Monday, January 14, 2008

Overcoming gender

We are, often at a subconscious level, working to become postbiological. Most of us are in denial about or in opposition to this, but the level of control that we seek over our minds and bodies is in tune with this goal. We are perpetually working to transcend our biological vulnerabilities and constraints. This will eventually get us to the oft spoken and quasi-mythological posthuman condition.

Most efforts to achieve a postgendered state have largely focused on non-biological solutions, namely through social, educational, political and economic reform. While environmental strategies can be effective and important in their own right, they will continue to experience limited results on account of their inability to address the root of the problem: human biology.

As with most of George Dvorksy's transhumanist concerns, I can appreciate his argument for postgenderism on an abstract level. The idea has an elusive appeal, perhaps because it insinuates that, in jettisoning the last shred of our biological heritage, we'll become somehow wiser in the process. And I'd be among the first to revel in such a democratized future milieu. Having accepted that emotions themselves are biological processes (Dvorsky might well consider them "diseases" since they rely on an obstinate meat-based substrate), I wouldn't be particularly saddened to see the concept of gender gradually erased.

But has it occurred to Dvorksy that postgenderism, like any social or technological sea-change, is freighted with the potential for misuse? Rather than explore the idea, Dvorsky seems content with issuing what amounts to a shrill rallying cry. It's a bit like the seemingly ubiquitous advertising blimps in "Blade Runner," forever hyping "a new world of opportunity and adventure" to the jaded city-dwellers below. And about as convincing.

Also: "Cyborgs"? Or just dorks?


dad2059 said...

I can't fault George's treatise on "beyond gender" much because my breeder function has since passed me by.

This would work in the context of Niven's "Pak Protector" approach I think only because young people would be loath to give up whatever sex of their choice happens to be.

People like me who are already in the grandparent stage would be the ones likely to do this IMO.

Anonymous said...

Mother Nature is a lot like the mythical hydra: lop off one of her heads and several more immediately grow in its place. It would be wise not to tamper too much with the perceived "problems" she brings. Global warming and all the other environmental issues we're now facing ought to have taught us that much.

Anonymous said...

On the question cyborg or dork, I don't know, but I had a thought that these guys would make for quite a sight at a job interview.