Aug 152012

Continuing from my last post on working with the human sex drive, describing an Orthodox belief that one should be attracted to one’s mate and no one else.


I’d said such selective mental engineering is currently in the realm of magic. It is interesting to consider if we should encourage this once we do have the ability to self-edit at that level. What would be the benefits of such a mental architecture?

The first obvious benefit is that it would free up more time and energy for non-mating pursuits. Apocryphally, Nicola Tesla never pursued women because it would take too much time from his scientific work. I can’t even begin to describe how much more time I had for other work before I met my girlfriend. But redirecting sexual attention to only one partner doesn’t seem to impact this very dramatically, as mating activity seems to follow the familiar 80/20 Rule – 80% of the time is spent on 20% of the work (or in this case, 80% of the time is spent on the primary partner). So if increased productive time is the goal, it’d be far more efficient to remove the sex drive altogether.

The second obvious benefit is in providing a stable single-couple partnership to raise children. I suppose more traditionally-minded people may take this approach when they decide to have children, but I think they’re short-changing themselves. There doesn’t seem to be any reason that an open couple can’t provide and care for children just as well as a closed couple, so there isn’t any inherent reason to strip out the ability to be attracted to others. (In disclosure, I don’t have children of my own. This is based on observation of child-having open couples.)

As the primary function of sex seems to be in creating strong emotion bonds between people, the best (and perhaps only good) reason I can imagine to re-work the sex drive in that way is to form a very strong two-person unit to accomplish a long-term goal that is best executed in two-person teams. The only thing that comes to mind immediately is sniper groups. I see this being used much more frequently in isolated small units that need to cooperate well and trust each other strongly, such as astronauts on long missions or start-up companies. Perhaps the em-teams Robin Hanson postulates. This is not as narrowly focused as the two-person binding originally postulated, but it seems the most practical application of this sort of mental editing.

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