Thoughts on Cyber Muses

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright September 2012


One of the big challenges facing human beings as the GNR revolution progresses is staying relevant -- what are people going to do? (GNR = Genetics, Nanotechnology and Robotics/Artificial Intelligence)

One cynical but obvious answer is, "Not much. The robots will be taking care of everything."

There will be a lot of truth to this. It's likely that much of humanity will evolve into the role of becoming some kind of reality show for people and cybers, and it will be cybers who actually manage 90% of Earth's material and service resources. The cybers will extract the energy (material) and drive the cars (service). For many humans their main role in the community will be to be entertained -- by themselves, other humans and cybers.

(Note: In this essay I presume that humanity's population will start declining after 2050 because people will be too busy doing other things to have lots of kids. And I further presume that because of all the GNR advances, productivity -- the efficient making and doing of stuff -- will be dramatically enhanced as well. As a result those that live in the 2080's and beyond will not be stressed by Malthusian-style resource exhaustion. In terms of what is available for material and service comfort, it will be a comfortable place to live. But because of human nature people will still find things to get seriously worried about. I write about this kind of future in my book Child Champs.)

Those humans who make the effort to stay productive and change-the-world ambitious in this world of the future will be in the minority. But they may get some surprising help from the cyber community: The men may get cyber Muses, or Taj Mahal Girls, as I call them. (Another note: If there is a female equivalent, it will have a different nature. This is an area where male and female thinking differ, and I haven't explored what the female equivalent will be like.)

Taj Mahal Girls is what this essay is about.

Being Deeply Inspired

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She inspired him to build this great work. I, too, have been deeply inspired at times by a woman I was meeting, and that wondrous, life-changing feeling is now something I call the Taj Mahal Effect.

The first time for me was caused by the first girl I dated. We met early in my senior year in high school and my romantic feelings towards her inspired me to spend time on my homework, and that boosted my GPA by a full grade point. It was impressive inspiration! My parents and college advisor were eternally grateful. Other than that wondrous accomplishment though, not much came of that relation. We parted ways as I went on to college and the inspiration faded.

At college and throughout life thereafter I met many other women. Many I got attracted to and became very interested in, but only once in a while would one also kindle the Taj Mahal Effect -- in addition to being someone I was attracted to, they would also fire my Accomplishment Muse and I would labor successfully at some "great work" that I was working on at the same time I was seeing them.

In sum, this didn't happen often and when it would happen was as unpredictable as love, but it was a powerful effect -- I got things done under its effect that would not have been accomplished otherwise. I don't think I'm alone: Numerous other men have given testimony to how finding the right woman put a lot of direction and accomplishment in their lives.

So, the question of this essay is: With the help of advanced cyber and advanced understanding of how humans think, can this effect be artificially stimulated and become more predictable... perhaps routine? And if it can become predictable what difference will it make to how we humans live?

Behind very great man...

Men accomplishing things in the name of a particular woman seems to be a common part of human thinking. It's the source of the proverb "Behind every great man there's a good woman." What exactly the woman provides beyond firing up a certain thinking process in the inspired man is subject to a lot of conversation. I will argue that while there is a whole lot of variety in how this effect is expressed, including a lot of variety in how the female participates. But the constant is that this effect is something going on inside the man's head, not the woman's. The woman may be active in shaping this inspiration, but just as often it is completely outside her control. (In the case of the Taj Mahal, the woman was dead.)

So the powerful part is the instinctive thinking being generated in the man -- a man under this influence is thinking a whole lot differently than when he's not under the influence. Again, I take my personal experience as an example: I didn't do more homework because my new girlfriend was quizzing me about it. The topic never came up as we were gazing into each other's eyes on a weekend date.

The point of this is that while the inspiration can come from specific and directed actions on the part of the woman, it doesn't have to be that relation. She can quiz the man and get warm and fuzzy over the answers she hears, or she can just be on his mind in some fashion, and her attention can be completely elsewhere. She can be, and often is, completely oblivious to the change she is making in a man's thinking.

Something new behind a great man?

If in the near future we try to harness this effect and make it more common and predictable, there can be several ways this Taj Mahal Girl form can be developed.

o An enhanced computer game experience

o An avatar experience -- a robot trained to stimulate

o A chemical or nanotech stimulation -- the "pill form"

o Training real life women to deliberately stroke this male instinct

The simplest and cheapest may be to enhance the computer game/chat room format. Since the 1970's computer games and chat rooms have become a big part of the lives of many people. Given how much money is spent and how much time is devoted to them, the games are producing a lot of pleasure. This means that, yes, they can be a powerful influence on how humans think.

Modified computer games can become one form of the new "good woman". Playing this new form will tweak the Taj Mahal instinct in the player, and they will get vigorously productive at making their lives better.

Note that how they make their lives better will have little to do with how they play the game. This is not something like the game "Second Life" on steroids. In Second Life the world being improved is virtual -- it's in the game. In what I'm talking about the man does not make his life better by getting immersed in the game. He plays, for maybe a few hours, it inspires him, he stops playing and goes out to do productive things in the real world for many more hours or several days. Some time later he comes back and plays again for a limited time. Again, think of dating/courting a woman in real life: a man rarely dates a woman every day of the week. Another way of looking at this format is: It's basement entertainment that's successfully urging the player to get off his fat ass, get out, and do something.

The difference between a computer game and a woman doing the brain stroking is that the computer game will take this role as a primary responsibility. If the thinking process behind this is well understood, it will monitor and tweak its play style, and it will "sacrifice" as necessary to keep the effect going.

This will be the big difference between getting a game stroke and a woman stroke. For a real life woman, stroking a man's Taj Mahal instinct is rarely the center of her life, and it's mysterious -- she has no way of knowing what she is doing that strokes it. In addition, she will have lots of other issues on her agenda, and if it's the wrong man in her eyes having a man get that excited over her can be scary or annoying rather than exciting or gratifying -- he's a freaky stalker.

However, women can be trained, and if Taj Mahal Effect becomes better understood women may be able to deliberately take on the role. The "woman form" of Taj Mahal Girl is a woman who is trained and takes as her job stimulating the Taj Mahal Effect in men. This woman is likely to be a mix of Geisha/Courtesan and therapist.

The Pill Form is likely to be the simplest and quickest to administer. But it will still require monitoring, so it will still take some infrastructure to support it.

And there can be mixing and matching of all these forms.

How will this technology evolve?

This technology can start in a couple of different ways.

o Case A: It can show up first as a surprise result from some other project. Example: a computer game is designed and while it's not much of a success as a computer game (not many people play it) some of those who do play it notice that they get a lot done in-between times. Word gets around and this is declared the first implementation of this new phenomenon. Then comes hit-and-miss experimentation to see if the effect can be duplicated, improved, or widened.

o Case B: It can be developed based on some new understanding of how the brain works. Some scientist team figures out that "stimulating region X makes men get productive" and they design a tool: A pill, something computer gamish that men can play, or a therapy regimen that trained women can put men through, and when they do region X is being stimulated. The men then go off and create great works. The experimenting in this case will be a lot more easily directed than in Case A.

In either case, the second stage is making this happen faster, better, cheaper. One of the big steps will be improving the predictability of who can benefit and who can't -- some men will be better adapted. While this stage is happening both the price and the excitement will be high. This will be a time when The Curse of Being Important will ravage this project, and so will scams preying on the hopeful.

The third stage will be trying to widen the usefulness to more people and decide how much "fairness" will play in how it gets distributed. Is it going to be seen as a form of health care for which everyone is eligible? Or is it going to be seen as something like violin playing -- something suitable for only a few people and expensive to pursue?

If the training-real-life-women path is pursued how this new process will be implemented will be a lot less mysterious. It will follow in the path of courtesans, geishas, and other women paid to entertain men throughout the ages and cultures. The most notable challenge will be distinguishing what these new therapists do from tease, sleaze and prostitution in the eyes of the other men and women of the community, and that's nothing new.

Effect on the Community: How easy, How Cheap, How Common?

How much the Taj Mahal Girl concept will effect how people live depends on three basic elements: How expensive is it to implement, how much sacrifice must be made by the man and the community, and how many men can be affected?

If this becomes cheap, comfortable, and something many men can take advantage of, the change will be dramatic. I foresee this being seen as a form of therapy and it will be seen as a health issue. Paying for it will be handled as either a health insurance issue or treated as an education issue. But, ironically, the process will also be taken for granted. It will be like the miracle of personal computing power -- who thinks about that as a miracle these days?

The more this process is expensive, requires sacrifice, and can only be used by a blessed few, the less it will effect the community... except for its legend-making abilities. The more the successful users are viewed as "rock stars" the more its influence will resemble that of Hollywood talent today.

The general effect will be that those who can be influenced will not succumb to "wasting their lives away" -- they will get out of the basement, circulate around, and do productive things.

Dark Side Issues

The first dark side issue is likely to be that these excited and motivated men have real difficulty finding fulfilling projects to work on because this is a world being mostly run by robots. This will create a lot of frustration and rage. It may be that the biggest issue in deciding whether or not to give a man TMG therapy is insuring that the recipient will have a productive, not destructive, format to let this enthusiasm loose in. This is a big issue. This person is going to DO SOMETHING! If it's not productive can be spectacularly destructive. This is something that monitoring must watch for.

If this screening is not well handled on a large scale the result is likely to resemble a social revolution ala French Revolution or the current Arab Spring. There is going to be a lot of excitement and a lot of chaos.

Sacrifices bring up the "deal with the devil" concept -- what is this person giving up to gain fortune and fame? What is the community giving up? Are they sending off their brightest and best to seek fortunes in distant lands? Will these blessed people become distant and alien from their hometown folks? Even if they still live at home? Will this end up with feelings like current 1%-99% envy?

With or without significant sacrifice, cliquishness and elitism are an issue. These men are going to think differently from the "losers" who stay in the basement or come out to get fanatic behind populist causes. This may become a case of "it's lonely at the top." or it may take on some different form.


The Taj Mahal Girl concept can become a powerful one. It is a way of keeping The Sacred Masculine alive in the post-Singularity era.

It may first appear by accident, or it can come about as the fruit of deliberate research and brain manipulation. How the manipulation can take place is quite varied, I guessing that computer gaming, avatar simulators, nanotech pills or trained women are likely prospects.

How much it will affect society will depend on how expensive it is, how much sacrifice it takes and how many people can be affected.

It is a tool, it can produce both good and bad. So its use will have to be monitored.

It feels important, so it is likely to feel a lot of Curse of Being Important Effects both as it is developed and used.


--The End--