This is your brain on smart drugs…

Medical ethicists are starting to get worried about the possibility of employers requiring their workers take smart drugs to boost productivity. Hence this report entitled When the boss turns pusher” in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

…the possibility of discrimination by employers and insurers against individuals who choose not to engage in such enhancement is a serious threat worthy of legislative intervention. While lawmakers should not prevent individuals from freely pursuing neurocognitive enhancement, they should act to ensure that such enhancement is not coerced.

It’s an interesting question. Another point concerns the anti-egalitarian nature of smart drugs. If their use confers a genuine advantage, but they remain expensive, it will be yet another exclusive tool of advancement for the rich. The JME suggests:

…objectors argue that neurocognitive enhancement is anti-egalitarian because these technologies are expected to be costly and the wealthy will have significantly more access to them.

This is indeed likely to be the case—unless society chooses to subsidise enhancement, as it does public education and (outside the USA) healthcare.

However, similar inequalities are generated by private grammar schools and tutors for the SAT (a college and university admission test) and Ivy League universities, yet few suggest outlawing these threats to distributive justice.

So the issue of equality is another political ballgame (I’d love to be able to get some memory enhancers on the NHS). Anyway the approach suggested vis a vis smart drugs by the JME seems very positive and enlightened.

[When the boss turns pusher via article on, via Sentient Developments][image fron jenlight on flickr]

4 thoughts on “This is your brain on smart drugs…”

  1. I have been dealing with significant mental distraction and (increasingly) fatigue. I tried getting this treatable walking the Narcolepsy avenue of tests, but after years (..) there was no clear diagnosis. I tried again with more urgency (I started studies recently) and got results with a ADD therapist. I am now taking modafinil 200-300 per day and though it is by no means a failsafe solution, it helps me. I take 200 in the morning and another 10 before 1300 when needed. Before modafinil i slept somewhere between 12 and 14 hours a day. Now I am back to 9-10 hours a day, mostly at night. I think it clears my mind somewhat. I can easily see this compound, if having few long term risks or side effects of high dosages, become a consumer article. If I had big money i’d jump in to it, import it wholesale, and sell it in the same way as today people get rich on Viagra. No I wouldn’t bother anyone with spam (doing that should be a capital offense).

  2. Are there any “smart drugs” yet that have actually been shown to work this way? I think there are drugs being used to try and slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, but counteracting a disease is not the same thing as boosting a normal system – just try giving insulin to a non-diabetic and see.

  3. I’ve heard great claims for Modafinil from people who I’m inclined to trust, but I’ve seen no first-hand evidence of its effects in other people, and I’ve never tried it myself. That said, I’d certainly be interested to do so.

  4. If you would like to start using Modafinil use it max once per week 200Mg, to maximize effect. The effects waned in a week, for me at least, though I will effectively need it to stay functioning and awake.

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