The debate on cognitive enhancement has reached BoingBoing and the NYT. I’ve been skeptical of the topic before, and this snippet from Benedict Carey’s article gave me little reason to change my mind:
Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania who foresaw this debate in a 2004 paper, argues that the history of cosmetic surgery — scorned initially as vain and unnatural but now mainstream as a form of self-improvement — is a guide to predicting the trajectory of cosmetic neurology, as he calls it. . . .
The public backlash against brain-enhancement, if it comes, may hit home only after the practice becomes mainstream, Dr. Chatterjee suggested. “You can imagine a scenario in the future, when you’re applying for a job, and the employer says, ‘Sure, you’ve got the talent for this, but we require you to take Adderall.’ Now, maybe you do start to care about the ethical implications.”
On this line of thought, in the early stages of the development of enhancement technology, it’s untoward to object to its deployment because it’s rare. One person’s use of the drug doesn’t appear to harm anyone directly. But by the time the “Adderall requirement” arises, the drug is so common that it’s likely futile to resist the requirement to take it. It’s the old “boiled frog” syndrome.