Frankly, I’m surprised that mental performance enhancing drugs (“brain doping”) didn’t catch on before it did. I suspect it’s because the drugs proved harder to perfect than (relatively) simple ones like anabolic steroids. But they are here now with a vengeance. The really fascinating part is that we are only in the first generation of mind enhancing drugs.
Sure, we have attention drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to give you an edge up on tackling boring and repetitive tasks, as well as beta blockers like Inderal which block adrenaline receptors in the brain, allowing calmer, better performance and decision-making in high anxiety situations. And there’s always good old caffeine, that stalwart of gamers everywhere, which improves reaction times and attention, albeit at the expense of getting a bit jittery.
But I’m looking forward to the second generation of mind enhancing drugs. So far there hasn’t been anything revolutionary. But what if we develop drugs that markedly increase memory? How about logical reasoning? There’s nothing stopping us from coming up with a drug that increases general intelligence (until the drug is broken down by your body, anyway; the effects wouldn’t be permanent).
Once we develop these drugs, how could anyone possibly say they were a bad thing? Imagine all the benefits to society if popping pills made our scientists smarter! Imagine all the increases in efficiency of business if executives gained better memory, thus being able to better stay on top of all of the things they must keep track of while multitasking? It could be a whole new revolution in humankind, akin in magnitude to the Industrial Revolution!
We’ve already come up with truly mind-blowing drugs, like psilocybin (mushrooms), marijuana, LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstasy), and others. But they’re not so much useful as they are mind-altering. Sure, some amazing things have come out of them (including great music and possibly personal computers). But they also have all sorts of downsides, and are primarily used by people looking to get high, not people looking to be more productive. But I foresee the second generation of mental performance enhancing drugs bringing about a new revolution in human intelligence, and to that I can only say, bring it on.