The 20th century has been one fraught with enormous revolutions of the mind. From Freud theorizing concerning the inner mechanisms
of awareness. Building from the groundwork laid by Freud, his nephew (arguably the father of modern propaganda) Edward Bernays was
melding the new sciences of advertising, psychology and public relations. Aldous Huxley brings a vision in the 30's of a type of
techno-topia that is absolutely controlled that raised ethical concerns. Individuals had a basic fear of producing a type of
"golem" into the likes of Dr. Frankenstein's monster as well as the horror of Nazi eugenic protocols. These ideas cast a pall over
the field of bio-enhancement. Despite rocky starts amongst some misled Social Darwinists, of creating something more than
ourselves utilizing tools of our own 23, the idea proved too powerful to resist.
All around the 1950's a "Cold War" raged for supremacy amongst the World Powers. The Space Race and the Arms Race proved only the
tip of the iceberg. Skinner and Watson demystified the science of Pavlovian conditioning and programming. Behavioral psychology,
in turn led to the understanding of how humans can be trained and conditioned to elicit new thought patterns. The growth of
machines led to burgeoning disciplines in the form of computer sciences and information technology. The findings within these
disciplines were far more often than not transferable to the brain enabling us to understand how our own "personal computers"
The work on Cybernetics of Norbert Weiner was an effort to use methodologies and the protocols of Weaver's and Shannon Information
Technology theory to Computer Sciences and also our understanding of the brain. Around the exact same time, the founders of
Transpersonal Psychology Drs. Stanislav Grof and Charles Tart had incredible results with their LSD psychotherapy (until it was
prohibited from use in the 60's). In 1957, American linguist Noam Chomsky began explaining his transformational grammar in the
ground-breaking book, Syntactic Structures.
Syntactic Structures was integral in constructing the structure of persuasive & therapeutic technology introduced in Bandler and
Grinder's The Structure of Magic. The Structure of Magic was the first manual on Neuro-Linguistics Programming technologies, which
would form the basis of the self-help and "human potential movement ."
At the exact same period, Dr. John C. Lilly, consciousness researcher and delphinologist, was being financed by the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to study altered states of consciousness by using Ketamine, LSD and other chemicals in
conjunction with sensory deprivation. Lilly would refer to this "human bio-computer" and attempt to map states and spaces in order
to better aid in what he called"Programming and Metaprogramming the human bio-computer."
Advances in neuroscience and psychology would allow us to further map the expanse of space which would continue to unfold as the
years wore on. Maslow's client centered therapy and so called "Third Force" of Humanist psychology veered off from Freudian
psychoanalysis and Skinner's behavioral psychology. It was that this current that resulted in the further rise of the Human
evolution movement. The tools and technologies of psychology were no longer limited to the "mentally sick". Rather than an "if it
ai not broke, do not fix it" mentality, the brand new psychonauts were interested in finding new ways to enhance and improve what
already worked well.
Alongside all these movements in the West, Soviet Neuroscientists such as Dr. A.R. Luria were attempting to expand knowledge of
the mind from behind the Iron Curtain. A number of our modern nootropic substances climbed out of this sort of research. Picamilon
and Phenibut for instance were the result of Soviet neuropharmacology at work to create substances that would provide a energy
without the form. In actuality, the Russians were also the leaders in studying a large portion of day nootropic supplements.
Growing up in the 80's I had been fascinated by the rise of the so-called "cyberpunk" culture scene. Every other film enhanced
appeared to feature changed or some augmented reality or in some way affected by technology. This has gone on many times of
course, the printing press, steam power, power, all these advancements left a world irrevocably altered. In some cases there is
even what Marshall McLuhan calls a "rear-view-mirror impact" wherein it is tough to see where technology and the natural have
blended into a seemingly natural rhythm or symbiotic relationship. An example of this was brought up to me by my anthropology
professor, Dr. H. Lyn Miles, back in around 2002. She told me that, by virtue of me wearing glasses to augment failing vision I
had been by the definition, a cyborg of sorts.
By the 1980's the technological wonderland which Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan had predicted for decades was starting
the first upswing of it . The films of 1980 like: Terminator, Robocop, War Games and Johnny Mnemonic mystified and glamorized
increasingly electronics' brand new and alien world. These movies were all made before Windows 95 even made the computer a common
household item. Worldwide it was in this environment that the idea of a world tied inextricably into the machine was born.
Johnny Depp in adaptation of William Gibson adaptation, "Johnny Mnemonic"
Before the film The Matrix made it into the screen, the notion of living in a program was a frequent depiction that was initially
introduced byNick Bostrom together with Eliezer Yudkowsky that are currently operating on the Singularity project. The singularity
derives it's name from a bit of Physics jargon naming the point of how matter works, inside a black hole which defies all our
models. When working within the field of Artificial Intelligence the term describes a indescribable phenomenon. Nick Bostrom
surmises that the question is a matter of when, not if, because unless we abandon technology altogether (which appears unlikely)
then creating a sentient and smarter than individual artificial intelligence system is an inevitability.
Transhumanism gained its title in Julian Huxley, the biologist brother of this Brave New World author, Aldous Huxley. The Esalen
institute's work on evolution in the 70's and 80's and the creation of the Extropy Institute as well as the World Transhumanists
Association started the Transhumanism movement. I first started following the World Transhumanist Association group as the late
90's having already had my interest piqued by Esalen and the Immortality Institute. WTA has since rebranded as H+ whos end goal
has been (as the name, Humanity plus indicates) improving the general overall state of humanity through a positive synergy between
machine and man. Exotic Transhumanist technologies are not restricted to esoteric topics like mind-uploading or cryonics.
Self-professed "human guinea pigs" like Tim Ferris and Dave Asprey are always working with numerous method to enhance the general
operation of the "individual bio-computers."
Along with tweaking their everyday routines for optimal efficiency (diets and sleep regimens), "bio-hackers" and "human guinea
pigs" such as Dave Asprey and Tim Ferriss are both major proponents of both neuro-protective and cognitive enhancing chemicals we
know of as nootropics. Nootropics may improve deficiencies but there's evidence to indicate that their benefit might stretch
beyond merely improving decline. Healthy individuals are experimenting using the nootropic nutritional supplements for years but
with improvements in science improvement is more comprehensive than previously. (see PBS article)
Supplemental augmentation is not the only approach in this 21st century bio-hacker's hands. Monitoring and bio-feedback tools
like,Personal Galvanic Skin Response monitors with connections and also brainwave states can be elicited by Light/Sound Machines
through patterns of patterns and binaural beats of light flashing. Applications are now available for smartphones such as double
applications that may result after everyday use in an IQ boost. Together with the latest in biometrics' affordability and
availability, tracking physiological metrics and cognitive task has never been more easy. Dave Asprey isn't merely a proponent of
nootropics, but also of better living through electricity through TDCS (trans-dermal cerebro-electrical stimulus) along with LLLT
(low level laser light therapy).
Improvement was with us since the memory masters of ancient Greece, however the newest in technological and neuropharmacological
improvements are now readily available to the masses. With the popularity of the 2012 film Limitless starring Bradley Cooper and
Robert DeNiro, the awareness and curiosity in mainstream cognitive enhancement has piqued.
Leave a Reply.
Photos used under Creative Commons from andrewtoskin, Lion Multimedia Production U.S.A.