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 Post subject: Neuroenhancers
PostPosted: 090421 02:56 
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I thought this was an interesting article. Don't have much to say on it at the moment. I will say that it's pretty long, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Neuroenhancers
PostPosted: 090421 05:28 
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Very interesting article. It is indeed long, so for anyone who hasn't read it yet, you might want to pop a Provigil before diving in. :lol:

I have to say I have mixed feelings about these "neuroenhancers". On the one hand, I'm pro-transhumanism, and I like the idea of being able to alter our brain states and abilities ("mind hacking"), but on the other hand, I don't like the idea that our society/environment seems to be encouraging us and even expecting us to perform beyond our natural capabilities. There's too much competition and overworking. Can't we just relax and be human and do what we're capable of, rather than constantly pushing ourselves a little bit farther - harder, better, faster, stronger?

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All this may be leading to a kind of society I’m not sure I want to live in: a society where we’re even more overworked and driven by technology than we already are, and where we have to take drugs to keep up; a society where we give children academic steroids along with their daily vitamins.

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McHugh expanded on this point: "Maybe it’s wrong-footed trying to fit people into the world, rather than trying to make the world a better place for people."

Right on.

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I'm a little concerned that we could be raising a generation of very focussed accountants.

I thought the discussion about focus versus creativity was interesting, though I don't know how much to believe. Certainly, there's a considerable difference between accountants and musicians.

Quote:
a columnist named Greg Crapanzano argued that neuroenhancers "create an unfair advantage for the users who are willing to break the law in order to gain an edge."

This concerns me. While it would become a nonissue if such methods were completely legalized, there's still the issue of "chemical enhancement". Maybe in a transhumanist future chemical enhancement will be as natural as breathing, but in the current climate, I don't like the idea of being pressured to "dope up" in order to compete with my peers/colleagues who are already doing it.

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It’s fundamentally a choice you’re making about how you want to experience consciousness.

I imagine Doug would agree with this outlook. I like the way they described it as "cosmetic neurology". There's something to be said for the 'au naturale' approach, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Neuroenhancers
PostPosted: 090421 08:42 
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zharth wrote:
There's too much competition and overworking. Can't we just relax and be human and do what we're capable of, rather than constantly pushing ourselves a little bit farther - harder, better, faster, stronger?

I both agree with this attitude yet at the same time I don't. It really is a dichotomy for me at this particular moment with even weighting to both. I feel like I could probably write a lot on this in an effort to explain my point, but that might muddle what I'm trying to say. So, here's my weak attempt at making it concise:

It is extremely important to know how to relax, to know when to shut off work, put away the crackberry and spend time with your friends or family (if you have those) or with a hobby you have. Hell, even just to do or think anything other than work is good.

Yet, and this is what kind of struck me... The drive that humans have to push ourselves just a little bit farther, make ourselves better, faster, stronger, smarter is what makes us singularly unique. I don't think you guys would criticize me for it because you're not America-haters, so I would go on to say that Americans have demonstrated this the best in the past two or so centuries. The pushing that we humans do to ourselves is what got us on the moon in such a short time. It's what has given us the level of understanding and technology we have in math, science, medicine, engineering, and the military to accomplish what we have accomplished. Without that, who knows where we'd be?

It might come off as corny to use this as an example, but I've read it in books, seen it in movies, and played it in games: When we interact with other sentient species in the universe, even if we're not liked, humans end up at least respected by the other beings for our fiery ambition, emotions, drive, and hope. A good example I found was in the closing statements of "The Council" in Mass Effect when I beat the game and got one of the endings. I don't remember it off by heart but it's essentially what I just said about humans. We push ourselves and the envelope.

And yet, my mind flips back again to some of the unfortunate side-effects of that drive and the necessity to relax. If you never chill out you get worker drones today burned out on their workweek with little to no time to cultivate a happy family life. You get a culture where everything is driven on the mighty dollar, and screw morals, ethics, relationships, or happiness. As long as you get that dollar you're fine, right? :?

So through it all my mind shouts out one word: Moderation. Like many other things in life, we need to strike a balance, and it's certainly not easy.

Well, that's what I had to say. I'm forcing myself to stop here lest I start rambling (and I know I'm straying a bit from the neuroenhancer topic). I'm not even trying to argue or dispute anything zharth said... just kind of a stream of consciousness that struck me when I read what I quoted above.

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 Post subject: Re: Neuroenhancers
PostPosted: 090421 09:12 
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I agree. It would be pretty boring if we didn't push ourselves to that next level. We wouldn't advance, we wouldn't make progress, we wouldn't really get anywhere. And I considered that when I made my comment, but I was more focused on the whole overworking thing, like in school, when they give you so much homework, that you don't even have any leisure time for yourself. It's a good thing for us to push ourselves, so long as we're not constantly pushing. So, as you said, the key is moderation.

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 Post subject: Re: Neuroenhancers
PostPosted: 090422 00:32 
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I don't think there's anything wrong with using them, but I think they need to be regulated and examined to some extent. After all, what if everyone who uses them ends up developing brain cancer ten years down the line?

Also, if you think about it along the lines of something like Gattaca, it turns into a case of the haves and have-nots -- the guys who can (and will) get neuroenhancers will be favored over those who cannot or refuse to on ethical/religious grounds. It would add another striation to working society.


On the topic of human drive... that's actually a really, really popular sci-fi trope, and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm tempted to say it's because right now, we're special because we're the only sentient species. After we find other sentient species, we need something else to make us special and unique -- we like saying and being told that we ARE special and unique. So it's usually our ambition that makes us that way in fiction.


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