Nootropics, smart drugs, those pills in Limitless (call them what you want) are increasingly being taken by healthy individuals in order to improve brain function. After you've popped one of these, you're able to remember more, focus longer, stay up later - you basically receive mental superpowers until the effect wears off.
Some of you might be thinking...whaaaaat? Surely that's just science fiction. No, my friends, this is a brave new world. University students who don't have ADHD, but take Ritalin or Adderall to get through their exams are already crossing lines previously drawn in the sand and this trend will only grow. According to Research and Markets, the global nootropics market was valued at US $1,346.5 million in 2015, and is expected to reach US $6,059.4 million by 2024.
The whole nootropic issue raises several questions:
- Which smart drugs will society see as simple supplements, like fish oil, and which ones will we label as brain voodoo?
- We all know that life is unfair, but how will these types of drugs increase income and access-to-opportunity inequality when only some can afford these cognitive turbochargers?
- Could companies demand that their employees or contractors use nootropics as a condition of employment? Taking drugs is already an unwritten rule or expectation in some corporate cultures; the industries I'm aware of are tech and advertising.
- What are the long-term consequences of taking nootropics?
We're in for a long overdue philosophical and ethical debate, that's for sure.