Category: Cognitive Enhancement

From the Human Brain to the Global Brain

When we consider the matter of brain function augmentation, we take it for granted that the issue refers to the human brain as a distinct organ. However, as we live in a complex technological society, it is now becoming clear that the issue is much more complicated. Individual brains cannot simply be considered in isolation, and their function is no longer localized or contained within the cranium, as we now know that information may be transmitted directly from one brain to another (Deadwyler et al., 2013; Pais-Vieira et al., 2013).

Aging Brains Aren’t Necessarily Declining Brains

For years, conventional wisdom held that growing older tends to be bad news for brains. Past behavioral data largely pointed to loss in cognitive – that is, thinking – abilities with age, including poorer memory and greater distractibility. Physical measures of brain structure also showed atrophy, or loss of volume, in many regions with age.

Cognitive Enhancement and the Future of Work

This theoretical paper draws the scientific community’s attention to how pharmacological cognitive enhancement may impact on society and law. Namely, if safe, reliable, and effective techniques to enhance mental performance are eventually developed, then this may under some circumstances impose new duties onto people in high-responsibility professions—e.g., surgeons or pilots—to use such substances to minimize risks of adverse outcomes or to increase the likelihood of good outcomes. By discussing this topic, we also hope to encourage scientists to bring their expertise to bear on this current public debate.