Justin’s note: Every Friday, we give the floor to Casey Research founder Doug Casey.
Last week, Doug told us how he thinks Donald Trump’s done so far as president. This week, he weighs in on how augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) could profoundly change dating, marriage, and even society itself.
Most people haven’t even given this topic any thought. But, as Doug explains, these technologies will soon change the world in unimaginable ways. Enjoy…
Justin: Doug, I recently read an article about a U.S. company that’s offering a digital “girlfriend experience.”
3D Hologroup has created an app that allows you to download virtual girlfriends. And you can interact with these girls if you own an augmented reality device.
So, I visited the company’s website. I discovered that you can choose which model of girl you’d like, just like you would a pair of shoes.
It reminded me of the hologram girlfriend that Ryan Gosling’s character had in Blade Runner 2049, which came out last year.
What do you make of this? Are you surprised that you can now buy a digital girlfriend with just a few clicks of a mouse?
Doug: It’s a vision of things to come. I don’t think most people know that this is happening. But it’s an inevitable implication of Moore’s Law, the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore that computer power would double about every two years. But it’s not just computers; technology is advancing at that rate in a number of areas. Augmented reality is just one example. Artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech are also advancing extremely rapidly.
It seems to me that we’re likely to see the Singularity within the next generation, just as Ray Kurzweil predicted. Among many other strange things, we’ll have humanoids and androids that will be increasingly hard to distinguish from actual people.
You’ll also be able to have your own Mr. (or Miss) Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Albeit a relatively low-functioning version. This will have immense societal implications on how society will function, and how people relate to each other.
Of course, that’s 20 or 25 years from now, and there will be many steps along the way. But one thing you won’t have to wait long for is artificial reality suits. You’ll be able to step into one and experience an alternate reality: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste I suppose. It will be vastly more involving than watching a movie…
Justin: I imagine that’s just the beginning… And then?
Doug: Beyond that, it won’t just be your body feeling sensations while you’re in an AR suit; it will all go directly into your brain. In effect, that cuts out the middleman. Don’t forget that sex and love happen mainly in your brain, not your body. At that point, you’ll be able to live in something that resembles an ultra-realistic videogame. You’ll be able to do, have, and be exactly what you want, or imagine. Like living in a dream. It’s been true for some time that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic—but this will take things to a whole new level.
The virtual world will be hard to distinguish from reality, but more pleasant than reality. Many people won’t want to get out of their artificial reality suits. That’s going to have huge implications for all kinds of things—not the least of which will be dating and family life.
These technologies are poised to change the entire nature of life. It’s been a long time coming, but science is catching up to fiction. And even pornography.
In the 1980s, one of the members of the Eris Society made a presentation on how technology was making it possible to get a vast array of new body parts—knees, hips, hearts, lungs—what have you. And that prediction has come to fruition. We’re now entering an era of artificial organs—not just transplants.
But you’ll eventually be able to replace your body piece by piece, then cell by cell. You’ll be able to transform yourself into a veritable cyborg. But you won’t even notice it. Everything will be the same, just much better functioning. On top of that, you may eventually be able to download your brain onto an advanced biocomputer. At that point, it’s a question of whether you’re even a human anymore.
I recognize that many people will think this is completely impossible and even ridiculous. But, as I’ve discussed in the past, Moore’s Law has actually been with us for about 200,000 years, and the curve of improvement is now noticeably exponential in the course of a lifetime.
The implications are very philosophically challenging. They’re immense in every way. What’s happening will go way beyond dating. It has implications for whether humans will want to reproduce.
Justin: Specifically, how could these technologies impact relationships, dating, and marriage?
Doug: Well, let me start by saying almost everyone in developed countries is tending to get married later and later in life, or not get married at all. People aren’t reproducing like they used to.
There’s a reason for this. Children have historically acted as an insurance program; they supported their parents when they became too old to work. But thanks to modern technology and investment markets, this is no longer necessary. Children are now increasingly viewed as a huge cost, a lifestyle impediment, and a liability in the developed world. As a result, the population is falling everywhere, except Sub-Saharan Africa. By the turn of the century about 45% of the Earth’s population will be from there. Notwithstanding what the recent movie Black Panther seemed to imply, I doubt Africans are going to be in a position to afford large numbers of androids.
But let’s forget about the long-term demographic implication for the moment. As the technology advances, it could be many people will get tired of having a real, normal mate. Even now, most marriages end in divorce. Maybe we’ll find that a difference that makes no difference is no difference. Maybe if you think you can have an artificial dream mate you won’t want to bother with a real one.
Justin: Where do you think virtual girlfriends could catch on first?
Doug: Japan will probably be the first place to embrace this sort of thing. Japan’s population has been in actual decline for years now. This trend should continue, and accelerate. Something like 50% to 60% of young Japanese—people between 15 and 35 years of age—don’t even want to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. They see it as more trouble than it’s worth.
Japan is also, perhaps not just coincidentally, highly advanced when it comes to robotics development. There are several Japanese companies making sophisticated love dolls, not just cheap blowup things. They’re very lifelike dolls, costing thousands of dollars.
Japan is going to be the country to watch from that point of view.
Justin: Besides better technology, what other factors will bring virtual girlfriends into the mainstream? It seems like this trend needs to overcome some societal taboos first.
Doug: Yes, but those taboos are diminishing. You’ve got to realize that the concept, and reality, of the “soy boy” is also spreading around the world. The idea is that if you eat a lot of soy it increases the estrogens in your body. Men tend to become more feminine.
Apparently, this is now especially prevalent in Japan. It’s also happening in China. A lot of Chinese males are becoming what they call “herbivores,” or “grass eaters.”
Justin: This is a problem in the Western world, too.
Doug: Yes, it’s part of a worldwide trend against masculinity.
Here in the United States, we have a meme about “toxic masculinity.” This is the idea that males are dangerous and undesirable, especially white males.
This meme is spreading. You can see it in many areas. For example, most graduates from medical and law school these days are women, not men. Women are also running major nation states and major corporations.
I have no problem with that philosophically—people should be viewed as individuals, not primarily as members of a sex, race, religion, or whatever. But, that said, women are becoming more masculinized, and men are becoming more feminine.
The trend is likely to accelerate because it’s widely promoted as a good thing. We can discuss the moral implications of feminine men and masculine women, who apparently now come in something like 54 different genders. Personally, I think it’s out of control, and destructive. But it’s being abetted by technology, advancing at the rate of Moore’s Law. The trend will likely continue, simply because trends in motion tend to accelerate until they reach a climax, catharsis, or crisis. We’re heading for a big one, in lots of ways.
Justin: So, this trend against masculinity could encourage more males to opt for virtual girlfriends instead of the real thing?
Doug: Yes. The two ideas are connected. The world is morphing into something almost unrecognizable from the past.
If you’re attracted to somebody these days, you basically need them to sign a paper before you dare kiss, or even touch them. I’m not kidding. This is policy in many universities and corporations. A lot of normal, healthy males—in the US and Europe, not just Japan—view dating as more trouble than it’s worth. The risks outweigh the rewards. The #MeToo movement and its clones are having a subtle effect on the average guy. And women are becoming afraid men are just Harvey Weinstein in waiting.
This is happening because political correctness has permeated society. It’s reached the point where it’s destroying Western Civilization. It’s turning men into little soy boys, and women into harridans.
One consequence is that people from the Mohammedan world and the third world increasingly see Americans and Europeans as weak and contemptible, even pitiable.
It’s almost a Nietzschean situation in which that which is about to fall deserves to be pushed.
So, it seems like technology, which has been our friend throughout history, is turning against us in unexpected ways.
Justin: Great stuff as always. Thanks, Doug.
Doug: My pleasure.
Justin’s note: This October, you can meet Doug—along with all your favorite Casey analysts—at our first-ever Legacy Investment Summit. You’ll have the chance to meet some real financial industry heavy hitters: Bill Bonner… Mark Ford… Teeka Tiwari… You’ll even get to hear from special guests John Stossel and Glenn Beck.
This is unlike anything we’ve done before. For the first time ever, we’ll be joining forces with two other leading financial research firms to bring you together with some of the brightest minds in finance. You can learn more right here.
Today, frustrated readers write in about our recent essay on Tesla:
What is this all about? I lost a fortune shorting the stock.
Great call! Lost my a** on your wonderful short recommendation on Tesla.
Justin’s reply: I’ll admit it. I was wrong.
Tesla didn’t crash on Wednesday, as I predicted.
Instead, its stock jumped 16%.
That’s a big move. But Tesla didn’t surge because the company is finally making money.
No, Tesla had a net loss of $718 million in the second quarter. That’s its biggest quarterly loss ever.
That equates to a loss of $3.06 on an earnings per share (EPS) basis. That’s far worse than the negative $2.88 EPS Wall Street expected.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad news though. Tesla burned through “just” $740 million (free cash flow) last quarter… better than the $900 million analysts predicted.
So, there’s some “silver lining” there. But that wasn’t the main reason Tesla’s stock rallied on Thursday.
CEO Elon Musk promised that Tesla would start making money next quarter:
From an operating standpoint, from Q3 onwards, we’re going to emphasize, our goal is to be profitable and cash flow positive for every quarter going forward.
If this happens, it would be great for Tesla and its shareholders. But you must understand something.
Musk has a habit of overpromising and underdelivering.
In February 2016, Musk promised investors that Tesla would turn a profit by the end of the year. He also said the company would generate positive cash flow by March 2016.
Tesla did not deliver on either promise. And that’s just one example.
And yet, many investors still take Musk’s promises at face value.
That’s asking for trouble. In fact, I still see far more downside potential in Tesla than upside. And I’m not alone.
Jim Chanos and Mark Spiegel—two of the world’s best known short-sellers—have both said that Tesla’s shares could be worthless. And these are not people you want to bet against.
Finally, for the readers who shorted (bet against) Tesla…
Please understand that I didn’t encourage this. On Tuesday, I said you should “avoid” Tesla… and I stand by that advice.
Of course, you ultimately make your own decisions as an investor. But our advice always remains the same: never bet more money than you can afford to lose. Risk management is critical. You should always use stop losses and take profits as they come.
As always, you can send any questions or suggestions for the Dispatch right here.
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