Friday, May 27, 2005

Better Brains & Transhumanism

Reading this article in New Scientist about improving your brain got me thinking. Modafinil sounds like really great stuff, if there were established guidelines for using it on healthy people. There's an article about Modafinil and what it's like for a healthy person to take it from the Washington Post which makes pretty interesting reading.

As a transhumanist, I want to see (and legally use) clinically-proven drugs that enable me to stay up for 40 hours a "day" and increase my memory and IQ. Still, these articles do bring up an important point: if these drugs become the norm, how will that change our society?

In "The Incredibles", the villain intends to enable everyone to be "super" so that effectively, no one will be. The flipside of this is: if everyone can be Superman, will everyone be expected to be? Will "9 to 5" become a 30-hour work day? One would hope that current and future labor laws would prevent such a thing from happening. I want to have 40-hour waking periods to give me more time to pursue my projects and goals, not to be a superhuman slave to my employer.

Thinking about these issues is important. However, the history of technology shows us that we rarely get to decide how technology will change our lives before the change has already happened; when there is backlash, it comes too late to turn the tide. Healthy people are taking drugs like Modafinil and Viagra to achieve superhuman abilities today. Whether they realize it or not, they've gotten a taste of transhumanism and liked it. It's a sure bet that they won't give it up and will want more.

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