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If you could choose your appearance

Imagine you could freely change how you look, by such things like cosmetic surgery, genetic engineering, transferring your soul into another body, living in a simulated cosmos and so on.

What would you like to be?

For example, you could get a 50 cm biceps without spending a second at the gym or choose to become like… Batman.

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I have no particular interest in impressing people. I’d be happy enough just to have a body that would keep the hell out of my own way. I’ve spent most of my life chronically ill and have been compelled to live alone in the New Mexico desert where there is little prospect of work, no chance of support for my various projects, and no social life.

But I think this capability may prove most important in a functional context, space in particular. The prospects for those grandiose space habitats we imagined in the '70s and '80s are quite poor. The emergence of AI is itself likely to preclude the economic reasons for those to ever exist --or for that matter the gigantic manned rockets the Willy Wonka oligarchs of New Space envision. We will soon be able to manage any space activity we can imagine from the comfort of a home office on Earth, which will produce an entrepreneurial boom to rival the IT boom, but will probably not result in a lot of jobs physically out there.

Ultimately, there is no practical need for human beings in space. If it becomes common, it will be as a lifestyle choice based on some model of The Good Life there and thus will have to be realized at extremely low cost to become mainstream --leveraged by that machine capability. And so the option to live in space is very likely to depend on an option for clinical augmentation to overcome the health hazards there or the full transhuman option --as travel by telecommunications is the fastest, cheapest, safest, and most convenient means of space travel possible. The mind that can travel by that means will rule the future in space.

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If the world population continues to increase, space colonization is likely going to become very important.

This is a popular rationale for space colonization, but the carrying capacity of the Earth remains a long way from its theoretical limits. Most of the problems people blame on overpopulation are problems of the market economy and political mismanagement. It’s just the latest way of diverting blame to the poor and brown people and their supposedly animalistic compulsions. Even given existing technology, world population growth is expected to plateau in the next 50 years --as long as we can restrain western culture’s perverse inclination to keep rationalizing poverty. Poverty and poor healthcare are the primary accelerants of population growth --because the poor tend to see children as their only form of social security and high infant mortality rates compel people to ‘hedge their bet’. The more developed societies already see negative population growth --aging populations-- because they keep infant mortality low, keep people healthy longer so their phase of economic productivity is longer and their attempts at child-rearing are later in life, and they create institutions and systems that let people rely on the state and their savings in their old age while at the same time steadily increasing the cost of raising children.

If you anticipate the technology to facilitate space colonization, you are also anticipating the technology that will increase sustainable carrying capacity on Earth. Essentially, learning to live in space means learning to go from dirt, rock, and sunlight to a middle-class standard of living using machines on the scale of home appliances. So there’s almost nothing about life right on Earth that capability would not change. That itself is a more important motivation for pursuing space settlement --as a way to accelerate that development-- than any of the rationalizations usually proposed. Learning to live in space is learning to live more sustainably on Earth --without the benign habitat Mother Nature coddles us with here.

Ultimately, a culture with the means to radically extend human lifespan will certainly face a population issue --or more of a conflict of environmental sustainability. People simply won’t die very often and so, no matter how low the birth rates, there will be growth. One could certainly evolve the Earth into a perfectly comfortable ‘ecumenopolis’, but would we as a society accept that wholesale sacrifice of the natural environment?

But by the time we reach that far-off point transhumanist lifestyle options may be common. If the older generations are mostly transhuman, they would have the option to settle, as artilects living in virtual habitats (VRcos), the inaccessible regions of the Earth --the deep interior-- as well as the interiors of all the natural bodies of the solar system without the contrivance of grand space colonies with their elaborate organic life support and costly man-rated spacecraft. Earth could comfortably be home to trillions while leaving its entire surface to one vast nature reserve. This is why it’s often suggested that one solution to the Fermi Paradox is that advanced civilizations ‘digitize’, retreat into virtual habitats, and thus become harder to detect for lack of their visible activity.

What I think is overlooked in space futurism is how much the bottom line actually rules. I think Space Race propaganda created false expectations about what governments can and will actually do. As long as we live in a culture dominated by a market economy, no significant space development is ever going to be accomplished unless it fits within that context. The bottom-line will-out, in space as on Earth. The profit motive is its only motive and whatever is the cheapest way of doing things out there is likely to become the convention by default. If that favors machine intelligence over organic life, that’s how it will go. None of those other rationalizations mean squat on Wall Street.

This may change with the advent of a post-scarcity culture that pushes society’s general concerns up Maslow’s Pyramid and affords an increasing number of small groups and individuals a new and vast industrial capability. When the general public --not just a few eccentric billionaires-- can pursue going to and homesteading in space as a hobby it will be a mainstream option. But, as I said, those people won’t be going there for any practical reasons. They will be going there for a lifestyle, and it will have to be an attractive lifestyle.

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Generally speaking, I don’t talk much about my specific ideas about what I want to be, kinda personal. In general, I’m absolutely stunned by how little people seem to be interested in actually developing transhumanist technologies (other than uploading…) It frustrates me to no end that transhumanism seems to be completely dead as a movement. I haven’t seen any activity from anywhere in transhumanism recently. The last activity I saw was from the uploaders back in the 2015 time-frame, since then the movement has been completely dead. =(((( Maybe everyone jumped to a completely different forum and never bothered to leave a link to the new site (or moved to a closed platform…) I just don’t know. =((((

I have a whitepaper about fully immersive VR in process but I’ve been too out of it to even work on that over the last few weeks. =\

I think we need to approach this topic from two perspectives: Functionality and aesthetics. Our bodies are the interface between our minds and our environment. The functionality of a body depends on its requirements. How do I want to interact with the environment around me? Since most of the environments we live in were shaped for humans, having a human-like body should be a sensible choice in most respects.

Functionality

Different environments

We could decide in the future to adapt our bodies to the environment, rather than the other way around – or more realistically settle for something in between. Living on a space ship poses quite different requirements than living on a planet. Dealing with microgravity would probably lead to bodies that look at least somewhat different from regular human bodies. The ability to do spacewalks without a suit would also be a neat plus. Robotic bodies with integrated propulsion and cooling systems would be quite suitable for that.

If people want to live under water, they should eventually look more like dolphins, sharks, or squids.

Living in large vertical cities might be more convenient, if people had strong, powerful wings.

Durability, resilience, and longevity

Having a body that can repair itself effectively would be a huge advantage. Our current bodies can recover from wounds, but can’t regenerate whole limbs. We can deal with most germs, but some of them may kill or cripple us. Upgrading our bodies, so that they can deal with all these problems would be a big advantage. Also, bodies that don’t age would obviously solve a lot of problems. Having bodies that embed titanium or carbon nanotubes into the bones on their own would be quite advantageous.

Sensory faculties

Bodies with better senses would be interesting. The ability to perceive electric or magnetic fields, or electromagnetic waves of various frequencies naturally, would be quite useful in many situations. Seeing light in different frequency ranges would also be quite nice – especially in the heat vision range of infrared. Being able to smell concentrations of various gasses exactly would also be advantageous. Are those car exhausts really dangerous for you? Currently not sure, but if you can smell their composition, you would probably get a more intuitive understanding of that (though we will hopefully mostly use electric vehicles, before we develop the technology to improve our sense of smell like that).

Optimized forms of metabolism

It would be quite useful to recharge your body energy via an electrical outlet. Electric energy is cheap compared to food. Some bacteria do have the ability to sustain themselves on electricity alone!

Alternatively, being able to digest cellulose efficiently would also be quite useful.

Improving cellular metabolic pathways would be quite awesome, because doing more with less energy is always a good idea, wherever possible.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics are subjective and inter-subjective. While people have their own preferences, the cultures surrounding them, will have their own norms and preferences. Satisfying either one will become increasingly simple, as our ability to create and modify customized bodies improves. But satisfying both at the same time, will remain a challenge. What if I want to look like a quadcopter drone, but my neighbors complain about the noise? What if society expects from me to have a body with four arms (because that makes me a more productive member of society), but I find them aesthetically displeasing? We won’t solve such problems with technology alone.

Each culture will need to develop its own rules and norms to deal with the possibility that some people have prosthetic limbs that can be effectively used as weapons, or want to become slithering blobs that secrete sticky slime wherever they go.

Having a population with high morphological diversity may come with lots of challenges. But the other extreme would also be problematic. A population consisting of people looking like 20 year old white men dressed in uniform business suits would reduce frictions, but may suffocate creativity and freedom of expression.

Self-expression

The body you present to the world also may express something about yourself. In a future in which not only humans are citizens, but also artificial intelligences, uplifted animals, and possibly extraterrestrial species, would look quite different than the one we currently live in. These groups will probably have quite distinct aesthetic preferences. Robotic bodies would probably be more popular among AIs, and uplifted animals may want to switch to therianthrope bodies:

Mixed bodies would be the next step. Human, animal, machine, alien, and custom parts will be used more and more by the different parts of the population. There will probably be many trends based on incorporating or mixing such parts. Eventually, wholly new customized body morphologies will be created. Dragons and other fantastic beasts may roam the colonized worlds. And our imagination in the future will give birth to even more fantastic body forms that people can choose from.

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Well, and THIS is among the things why I dislike furries.

Sorry, but “furry” and I just don’t get along.

i think, i would choose no appearence at all. beeing invisible must be a strange and powerfull state.
a solipsistic existence.
esse est percipi : to be means to be percived.
having no appearence like a ghost in a shell
thats why we are here, to be perceived :wink:
so you are asking realiter as what kind of shape (frame) you want to be perceived.
well. do you want to be beloved or to be dreaded?
do you want to be a big white shark in the ocean or a koala in a eucalyptus tree?

perhaps i would look like my dream-woman, so i could feel very narcistic every time looking my reflection in a looking glass :blush:

That’s autogynephilia.

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I guess I’d still want to look like a human. I’d be very interested in changing the functional aspects of my body (more physical strength, endurance, intelligence, longevity, metabolic efficiency etc.), not so much my appearance.

Well food isn’t really so much of an energy sources for out bodies (it would probably be more acurate to say that oxygen is the energy source) as much as it is a a source of organic molecules. So, best case scenario, what you can get is some sort of analog to photosynthesis that would allow us to make essential organic molecules out of inorganic molecules.

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Specific reason needed.

First and foremost I want to have any effect on this world. That usually requires breaking some eggs, so to speak. Being loved by everyone is neither a worthwhile, nor an obtainable goal. Unless you can magically manipulate everyone to love you. That ability would make you the most dangerous being there is.

What would your dream-woman think about that?

Good point. Even if you could recycle all molecules of your body using some kind of electric metabolism or photosynthesis, you would still need a way to replace molecules you lose by injuries, for example. But if your body is robust enough that should happen very rarely. In that case, a couple of injections should be enough.

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The art style, that is really creepy to me. Cartoons and comics are my passion, I draw them myself and like to use animal characters too, but I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to drawing them, that means e.g. characters with oversized heads and pie-shaped eyes. Take the Disney Duck universe as the best example. Characters like in Zootopia, who retain some of the features of their animal species are okay too.
Yet, realistically drawn human bodies with naturalistic proportions and then animal heads, who may even use human facial expressions, creepy me out. I guess that is the “uncanny valley effect”.

She couldn’t think anything without being “transphobic” nowadays.

my dream-woman in this case will be my robot-avatar, the kybernetical part of me, in which i will transfer my mind after the failure of the organical part of me.
as a cyborg i can transform my shape ad libitum.
is it imaginable to habitate more than one body at time? like synchronised devices in a cloud.

I would make myself look like a 12-year-old three feet tall cartoon duckess from Calisota.