Today’s children are being prescribed pharmaceutical treatments unlike any previous generation. The BBC reports that child obesity drug use is soaring. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that abuse of ADHD drugs is growing among teens after an unprecedented rise in medicating kids for behavioral conditions after the turn of the millennium. KeepKidsHealthy.com, inadvertantly or not, offers an extensive shopping list of currently available ADHD drugs for the concerned parent. In 2007, the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published a report stating that 9% of US children age 8 to 15 meet criteria for having ADHD, in spite of other sources suggesting that hyperactivity may just be normal behavior.
All editorials aside, raising children with prescription drugs may be creating a generation of people that accept pharmaceutical behavioral modification as the norm. The adults of tomorrow may be much more inclined to embrace the utility of chemical treatment, modulation, and enhancement. This is a departure from older generations that have typically endured social stigma around reliance on drugs for treatment of behavioral conditions. Now, the first world is on the precipice of confronting unprecedented abilities to alter our brains & behaviors, and the rising tide of morality will likely move against tradition to support such degrees of self-agency.
There are many other signals suggesting that we’re heading towards a global debate about human enhancement and the rise of the transhuman. While the initial congressional & media volleys will likely be saturated with sensational scenes of moral outrage and the attendant outlying catastrophes, there is nevertheless an emerging trend towards accepting human modifications and enhancements as interventional medical procedures, behavioral treatments, and cognitive enhancements. For example, Psychology Today just published an article looking at how smart drugs enhance us in response to the rise in off-label use of ADHD drugs like Modafinil to enhance concentration and memory. People like Michael Chorost are sharing the experience of living with cochlear implants. Soon, we’ll be welcoming home soldiers patched up with neuroprosthetics capable of enhanced ranges of perception. And if the annual Woodstock Film Festival is any indicator (it is), then it might be worth checking out this year’s coming offerings addressing Transhumanism and a panel on Redesigning Humanity — The New Frontier.
The growing acceptance of the role of pharmacology in behavioral and cognitive treatments is just one vector in a large phase space witnessing the growing integration of non-biological and hybridized technologies into the human organism. We’re moving into an age of neural implants, mechanical prosthetics, and cloud-aware augmentations that are only now just hinting at what may likely become an extraordinary new era of human evolution. Or, as Zach Lynch suggests, a Neuro Revolution.