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Solitude: Why Are We So Lonely, Alone? (with Benny Hendel)

Uploaded 6/25/2022, approx. 30 minute read

Well, we are filming in Skopje and yesterday we were roaming the streets of Skopje and you said, look at this, you know, in the 90s, you would be able to pass here. There were so many people having a coffee, having a glass of wine, talking to each other. Now they're sitting at home with Netflix.

And the question is, do we need others? Do we still need others? Or is self-sufficient atomization the future?

It's always good to start with reality. It's a habit that I've acquired over the years.

So, for example, the latest statistics, according to Pew Center, which is the major pollster in the United States, the latest statistics in the United States are that 31% of all adults are lifelong singles, never ever had, never ever would have a relationship. Another 15 to 21%, depending on the age group, etc., are in between relationships which are shorter than six months. So we are talking about half the adult population who are alone. And the majority of them seem to be alone by choice.

But when we study them, actually, when we interview them, we discover that they are what we call egodystonic or unhappy. They're not happy. They have very high rates of anxiety, very high rates of depression, and so on and so forth. So it's not a happy state.

And yet they are alone. They remain alone.

And so...

What you mean is they are not happy being alone.

This is what you mean, because I don't know whether it's possible to measure how happy are people who are not alone.

We do.

That's precisely it. We ask people who are not alone, the people who are alone.

And the rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse among people who are alone are much higher.

We tend to attribute it to the fact that they are alone.

Although when we ask them, are you unhappy because you are alone? They will say no. They say no. They prefer career 2.2 more times than to be with someone.

So today in the adult population in the United States, people have a preference for having a thriving career, which is 2.2 times higher than a preference for being in a relationship.

In other words, relationships are no longer in vogue, no longer in fashion, so to speak. This is the United States. The numbers are actually even worse.

In Italy, I'm sure.

In other countries such as, you mentioned Italy, but definitely Japan, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom.

The United States still has a massive immigrant population which skews the results, changes the results. Canada, for example, is in much worse shape.

So we see a pandemic of loneliness, or shall I say a pandemic of aloneness.

Now what's the difference between aloneness and loneliness? Aloneness is a state of being, loneliness is a state of mind. And loneliness sometimes is the reaction to being alone, but not always.

Some people are alone and they're very happy. They don't feel lonely.

So what are the reasons for this?

And I isolated 10 reasons, of course. I'm writing them down.

Number one is technological self-sufficiency. We simply don't need other people anymore. We can do everything from home, at home.

This would become even more true with the introduction of the metaverse, because you'll be able to go to work in the metaverse, you'll be able to have sex in the metaverse, you'll buy fashion in the metaverse, you will order your pizza through the metaverse, and so on and so forth.

Your need and dependency on other people is my dream.

I'll ask again, like I asked you in the program about the metaverse, will the pizza be virtual?

No, you will order real pizza, but you will do it through the metaverse. And you will go to work in the metaverse.

And of course, even today, before the metaverse, you can do that as well. They bring you your groceries to your home.

That's the pizza thing, and they bring you home. But you will go to work in the metaverse. Your company will have a virtual office in the metaverse. Each of your co-workers will have an avatar, and all your avatars will meet in the virtual office. You will not go to a physical office, ever.

Avatar is like an image of you? Image, representation, icon, yeah.

Not a hologram or something?

Not a real picture of you, but something representing you.

Now, in the future, of course, the avatar could be you, like a fit picture of you, or an animated version of you, or really you projected onto the virtual office. But you will have sex through there. You will, by fashion, you will do everything through there, so technological self-sufficient.

This is tech.


Next, hollowing out of functions that used to be reserved to units comprising multiple people. So, for example, the family. The family used to provide, only 50 years ago, 60 years ago, the family used to provide many functions. Education was inside the family. Healthcare was provided by the family. People died in the family unit. People gave birth in the family. All these functions were forced people to be together. They needed to have a family, and definitely an extended family, in order to educate their children, bring them to the world, take care of health, take care of old people, seniors, etc.

But today, all these functions are outsourced. All these functions come from the outside. They don't come from the family. You die in a hospital. You give birth in a hospital. Your children are educated in a school, or if they are very young, they go to daycare.

So, the family was hollowed out. It has no functions left. So, there's no need for a family.

And indeed, 43% of children in industrialized nations grow without a family. They grow in what we call single-parent households. So, they don't have a family. Forty-three percent.

Wow. Half of all children grow in households with one parent. And the majority of these single parents are women.

There's no need anymore for a family or a community, because all these functions have been distributed and dispersed and are provided by suppliers. Simple.


Next is overcrowding. Can you give me my phone?

Next is overcrowding.

Now, there's a difference between... That's not my phone. It's my phone? Thank you. Thank you, Elvis. There's a difference between overcrowding and overpopulation. People confuse it.

Overpopulation is a global phenomenon. It's when we have too many people on the planet, and therefore, they consume the resources of the planet to the point of ruining the planet. That's overpopulation.

Overpopulation used to be a problem. Today, we have a problem of underpopulation. I know it sounds bizarre.

On the globe?

Yes. On the level of the globe. I know it sounds bizarre. It does.

Because we have grown from... When I was born, there were 3 billion, and now there's 8 billion. So how come there's an underpopulation?

The reason I'm saying this is that a sizable chunk of the global population is over the age of 65. So we have a shortage of 200 million children. We have an overpopulation of old people and an underpopulation of young people.

Consequently, in the majority of industrialized and developing nations, we are under the replacement rate. In other words, more people are dying than being born, and the population is declining. That is true even in Russia, even in China, even in South Korea, etc.

Which is good news for the globe.

No, it's not good news for the globe.

Because, for example, we are going to have a major economic crisis. Their pension schemes depend crucially on contribution for young people.

The young generation on the shoulders of the young generation will lie like a yoke. The pension sums of old...

We're going to have an inverted pyramid where there's a very big layer of old people who require health care, require pensions, and a very thin base of young people who will be slaves, who will actually work all the time to support the old people. That is unsustainable. It creates social unrest. It will be a huge mess. I'm convinced it will cause revolutions and so on. You saw this conflict between generations in COVID.

During the time of COVID, young people were blaming old people for all the restrictions and so on. They say, why do we have to protect the old people?

Yes.

Of course, on the family level, they honor their elders, but you're right.

I want to read to you, but there is a problem of overcrowding. Overcrowding is when we compress a huge number of people into a very small area of land. We create megalopolises with 20 million people and more. There's already 10 of them. There's hundreds with 10 million and more, and we have thousands of 5 million and more. We compress millions of people.

We were in London recently, and the tube in London is unbelievable.

We have a situation of overcrowding.

In the 60s, there was a guy called Calhoun, of course. Calhoun conducted experiments with rats and mice. It was known as the rat utopia experiments or rat colony experiment, but it's wrong because he conducted it with rats and then he conducted it with mice, which, by the way, have nothing in common. People think they have a lot in common. I thought theyhad a lot in common. They were totally too different genera.

And I want to read to you the outcomes of his experiments.

What he did, he compressed. He put a huge number of rats in a very tiny colony, a very tiny space, exactly like people in a city. We put a huge number of people in a small city, in a small space.

This is what happened to the rats when he overcrowded them.

I'm reading from his article. Many female rats were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did.

An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions.

Among the males, the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge only to eat, drink, and move about, and only when other members of the community were asleep.

So they avoided each other. They isolated themselves. They didn't want any contact.

The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments in which we observed the development of what we called the behavioral sink.

Sink like synchrony? Sink like water. Well, sink like a sink, water sink.

The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except when not in the company of other rats.

As a result, extreme population densities developed in the pen, leaving others sparse populations.

So what he's trying to say, to cut a long story short, when you compress, when you put too many organisms in a confined space, they begin to dysfunction. They become crazy. They become violent. They become aggressive. They can't even deliver babies. Even mothers are not mothers. All the so-called natural instincts disintegrate.

And finally, everyone begins to avoid everyone else. They go out to eat only when everyone else is asleep. And when they go to eat, they try to avoid everyone. And because they try to avoid everyone, all of them end up in one of the four pens because they are running away from the others.

But all of them are running away to the same place. So they end up in a crowd.

So this creates crowd mentality on the one hand and total isolation on the other. That's exactly the picture of today's cities. Exactly. We have mobs, you know, populistic, dangerous, nationalistic mobs on the one hand, and total isolation and atomization on the other.


The next reason...

That's the fourth.

That's the third.

No, no, no.

We had tech, technology, halloween, and then we had overcrowding. No, overcrowding.

That's the third.

Okay.

Now comes the fourth.

Now comes the fourth. Collapsology.

The fourth is known as collapseology. It is the study of societal collapse. It's a new field. It's a new field. It was first described in 1988 by Tainter. It's a new field that describes how societies collapse on themselves, implode. It is based partly on the work of Emil Dokheim and Hochheimer and so on. They called it anomie. They said that there are societies, anomic societies. There's a society... Anomos means no law.

Exactly.

No norms. No norms. Non-normative societies. Societies where there are no, as you said, no laws, no rules, no mores, no regulation, no nothing, no compass, no guidance as to how to behave. So our societies are collapsing. They're anomic. There's no question about it.

How do we know? Suicide rates. Dokheim predicted 110 years ago that anomic societies would increase... The proof of the pudding would be an increase in depression, anxiety, and ultimately suicide.

Now we see a massive explosion in the rates of depression and anxiety exactly as Dokheim had predicted. Anxiety among people under age 25 and people over age 65, anxiety is up 500%, depression is up 300%. Suicide rates among certain age groups is up 40%. These are sure signs of societal collapse and anomie.

In societal collapse and anomie, there's a sense of unsafety, lack of safety. There's no rules. Anyone can do anything to you. So people avoid each other. They isolate themselves. That's another reason.


The next reason is we are gradually coming to realize that being alone is actually the preferred state. People actually prefer to be alone if all their needs are met. So as long as you are technologically self-sufficient and you can call the pizza guy to deliver it to your pizza, you would rather not go out to the pizza hut.

Sam Vaknin, when you say alone, you mean alone and not a nucleus of, say, a couple.

No, no, no, totally alone.

We are beginning to discover to our shock that Aristotle was completely wrong. Aristotle said that man is a zoon politicon, a political animal. Actually, that's a wrong translation. We shouldn't be a social animal.

So, and Aristotle was right for his environment. People were dependent on each other. You had to grow food, and families were extended.

Farm society, farming society.

So he was right for his period, but today there's no more need for other people. And we discovered that when there's no more need for other people, people actually prefer to be alone.

Now, why do they prefer to be alone? That's the key question.

The first reason is what we call compensatory understimulation. And I'll try to explain this concept.

When we expose people to too many stimuli, too much stimulation, they shut off.

For instance, in the experience with the rats and the mice.

Yes. But in our case, for instance, the internet, for instance, Netflix or HBO.

For instance, the smartphone.

We according to Alvin Toffler in 1970, in 1970, when he wrote the book, Future Shock, and then later in 1983, the sequel, The Future Wave. Even then, even then Tofflersaid that in a single day in the life of a modern person, he has more experiences than his forefathers had in a lifetime. Even then, that was 1970.

Oh, yes. There was 1970. Since then, the amount of information that a typical human being is exposed to, a typical human being with a smartphone and a television set and a computer, is exposed to went up 95 times. Since Toffler, imagine. In other words, in a single day, if I put the two together. A lifetime. We have 95 lifetimes of our forefathers in a single day.

Of course, this is overstimulation.

Now, we know from experiments, not good. We know from experiments that when we expose any organisms, I mean, mice, rats, monkeys, you name it, when we expose organisms to overstimulation, they shut off and they freeze. They stop. They play dead. It's like a deer with the coming headlights. He plays dead. He freezes.

So this is called compensatory understimulation. We're trying to reduce the stimuli.

And this is the heading, which is one of the boons of being alone.

Yes. When you're alone, you have less stimulation because you're not exposed to other people.

So you're trying to compensate. You have a lot of stimulation from the internet, from Netflix.

Okay, then I will not meet Benny. I will cut off these stimulus. I will reduce my stimulation.


So the next thing is stupid people socialize much more than clever people.

So an unfortunate fact established in numerous studies, including lately in the British Journal of Psychology, there was an article. We by now have established clearly that there is a strong correlation between IQ and sociability. The higher your IQ, the less sociable you are. Sociable, I don't mean that you socialize with like-minded people and you talk to them. Sociability means just to spend time for small talk and have a drink and go snip a little and so on.

This kind of sociability, not goal-oriented sociability. If you and I hang out, we are not wasting time. We are talking about science and we are talking about philosophy. Exactly. That's not social function. That's not.

But if you and I hang out and we have a glass of wine and we just go snip or just look at birds flying or whatever, that's socializing. People with higher IQ socialize less.

Okay.

Now here's what happened counterintuitively. IQ levels have risen, have risen actually in the past hundred years. In the past hundred years, there's been a rise of about 20 IQ points on average. And levels of education have risen. There are three times more college graduates than in the 1950s. So people are more educated and they have higher IQs. That makes them less sociable.

But there is an even more pernicious phenomenon.

While the majority of people are more educated and more intelligent, the stupid took over.

Stupid people enabled by technology because stupid people evaluate risks less well than intelligent people, they took more risks.

Also they are more foolhardy.

The foolhardy means you take risks.

Yes, exactly.

It was almost a tautology. Yes. They're more foolhardy.

Exactly. They take more risks. So they took over. We ended up in a situation where the stupid ruled the world, controlled everything. And the intelligent, the educated are actually suppressed. It's true. And they're avoiding the world. They're avoiding reality.

Anyhow, they have a tendency to avoid because they're intelligent, but they have now added incentive to avoid because they will come against stupid people all the time.

This is called, by the way, the Savannah Theory of Happiness. If you want to look it up later, Savannah Theory of Happiness.


The next reason, I'm giving you reasons why people...

Oh, these are reasons and... Why people isolate.

Sub-topics of the boon of being alone.

Yes.

Why people isolate.

The next reason is many, many more people are traumatized than before.

Don't forget that in the past 150 years, we have gone through seven pandemics, two world wars. The disintegration of all social institutions, including the family, for example, divorce rates, shot up five times.

Isms that collapsed. Isms, of course. Fascism, communism, Nazism, etc.

All the social experiments have collapsed. Even democratic socialism. Even that is under siege.

So many, many more people are traumatized than ever before, ever before. I think, personally, it's the worst period in human history. And I know human history well.

It's true that in the 14th century, there was the Black Death. But, okay, so everyone around you was dying, but you still had your family. You still had the church. You still had the feudal lord. You still had the king. You still had a rigid hierarchical structured society in which you could fit yourself and find your place.

In other words, all the support networks were intact, actually.

There was no enemy. No enemy.

You went through an exceedingly difficult period with the Black Death because half of everyone died.

But you, as an individual, you were strongly embedded in a network of support, which kept you alive and well mentally.

This is not the case today. We don't have the Black Death, although COVID was bad enough. We don't have the Black Death.

But we don't have anything to hold us. We don't have a family. We don't have a community. We don't have church. We don't trust the state. We don't trust science. We don't, I mean, it's a mess. We don't have anything, any situation.

You cling on to.

Nothing.

We are all alone. You're on your own.

You cope. It's a jungle. I mean, you cope all alone.


But it's interesting that being alone, you prefer to be alone.

Because what's your alternative? You have no alternative.

It's precisely what I'm saying.

In the 14th century, I could go to the church to talk to the priest if he was still alive. But today I have no alternative.

So post-traumatic condition today is very prevalent. And we know from psychology that people after trauma isolate themselves. They tend to isolate.

They lick their wounds, so to speak. It's like dogs. Have you ever watched dogs? When a dog is sick, he doesn't seek other dogs.

No, he goes under a bush. He goes under a bush. Yes, a cat as well.

I remember the cat.

So post-traumatic condition.


Next thing is reaction to extreme uncertainty.

The environment today, economically, financially, emotionally, physically, any dimension imaginable is uncertain. And the uncertainty is maximal.

Futurologists never had the worst time. It's very difficult to predict the future.

We know that when people are exposed, not only people, excuse me, organisms are exposed to extreme uncertainty, they react in two ways.

They freeze or they fly away, run away.

Well, we know that.

It's called fight or fight.

Fight, flight, freeze.

But fight is when you have certainty. When you have a tiger, there's no uncertainty there. There's a tiger.

When you don't know if a tiger is coming, you actually freeze or run away.

That's all. The problem is we don't know if the tiger is coming.

It's not that we are confronted with a tiger.

And you don't know what is coming.

You don't even know what is coming. You don't even know if it's a tiger or, for example, some balcony, which is much worse.


Finally, the last reason is, and I've given you quite a few, and this is the cutting edge of thinking about loneliness, because I mentioned all the most recent disciplines. They deal with it.

And the last reason is, not rose. What am I talking about? Supernova of depression, anxiety, including social anxiety. We know that people with depression and anxiety avoid other people. It's a given.

When you're depressed, you want to stay in bed. You don't want to see anyone. When you are...

You don't want anything.

You don't want anything.

You don't want, exactly, a good definition of depression. Depression is a collapse of the will.

Yes, exactly.

Unwilling.


And so we know that.

And today, a shocking 35% of the adult population, that's one of every three, have been officially diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorders. Same number. Used to be 3%. Used to be 3% in the 70s. The 60s, sorry. 70s, it went up a bit.

But even in 1980, it was 15%. Today, it's 35%. These people are out of the market because they have depression.

Last thing they want is to socialize in a bar.

We need a miracle.

One of the main reasons depression and anxiety rates are rising is, for example, social media.

The constant comparison with other people. This is called relative positioning. We constantly position ourselves relative to other people. So we have, for example, body image problems. Body image problems or what we call body dysmorphic disorders. Exploded among women. Exploded like never, ever before, by the way.

It used to be a weight problem. Now it's facial operations.

Not only facial.

And Botox and stuff.

Not only facial, but women today, for the first time in human history, are unhappy with every single feature in their body. They are unhappy with their breasts and with their buttocks and with their feet, with everything. First time.

Because of the fashion industry, fashion magazines and so on, the advertising, advertising on television, social media, etc.

At the same time, the movement known as sex positivity, also known as third wave of feminism, has taught people that all types of sexual activity are not only permissible but obligatory.

So today, if you don't have casual sex, you feel bad. Really, yes.

We have studies that show that women under the age of 25 feel bad if they don't have casual sex and they are under enormous peer pressure to misbehave sexually.

We see that in movies.

And this creates, of course, added depression and anxiety and sex positivity and third wave feminism are pernicious, counterfactual, super dangerous and detrimental ideologies, which I would compare to white supremacism, I would compare to MGTOW, men going their own way, these are noxious, toxic emanations of the human mind.

And yet, they are the orthodoxy in universities. Third wave feminism and sex positivity is an official part of gender studies curricula in universities.

I have strong disagreements with almost everything Jordan Peterson says, but I strongly agree with him on this, to teach girls age 17 in Canada, 18 in the United States.

To have casual sex.

That casual sex is not an option, but it's a sign of good health, good mental health and it's a sign of empowerment.

And if you're not doing this, you need to see a therapist.

Everything is wrong with you. You need to disengage sex from intimacy. It's sick to put sex and intimacy. This is taught. I can show you textbooks. This is totally sick.


And to teach people of both genders, that career should come first, surfactualization should come first, fun, being with friends should come first, and they should delay relationships, minimum to their mid thirties, 34 in the United Kingdom. That's the age of marriage nowadays. Marriage rates have collapsed by 50 percent.

So people say, who cares? People are together without marriage. No, they're not. They're not.

Pew center studies are clear. People are not getting married, but they also are not together. Half the population is alone.

Now there's been one period, this I'm finishing, there's been one period in human history where half the population was alone and only one, by the way, only one period in all of human history where half the population was alone.

It was 1910.

In 1910, half the population in the United Kingdom, which was the only country with reliable census figures, half the population was living alone. Many, many scholars attribute colonialism and the resultant to world wars exactly to this.

They say that because young men were disaffected, had no families, no children, no nothing.

They went to colonies.

They became adventurous. They went to colonies.

They went to India and Africa.

Africa and whatever. And by the way, that was true. If you were there, you saw young, unattached men go wandering there and rambling and committing atrocities against the natives.

What were the two world wars? There were colonial wars. There were wars between colonial empires, between Hitler wanted to colonize Eastern Europe. For him, it was a colony. These were colonial wars. These were colonial wars and colonialism was a direct result of a surplus of young, unattached men. And they were unattached because there was a giant population of spinsters and old maids who wouldn't get married.

This is the only time in human history that we have reached and now is happening a second time. That is not a good time. Already you have movements of millions of young men who are becoming radicalized, violent and aggressive against women. These movements are called miktau, men going their own way, incense, involuntary celibates. Recently involuntary celibates started to kill women.

You're reacting like I'm, these are facts. When you leave young men unattached with no commitments, with no vision of the future, with no family, with no reason to live, no, they go, it's a fact that men are much more aggressive.

This creates aggression and aggression leads to violence. This could lead to violence on a global scale and social unrest on a global scale. We're only just starting. Trend is just starting. Even in United Kingdom, the trend started in 1870, culminated in 1910 and low and beyond. Four years later, there was a culling of young men, millions of young men died in the First World War.

We, and with this I will finish.

The war to end wars.

The war to end wars. We think we are not animals. The hugest mistake that we as a species make, this what we discussed earlier, that there is we and nature. We are not part of nature. We are animals. We know that in animals, when there is a population, surplus of population of a certain type, for example, too many men or too many women, in all animal populations, it creates a bloodbath. There's no exception. Why would we be the exception? Why? I don't think we will. I don't think we're going to a seriously bad place with this.

Grim. They're not grim tales, a grim future.

I want to tell you that I regard this as a much bigger threat than climate change. Climate change is bad, but we are adaptable animals, so we cannot live on the coast, so we will live in the mountains.

I'm not worried about this. It will be a transformation, of course, and of course the coastal areas will become uninhabitable, and so we will have to move New York inland. We will move New York inland, but this is unresolvable, that you don't have enough children to replace the dying, that half the population don't have a relationship all life, that in the year 2016 was the first year in the United States where a majority of men and women hadn't met a member of the opposite sex.

A majority.

A majority.

And since then, haven't met a member of the opposite sex for any reason whatsoever. All year long, that young men and women are having less sex than my generation and fewer sexual partners.

What is sex?

Freud was right. Sex is the force of life. Libido, Eros, that's the force of life.

Eros is the opposite of Thanatos.

So the only thing I can think of to end up this schmooze on a happy vein is to say that the futurist of the beginning of the 20th century thought that the major problem of the 20th century would be the manure of horses in the streets of big towns, and this problem was solved.

It wasn't solved.

It was solved by the income of...

It became politicians.

No, but motor cars.

No, I'm joking. This was solved.

I'm joking.

So maybe there will be some miracle.

Maybe there will be some miracle.

No, I think actually the very fact that we're having such conversations, of course we are not alone having this conversation, it's a good sign. It raises awareness. I think so. I think we are contributing what we can to the future.

Thank you.

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Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the importance of love in relationships and the misconceptions surrounding it. He emphasizes that abuse and love are mutually exclusive and that healthy conflict is essential for growth in a relationship. Vaknin also criticizes the modern concept of love, attributing its corruption to societal influences such as dating apps and social media. He highlights the devaluation of intimacy and the commodification of individuals in the digital age.


20 Reasons to NOT Have Kids

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the reasons why people are choosing not to have children. He cites studies that show having children can negatively impact physical and mental health, relationships, social life, earning power, and the environment. He also highlights the high cost of raising children, including education expenses, and the fact that many young adults are living with their parents well into their 20s and 30s. Overall, Vaknin argues that there are few good reasons to have children and suggests that counseling or medication may be necessary for those who still want to have them.


Workaholism: Addiction or Lifestyle? (33rd International conference on Mental and Behavioral Health)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses workaholism, questioning whether it is an addiction or a lifestyle. He delves into the negative consequences of workaholism, its association with mental health disorders, and its potential link to compensating for deficiencies. Vaknin emphasizes the need to consider societal and environmental factors in addressing mental health issues, rather than focusing solely on individual treatment.


Metaverse Sex and Gender: Sex Bots and AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the future of sex and relationships, which he believes will be dominated by artificial intelligence and virtual reality. He presents two examples of ethical dilemmas that arise from this new normal, including the question of whether a woman using a haptic dildo is really a man and whether having sex with an artificial intelligence robot is cheating on a partner. Vaknin argues that these issues challenge the very fabric of reality and society's organization by gender and sex, and that we are poorly equipped to cope with the Blade Runner era that is fast approaching.


How Technology Killed Empathy

Modern technology has had a devastating effect on empathy, which is the foundation of both altruism and collaboration. The emergence of modern technology has rendered empathy a tedious nuisance best avoided. With the introduction of modern, fast transportation and telecommunication, it was no longer possible to confine the members of the family to the household, to the village, or even to the neighborhood. Gradually we are being denied the opportunity to flex our empathy muscles and thus we empathize less and less.

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