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'Pleasure Drugs' Boom On Way, Says Think-Tank
note: this TOTALLY dovetails with the 'Paradise
Engineering' concept ~miqel
By Roger Highfield - Science Editor, The Telegraph
- UK 7-15-5
drugs could be as common as coffee within a couple of decades
to boost performance at school and at work, to "unlearn"
addiction and to erase memories of distressing events such
as a terrorist attack, according to a government think-tank.
Society may end up realising Aldous Huxley's vision of a
Brave New World in which people take a supposedly perfect
pleasure-drug, Soma - though the report shies away from
discussing whether future governments will be tempted to
encourage the use of "happy pills" for social
The Foresight think-tank points out that psychoactive
substances have been part of society for thousands of years.
It heralds the development of new recreational drugs, some
of which might be less harmful than those already costing
society around £13 billion annually, mostly due to
"We have not reached a ceiling for recreational drug
use," it said. "Psychoactive drug use may spread
more across the life course and may become more common than
is currently evident in middle-aged or even older age groups."
One of the team that produced the report, Drugs Futures
2025?, Prof Gerry Simpson, of Imperial College London, said:
"If there is such a thing as Huxley's Soma, that really
does raise crucial questions for governments around the
world about how legitimately to regulate a substance like
Sir David King, the Prime Minister's chief scientific adviser,
who led the think-tank, said: "We are on the verge
of developments that could possibly move us into a world
where we could take a drug to help us think faster, relax,
sleep more efficiently or even subtly alter our mood to
match that of our friends."
In addition to drugs that boost pleasure and sexual performance,
the report raises the possibility of drugs that cause selective
amnesia, for instance of a bomb attack, after the discovery
that substances called beta blockers can reduce memories
of stressful situations.
But the report warns that there are potential abuses of
a tool that makes people forget, "examined in a number
of films such as Total Recall or The Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind, where characters are able to forget about
Other possibilities would be drug testing of children before
they took exams to ensure that some did not cheat with cognitive
enhancers, or "cogs".
"The ethical debate about whether or nor to use drugs
to improve performance in normal schoolchildren and students
will probably be resolved over the next 20 years,"
said the report. "Similarly, there will be continued
debate about the ethics of using cognition enhancers in
However, it added: "In a world that is increasingly
non-stop and competitive, the individual's use of such substances
may move from the fringe to the norm, with cognition enhancers
used as coffee is today."
One problem raised by the report is that the pharmaceutical
industry might change its focus from drugs that treat mental
health to cognitive enhancers, "mental cosmetics"
and treatments for addiction. "The pharmaceutical industry
may not make new medicines for mental health conditions,"
The report lists existing cognitive enhancing drugs, such
as modafinil (Provigil), which was developed for sleeping
disorders, and methylphenidate (Ritalin), a treatment for
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Both are already
being used to improve alertness and performance, including
"Modafinil improves working memory, that is
your ability to remember telephone numbers, to give you
an extra digit or two, and improve your planning when you
are tackling chess-like problems," said Prof
Trevor Robbins of the University of Cambridge. "The
drug makes you less impulsive and more reflective about
Sir David said yesterday that the findings of the think-tank
were "independent of government
and don't constitute government policy. It is for government
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
Hedonistic imperative: Paradise Engineering
Another transhumanist current is represented
by advocates of “paradise-engineering” as
outlined in David Pearce (2003). Pearce argues on ethical
grounds for a biological program to eliminate all forms
of cruelty, suffering, and malaise. In the short-run,
our emotional lives might be enriched by designer mood-drugs
(i.e. not street-drugs). In the long-term, however, Pearce
suggests that it will be technically feasible to rewrite
the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem,
and use biotechnology to abolish suffering throughout
the living world. Pearce believes “post-Darwinian
superminds” will enjoy genetically pre-programmed
well-being and be animated by “gradients of bliss”.
Taking Mushrooms, LSD, Peyote, DMT, or designer drugs
is NOT something I would recommend to most people ...
© 2006-2007 Miqel
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