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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.


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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Learning to Use Superlearning

Tom Friedman of the New York Times wrote a column today about the need for creativity in the U.S. educational system (and in everyone else's, for that matter). Friedman asks a critical question: How can Americans continue to be paid a premium for their work when there are plenty of other people in the world capable of doing the same thing for half our wages? He answers:
There is only one right answer to that question: In a globally integrated economy, our workers will get paid a premium only if they or their firms offer a uniquely innovative product or service, which demands a skilled and creative labor force to conceive, design, market and manufacture — and a labor force that is constantly able to keep learning.

He quotes the head of the National Center on Education and the Economy:
Tomorrow, Mr. Tucker’s organization is coming out with a report titled “Tough Choices or Tough Times,” which proposes a radical overhaul of the U.S. education system, with one goal in mind: producing more workers — from the U.P.S. driver to the software engineer — who can think creatively.

“One thing we know about creativity is that it typically occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about the other,” said Mr. Tucker. Thus, his report focuses on “how to make that kind of thinking integral to every level of education.”

I generally agree with Tom Friedman on this subject, but I think the field of human enhancement is going to hit this debate like a tidal wave. Frankly, what happens if you can train the average or even below-average worker to achieve a level of creativity that most people today would consider superhuman? For example, the ability to invent just one useful invention per day, with perhaps one in ten being of particular significance? How long before just a few million such workers would completely revolutionize all aspects of modern technology -- repeatedly?

The techniques to do that already exist and have been quite successful when applied by individuals or in small classes of volunteers. But imagine what other human enhancement resources could accomplish when combined with such potentially revolutionary methods. Imagine gene therapy optimizing your genes, nootropic drugs boosting your memory, drive and intellect, non-invasive "mindtech" banishing your stress and augmenting your creativity and overall intellect... all in addition to whatever radical or commonplace techniques you used to innovate or learn.

"The end of the world as we know it" may come in truly unexpected ways.

Bio, Noo, Mind, Soc
Future Imperative