This links to a long story in Scientific American Mind about the new drugs under development to improve brain functioning:
There were two parts of the story that were interesting to me. One was where the author stated:And the other was this:The reason, it seems to me, is that we think cognitive enhancement is cheating. If, somehow, someone gets ahead through hard work, that's okay. But popping a pill and mastering information after having read it only once seems unfair.
This position makes no sense. Among the normal population are men and women with incredible memories, fast learners of language and music, and those with enhanced capabilities of all kinds. Something in their brains allows them to encode new information at lightning speed. We accept the fact that they must have some chemical system that is superior to ours or some neural circuitry that is more efficient. So why should we be upset if the same thing can be achieved with a pill? In some way, we were cheated by Mother Nature if we didn't get the superior neural system, so for us to cheat her back through our own inventiveness seems like a smart thing to do. In my opinion, it is exactly what we should do.
I found the article both enlightening on the topic it presented, it offered a good overview of nootropics and the history/uses of drugs to improve brain function. However, I also found this closing quote to be naive, especially in light of the government witchhunt with steroids. It is amusing that in an era where we are not allowed to self-regulate our use of drugs to improve our bodies, anyone believes we will be given that freedom with drugs for our brains. The article, although long, is worth the time to read, if just for the information on caffeine, a substance that in normally demonized in the media.Whatever happens, we can be sure that cognitive enhancement drugs will be developed and that they will be used and misused. But just as most people do not choose to alter their mood with Prozac and just as we all reorient our lives in the face of unending opportunities to change our sense of normal, our society will absorb new memory drugs according to each individual's underlying philosophy and sense of self. Self-regulation will occur. The few people who desire altered states will find the means, and those who do not want to alter their sense of who they are will ignore the drug potions. The government should stay out of it, letting our own ethical and moral sense guide us through the new enhancement landscape.