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Physiques of the Future - Custom Bodies and Multiple Selves

Posted: Sun, January 27, 2013 | By: Terra Bosart

In the Tesarem Foundation survey of 818 participating Transhumanists, it was found that 33.7% of respondents found inhabiting multiple selves as a potentially viable option of achieving a type of immortality. 

A noteworthy percentage which, alongside the 55% of respondents who would choose to self design their newer bodies, indicates a certain degree of imagination and creativity on the part of more than half of those considering their newer body designs.

The prospect of body design will take some serious consideration, in both the designing of “off the shelf” models, as well as more personalized and creative applications. Into the future we will see the artistic variety of potentials, if not the practicality, of the creative spirit at work in crafting new aesthetic qualities with regard to the human form.

As we begin to enter a period of time where customized bodies becomes more plausible, the boundaries of our imaginations will become more apparent to us. Our ever more connected world is exposing us to new concepts on a near daily basis, for those who choose to be extremely aware of them. While our perceptions of what is realistic depends upon the information we expose ourselves to, we will soon find that even our most cherished dreams to be potentially paltry compared to vast multitude of variables of what will be possible.

Even in our exposure to new concepts and information, certain themes and ideas may carry over from before as a residual self identity. As with anyone who would consider deeply the ability to customize their body, it is possible that they already have an image of what it would look like in their minds eye. Certain details may change, as new technologies make themselves available for considerations, but the notion of the ‘inner self’ may not necessarily follow such a change.

Custom Bodies:

Over the years, I have speculated upon the characteristics I should find preferable, should body customization become a tangible reality. Comparing notes with other like minds, results in subtle alterations of bodily abilities, but not of its form or general appearance. While there may be those who might prefer numerous “body-swapping” choices and opportunities, I would hazard to guess it still more likely that the majority will invest in one specific physical avatar. Likely humanoid in appearance. Though admittedly, it’s likely there will be those who gravitate toward the more strange and unfamiliar, for practicality in certain respects, or simply for the sake of it.

There is no reason why a custom body should not be glamorous as well as practical, if one were considering a mechanical body over the biological body’s limitations. Indeed, this will likely be a primary consideration for the average consumer, as we are a very visually oriented species. Notions of beauty will likely change, as people begin to cultivate and carve out their own niches of pseudo-beauty or alterna-pretty, to differentiate their ideals from others. Diversity is the name of the game, as segments of humanity will likely gravitate toward vastly differing concepts of ideal beauty. In customized bodies, they shall find a potential 21st century answer, and there may be no such thing as an average consumer.

With such an open-ended subject matter, the word “customized” takes on a much more detailed definition, as we are not talking about adjusting the preferences menu to our personal computer. Such an analogy would limit the experiential abilities of the end result, which would be fine as an example of a basic sales floor model of a prosthetic body. A concept of “pure-customized” bodies may be likened to the building an operating system from the ground up, after carefully selecting hardware for full autonomy. 

Those who have read my previous writing, know I have no fear of admitting a personal desire for a dual gendered body with the reproductive associations of both sexes, either in a biological or technological application. Though this describes only the form and function of one section of the body. It says nothing of visual filters to enable seeing any number of light spectrums, or new legs that would render the need for a car obsolete, and so on. The personal customization possibilities become as endless as the imagination of the designer. Or, as it may become more likely, the imagination of the individual. 

As the engineering applications of more advanced technology becomes more available, in both price and abilities, such considerations may be merely the surface glaze of what many may eventually come to seen as a second renaissance of human ingenuity and dream crafting.

The individuals right to choose might extend to their prosthetic body, provided there is a human consciousness attached to it. A person may come to mean any number of differing definitions or, perhaps eventually, a community of definitions.

Multiple Selves:

When I first considered the concept of multiple selves, my initial imagination thought of a consciousness originating from a single original body, which could live in alternate bodies one at a time. Perhaps these multiple bodies could be contained in closeted storage units for remote access at designated times. “Coming out of the closet” may take on new meaning, as people slowly introduce their more imaginative customizations into public view, exposing a physical avatar of self identification. 

A person might have a large closet of their two or three favorite models of custom body, choosing between them one at a time, as the main adversary in the 2009 film Surrogates. 

Reflecting on my personal perspective that this might be somewhat paltry or short sighted, and that the boundaries of ones imagination could be expanded upon, I began to speculate upon how to push the envelope of this topic.

Assuming it would be possible to transfer a consciousness from body to body on a temporary or permanent basis, I began to consider the potential for copying a consciousness, to exist in multiple bodies simultaneously. After all, in being able to transfer the data from one hard drive to another, there shouldn’t be any loss of identity in the process. Once that conscious data can be transferred, like copying an operating system, it could be hypothetically copied across multiple platforms. The hardware might change for various needs, but the software of the operating system would remain the same, changing only to meet the challenges of new input. In a way, we do this everyday upon waking up, using our older models of reality to come to grips with new experiences. Perhaps, later re-integration of the separate experiences of multiple bodies, effectively resembling a community of one. 

There will likely be those who will have multiple forms, like those who have multiple cars today. This is not to compare a copied consciousness to a mere object, as an automobile can be considered an extension of ones self. Preferential decisions that could change the course of daily events, such as whether to take the Mazda or the pick-up truck to work today, would take on an altered significance. Notions of practicality in either choice, as the Mazda might be prettier and more fun to drive, while the truck might have more hauling power. Similar considerations might very well be made with regard to which body to take out of the house, to say nothing of the initial purchase of a prosthetic body. 

A primary interest of mine in the subject of having multiple bodies with copies of the original conscious data across them, is in monitoring the growth of personalities based upon the experiences of the individuals. In a similar manner that all humans have approximate starting conditions, in the standard cell spitting and gestation process, which results in vastly different people over time. 

The combination of nature and nurture, resulting what we call a personality. Likewise, the already developed psychological characteristics of a copied consciousness across multiple bodies, may be a fascinating experiment in how we compartmentalize our styles of behavior in a given environment. To have a literal conversation with multiple versions of self identification in real time would be a novel way to learn about oneself by observation of another.

I do not find that the individual should be constrained to a single frame of reference, as this is more for the convenience of those outside of the self, not necessarily for the individual. My concept of self is not limited by such constraints, and bumping up against boundaries becomes a daily occurrence in navigating the social requirements of a given interaction. We already augment our behavior for required circumstances, and I see no reason why such augmentations will not eventually be physical as well.

In the scenario of multiple selves existing in multiple bodies, the ramifications take on an existential quality rather quickly, as we are forced to ask the questions related to what makes us human and how do we define that from here on out. In more materialist terms, the answer is rather simple in that what it means to be human is up to our own interpretation. Similar to the meaning of our lives is, in what we choose the meaning of our lives, to be.


Ohwwwww yum

By Khannea on Jan 27, 2013 at 2:44pm

But what happens with multiple bodies with separate copies of the one personality after awhile?
What if they begin to split away with the different life experiences that they live with each day?

By Darren Oliver on Jan 27, 2013 at 11:04pm

@ Darren
The bodies would have to be in constant communication so that they could each act as multiple hemispheres of the brain rather than Hollywood clones.

On the subject of designer bodies, I am planning for an anthropomorphic Spinosaurus aegyptiacus to start, but once mind uploading is possible, I plan to go for the multiple bodies.

Thousands of years later, whenever post scarcity is in effect, Maybe I’ll make myself into a planet, just to do tons of “SCIENCE!”.

On that note, it seems to me like a great deal of transhumanists only discuss near future rather than far future subjects.

By ZombiezuRFER on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:46am

Ghost Dubbing..  this will at least take decades to develop… oh and that fancy “everybody designs his own physical avatar” sounds sweet of course, even though many would walk around like shit (note: not everybody got sense for aesthetics), but it won’t be affordable for the middle-class in this century.
It’s funny to think about it and fantasize, but it will stay fantasizing for a long time.

By Number 46175 on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:33am

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