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What we take for granted

October 27, 2011

I take for granted that I can sit in front of a machine that I can sit in front of a machine (a bit like a flatted television, and I can type into the machine on something that resembles just the keyboard from a typewriter “zucchini garlic olive oil recipe” into a little box on the screen, and O would click a button, it would almost instantaneously present me with 7,600,000 references to those words, on pages of writing from all over the world.

I have at new eight of those machines like that in my house, because my husband makes his living fixing them.

Is that the sort of future  world I would have imagined living in when I was eight, or even fifteen? The clost that we got in imagining personal computers and the internet was what, Star Trek.? Would I have liked it if I’d seen a vision of it? And what will the world be like in another forty years? Because it will occur, and there will be a reality as different from this one as this one is from the world when I was a child. Will it be machines that make the world as radically different? Ideas?

One thing I know is that the way the great mass of people think about their brains will be radically different. How they envision it working, how they imagine doping  and drugging it, and to what ends, will be massively different. What if they could take a pill, or a combination, of pills designed to produce the neurotransmitted state of peace, of bliss, of genius, of violence, of rage and massacre.They will be the drugs that are weapons, both physical and political.

Diseases like mine, and many others, will be treated with very precise drugs, and with techniques that help a patient re-grow certain parts of the brain with thinking and visualization. Neuroplastic treatment will be as common as …. well, what amazing, undreamt of facts or treatments would have been in 1969 or 1974. The amazing “google”can tell me that the first heart transplant occurred in 1967. Perhaps the amazing health fact that is commonplace now, but flabbergasting the, was the whole idea that mental illnesses could be treated with drugs. We knew about a few drugs that could vastly affect mental states (L.S.D., and thorazine). We even knew about the powerful effects of tranquilizers and amphetamines. My father became addicted to “uppers” and “downers” when he was given them as a medical staffer in Korea in the late 1940s (they were a cheap and eeasy way to keep troops up when they needed to be.) But we hadn’t yet gone through the Prozac Revolution, the idea that drugs could be used to manage everyday moods. What heppens as we come to realize just how malleable the brain is?

What will the world look like in 2051? Just how distant andunbelievable quaint will the New Frontier appear to be?

Perhaps we will have reached a point where science will once again have become respected and believed.

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