I just finished watching an excellent movie called “Surrogates” this morning (the eighth morning I have not gotten to sleep before 4am, but who’s counting?) and I thought I would take this opportunity to explore the concept of the ideal.
For as long as humans have existed, we have striven to improve ourselves, our societies and technologies, even if only for self interest. If not for this desire we would never have created arrows, or central heating, or the microchip, or hair dye and manicures, or plastic surgery. Although the desire to be liked causes us to do all sorts of silly things from day to day, whether dressing to match our friends, speaking with different accents or acting “cool” in order to be accepted, most of us have an idea that such things do not gain us true friends, but rather a more comfortable living environment, which is usually safer, if less interesting. Most of us would prefer an environment where we were accepted for who we are, but are unwilling to accept others for all of their flaws.
Society has told us, and continues to propagate the idea that physical perfection will gain us more attention and appeal with those we want to like us. There is even a mathematical formula to calculate how attractive a person is, based on symmetry and body proportion. Despite this fact, most people still consider the concept of surgical alteration for the sake of vanity to be outrageous. Yet, we still wish we had smaller hips, thighs, flatter stomachs, larger breasts, curlier/straighter hair, fuller lips or a different nose. Most of us have wished for the body of another, or at least idly thought of liposuction or plastic surgery to get rid of a couple imperfections, although most would not act on this.
How perfect then would be a physically ideal body that requires no commitment save cost, and no physical alterations to your own body? How many of us would be able to resist the lure of the body we want, with superior strength and speed, and the minds we already possess? Thus the stage is set for surrogates, a concept all too chillingly near in the future, where humans live and feel through robotic bodies that can touch, see, hear and smell like us but keep our fragile bodies from harm. They are the perfect, symmetrical human form, but are controlled fully by humans. This concept is in the far closer future than artificial intelligence. Already we are beginning to control with our minds, and already the shell of robotic humans is taking form. Even if true robotic intelligence is never achieved, the cold, barren world of human-run supermodel robots seems all too close.
And I’m not sure any of us could resist.