May 05, 2013
Humans To Become Space Aliens

Is it really going to be necessary for people from another planet to show up for us to see people who look like they are from another species? My answer: No. Future advances in plastic surgery and genetic engineering will do it for us. As technologies for radical body alterations enable cheaper, easier, and more reliable how far will people go?

A search on what Google Images returns for "plastic surgery" returns pictures heavily weighted toward really botched and, in some cases, bizaare intended outcomes. The search "plastic surgery transformation" yields more of a mix of successful and unsuccessful changes. Justin Jedlica's many plastic surgeries demonstrate how far someone can go to create a male doll-like appearance. Other alterations are pleasing but involve large alterations in looks: Japanese girl comes out looking like a French doll. Imagine the variety of cool things Japanese girls will get done to themselves 20 years from now with advances in tissue engineering.

Imagine a woman who is a big fan of the Defiance TV show deciding to get altered to look like the Irathient warrior Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) (or Stahma Tarr for elegance). Or Trekkies could get altered to look like a Vulcan or a Klingon. Someone who (perhaps quite correctly) thinks their natural appearance is plain and uninteresting could get altered to let them pretend to be some fantasy character they identify with.

What's the most radical plastic surgery alteration you've come across? How far do you think people will take body alterations?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 May 05 11:55 AM 

coolball said at May 5, 2013 12:26 PM:

A problem that may arise is employability if the changes are too drastic and greater tolerance or laws don't intervene.

Matt said at May 5, 2013 1:36 PM:

Read John Ringo's book "There Will Be Dragons" for an interesting take on how far humanity will go in terms of "body diversification" in the future. And yes, there will be dragons.

Hartree said at May 5, 2013 1:51 PM:

The most radical that I've personally met was Dennis Avner, AKA Cat, or Stalking Cat, now deceased.

And unlike the medical surgeries, all of that modification was done without anesthesia. So, the answer to how far some people will go is a rather open ended answer. I suspect for some it's only limited by what they can survive.

Phillep Harding said at May 6, 2013 10:25 AM:

I thought the people who relied on a central power source were idiots. No fall back in case something went wrong.

As it did.


Brett Bellmore said at May 6, 2013 3:13 PM:

Well, if I'm still around, I might be interested in *functional* changes, like a redundant heart, or counter-flow lungs like birds. I'm still hoping that tissue printers Moore's law themselves into whole bodies in time for me to get a new body before I die.

Kudzu Bob said at May 6, 2013 8:19 PM:

An ex-girlfriend's boss considers himself a transhumanist. Eager to get a head start on the Glorious Future That Awaits, he paid to have all his hair lasered off except for his eyebrows and what he has on top of his head. That was how he discovered that nose hair is for keeping dust of out of one's lungs.

Some guy said at May 7, 2013 1:44 AM:

Different people have different ideals of beauty, and it only stands to reason that as it becomes achievable to move toward those ideals, they will do so for their own personal satisfaction. I don't see why not.

I like striking and vivid hair colours that nature has not been so kind as to grace our heads with naturally. Dye is one thing, but I'd jump at the opportunity to target a novel pigment gene to dividing cells in the hair follicle so that I could have, say, blue or purple hair with much less upkeep. Those pigments look so nice on flowers, so why not on me? Extrapolating even farther into the future, maybe we could work out mind-machine interfaces and life support systems to enable robotic or bio-mechanical cyborg bodies. Being perfectly honest here, how many people would try being the opposite biological sex if it were as simple and reversible as putting your brain in a different interchangeable housing? I'm not transsexual or anything, but I must admit I've always wondered what it would be like being a girl. I'd definitely try it.

With sufficiently advanced technology, it might even be possible to change bodies with not too much more effort than changing clothes. In that sort of world, you could try various appearances or even functional attributes with no permanent commitment and could even adapt your morphology to suit particular roles at particular times. Boundaries of race and sex would disappear as physical attributes become the subject of whim and fashion.

As for me, I can't imagine wanting to become an unrecognisable alien monster... but I could imagine wanting to become Hatsune Miku. Yes, that's the kind of body alteration I could get into. TAKE MY MONEY.

Phillep Harding said at May 7, 2013 12:39 PM:

Some guy, Check Rish in Bujold's "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance". Rish is one of a set of genegeneered dancers, stage name Lapus Lazula (and looks a bit like turquoise). Her sibs are Ebony (or Jet), Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Topaz, color coded appropriately.

Fun read. Not as good as "A Civil Campaign", IMO, this one could have been at least two books, had Bujold wanted to stretch it out.

Abelard Lindsey said at May 8, 2013 8:44 AM:

There are the transgenders as well. Guys who become girls, ladyboys, and what not.

Abelard Lindsey said at May 9, 2013 11:09 AM:

I agree with Brett that I am much more interested in functional improvements such as increased IQ, improved immunity, and, needless to say, youthful immortality. I am not interested in seemingly bizarre cosmetic changes in my appearance.

Brett Bellmore said at May 9, 2013 5:37 PM:

Oh, I might be willing to indulge in some cosmetic changes once they became common enough to be unremarkable. (I wouldn't mind having metallic skin and hair like my favorite comic book character, Adam Warlock. Especially if it were more UV resistant!) But functional changes are much more interesting, and probably more challenging to implement, than the biological equivalent of theatrical makeup.

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