or on firearms. I likewise advocate criticism of Islam and other Abrahamic religions as part of the project of smashing straightness.

As I’ve previously written, state gun control has a racist history and enhances the power of elites. Moreover, as William Gillis argues, state regulation based on safety fundamentally conflicts with technological innovation. I don’t completely agree with Gillis, but find the broad sweep of the argument compelling.

First the state bans assault rifles; next it bans all 3D printers that could conceivably produce assault rifles. (How do they enforce these bans? With assault rifles, of course.) The logic of banning guns, of safety via state violence, tends toward totalitarian dystopia. It’s the logic of the cop wearing a pistol and body armor who’ll shoot you for possessing a knife. Perhaps enlightened progressives could somehow strike the right balance and allow for technological transformation while still reducing the odds of individuals going on murderous rampages.

I doubt it. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take. State gun control is manifestly hypocritical, unethical, and corrosive to freedom. The long-term dangers are overwhelming.

I do support nonstate efforts to reduce risks that come from the means of destruction, including firearms. Safety stands out as a hard problem for transhumanism. I plan to cover this in more detail in the future. For now, suffice it to say that I don’t want a nuclear bomb in every pot.

Banning guns is misguided. Further restricting Muslim immigration and targeting Muslims with increased security-based harassment stand out as far worse, nightmarishly oppressive prospects. Such prejudice and control run wholly counter to the principle of freedom.

With that said, despite how homonationalists tell me to join ISIS when I denounce the United States, I don’t buy into the mainstream narrative around Islamophobia. Islam, like other Abrahamic religions, contains endless oppressive elements. I don’t think there’s enough positive there to be worth salvaging, although I hold limited sympathy for Muslims/Christians/Jews/etc. who cultivate the best aspects of their religions.

I oppose prejudice against Muslims because region and culture determine religious identity more than adherence to dogma, and because anti-Muslim sentiment in the West primarily comes from imperialists, racists, and xenophobes. We should criticize and fight back those who preach oppression based on any religion or any other basis. This includes Islam.

Ultimately, I’m on the side of the apostates and blasphemers. Death to all domination!