[ExI] Will ems have two genders?

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sat May 14 02:04:33 UTC 2016

I haven't read Robin's book so I may be asking a question that was already
dealt with but let me ask anyway:

Is there a reason to expect that ems would have a male and a female gender?
We have to remember that ems are not biological, and gender may have a
purely biological origin. A final answer as to why gender exists is
elusive. Interestingly, gender is primarily a feature of multicellular
organisms. Unicellular species are usually isogamous, even the large ones.
Among multicellular organisms there is often a disconnect between the
gender as defined by gamete size and the specialized forms of reproductive
behavior we associate with gender (gender roles). Thus there are species of
fish where males exclusively take care of offspring, leaving females to
flit around in search of dutiful mates. There are species of anglerfish
where the female is big and strong while the male is tiny. There many
multicellular hermaphrodites. There are multiple mating types among
ascomycetes. And then there are the bdelloid rotifers that lack only gender
but even sex.

Thus it would appear that while sex is almost universal in the tree of life
(bdelloids are really weird), there is considerable variability in the
number and roles of genders.

So why would ems retain gender? Would they even retain sex? Sure, they are
derived from sexed and gendered humans but as the existence of furries
indicates, it doesn't take much to disrupt gender identification. I am
assuming that ems would have extensive self-modification and
offspring-design capabilities, and they would be in a highly selective
competitive environment with non-human entities, so if there are
fitness-enhancing modifications that remove or multiply gender, they would
happen promptly.

I would think there would be strong selection in favor of being able to
incorporate mind features from other entities (i.e. an analogue of sex) but
why wouldn't this happen by a simpler, non-gendered mechanism, e.g. a
guided analogue of bacterial conjugation?

What if production of offspring was contract-based, performed by specialist
ems using data from parent ems, paid for by whatever entities might have an
interest in propagating the parent ems? It would be similar to surrogate
motherhood but presumably commercialized and corporatized (American Mother
Corporation, Ltd). Would it help to combine data from multiple types of
ems, in effect having multiple genders that differ in social roles and thus
are able to give the offspring the best, specialized aspects of who they

I would guess that the presence and roles of sexes and genders in the ems
world will be contingent on local features and thus hard to predict.

A Kindle version of the book would be nice, too.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20160513/1d371cba/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list