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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Darker Augmentation

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This New York Times article on the link between meth use and identity theft describes the grim potential in any kind of human augmentation that is ultimately destructive or dehumanizing to its user. The article notes:

When methamphetamine proliferated more recently, the police and prosecutors at first did not associate it with a rise in other crimes. There were break-ins at mailboxes and people stealing documents from garbage, Mr. Morales said, but those were handled by different parts of the Police Department.

But finally they connected the two. Meth users — awake for days at a time and able to fixate on small details — were looking for checks or credit card numbers, then converting the stolen identities to money, drugs or ingredients to make more methamphetamine. For these drug users, Mr. Morales said, identity theft was the perfect support system.


At what point does a legitimate, legal nootropic drug -- say, one designed to highten motivation and alertness, like Modafinil -- turn its user into an addicted fanatic? And if someone actually gains genuine talents from its use, how hard does it become to help them... or reign them in?

But identity thieves are difficult to generalize about because most crimes are never solved. The prevalence of meth use among identity theft suspects may say more about the state of law enforcement than about the habits of lawbreakers. In other words, meth users may simply be the easiest to catch.

In Denver, Mr. Morales said his office and the local police lacked the resources to pursue more sophisticated identity thieves who crossed jurisdictions or bought and sold identities over the Internet. On the other hand, he said, “it’s easy to get a meth addict to flip’’ and testify against others.

Nonetheless, prosecutors, police officers, drug treatment professionals, former identity thieves and recovering addicts describe a connection between meth use and identity theft that is fluid and complementary, involving the hours that addicts keep, the nature of a methamphetamine high and the social patterns of meth production and use, which differ from those of other illegal drugs.


Personally, I never thought of meth use as a "performance-enhancing substance." Even when I read about meth use by hyper-motivated students in School of Dreams, it didn't occur to me that meth addict criminals would gain any kind of advantage from their pharmaceutical weakness. But there it is. And if we end up in a world where many different forms of human enhancement become commonplace, having a clear idea of their potential impact is always a good idea. After all, the potential damage a meth user can cause is usually limited. What happens if we end up with a host of fanatics with advanced technical skills and deep-seated hostility towards society -- a kind of Unabomber-Plus? Perhaps as a result of several different augmentations that all went right, and one final enhancement that went very, very wrong.

Dark, Noo, Soc
Future Imperative

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