We pay some people very good money because their bodies have certain talents in running around in a field chasing a ball or jumping through hoops or some such nonsense. We pay others very good money simply because certain aspects of their phenotype make us look longer at adverts then we’d otherwise would.
But I have seen the future and it doesn’t look good for people who make their living this way. Technology will bring a democratization of talent.
People are already trying to improve or retain their appearance by surgery and other medical techniques. The end result of improvements in these technology is that people will be able to buy themselves whatever physical appearance they think looks good. But even before then, the writing is already on the wall for people who make their living off their phenotype.
Computer graphics may have doomed fashion modeling. All they have to do now is snap a few images of a model’s face and hairstyle and then mount it on a wire-frame surfaced with the latest designs from the fashion houses, do a little editing and–bang–a still image that looks are real as necessary to sell us a product. They may not even have to do that. Artists can just walk out in the street and look at what the kids think is pretty or cool and then go home and render on the screen a human face that captures that look. This face, which belongs to no real person thus avoiding copyright issues, can then digitally pasted into any background necessary to sell us junk. This is already possible, at least for still images.
The Uncanny Valley may slow down this in motion clips but not for long. It’s only matter of time when the runway will be entirely virtual. If you’re a model, now’s the time to register your face as property.
Athletes are ultimately race cars or high performance aircraft. I know a lot of people will disagree with this but, let me explain why. With each new drug scandal in the Olympics, it becomes obvious: bodies can be built to order. Physical talent and ability can be made.
In team sports all that really matters is the intellectual aspect: the strategies of the coaches and the tactical surprises by players. The day may come when the brains of athletes are swapped between various bodies as the old ones wear out or need repairs. Training will only be needed for getting the brain used to the idiosyncrasies of the new body. I know this is a boggling idea but I think that’s where it’s headed.
Today we watch software games as a spectator sport on the cable networks. We already have robot demolition derbies. Tomorrow, athletic equipment companies will be selling bodies to the teams and players that can afford them.
Of course people will still pay to attend the games of amateur athletes–the games of the less physically gifted, but in professional athletics the demand for the best talent will reduce it all to biomechanics in the end. Aside from the strategy and tactics, that’s what it is in the end.