There’s an interesting article in the New Yorker about “neuroenhancing” drugs. Students at Ivy League schools are commonly using ADHD drugs like Adderall and newer stuff in order to give them an edge over other students, allowing them to study hard, but also party hard.
(This thought is somewhat tangential, but I attended Arizona State for law school, and this school often comes up on lists of top party schools, but the undergraduates I encountered always struck me as slackers rather than hard partiers. I think there is a correlation, among college students at least, between studying hard and partying hard.)
This future, where people need to take neuroenhancing drugs in order to compete, reminds me of the Unabomber Manifesto in which Ted Kaczynski warned that future brain-improvement drugs would lead to the end of our humanity. Ted may have been a big weirdo, but he was also a deep thinker. This is a future that Mr. Kaczynski dreaded, but people who call themselves “transhumanists” look forward to it. (A blog reader once asked, "Why don't you ever blog about transhumanism?" I don't know, it's just not something I'm interested in.)
I can’t get through a day without a cup of coffee, which is supposedly the norm for SWPLs. When I tried to withdraw from coffee, after the week of headaches finally passed, I still didn’t feel “normal,” and gave up on the experiment. (Strangely, there was very little information I could find about caffeine withdrawal besides that the headaches go away after a week or so. You would think it would be studied more.) Is being addicted to a neuroenhancing drug invented by scientists and manufactured in a pharmaceutical laboratory somehow different than being addicted to caffeine which is a naturally occurring neuroenhancing drug?
If neuroenhancing drugs become common, it’s easy to predict that this will increase the divide between the upper and lower classes, because we will see the upper classes taking these drugs in order to compete in upper-middle-class class professions, but poor people won’t waste their money on them—they don’t need better memory or concentration for their jobs at McDonalds.