I had the chance to see the recent film, Limitless, and I must say, the premise makes for a good conversation. The protagonist is a failed writer who stumbles into a secret drug that allows him to harness his intelligence prowess. I won’t go into any further detail of the film, but I do want to talk about this perceived ‘super-human’ ability that the movie is based on.
Let’s say that you’re given the opportunity to take a pill. This pill will allow you to use your own ability to its full extent. Meaning, the pill won’t add anything to what you have, but will merely allow you to access all of it more readily. This pill, also, will not have any side effects. The drug has been tested up the wazoo for any potential “negative” side effects and there aren’t any. Would you take it?
This, to me, is a very interesting dilemma. Initially, one would think that it’s only a thought experiment as there isn’t currently a drug on the market that has these capabilities, side effects or not, or is there? Part of me thinks that if someone can make a movie about it, there is probably some truth to the premise. So, maybe there is a secret drug that enhances one’s abilities. Maybe this secret drug doesn’t enhance one’s abilities as much as the movie portrays and maybe the side effects are worse than what they talk about in the film.
Either way, it’s something interesting to consider. I think, for me, it would be a very tough decision. Thankfully, I do not currently possess a drug with these capabilities, so I am not faced with this moral dilemma. And isn’t it partially a moral dilemma? Taking this kind of drug would, at least partially, change the person who took it. The argument could be made that the person is really just a better version of themselves, but then the counter-argument says that changing one’s self (even for the better) is changing who you are.
Let’s face it — it would be really cool to be able to ‘access’ all of one’s abilities just by taking a pill. Something tells me that we probably can access all of our abilities (like the protagonist after ingesting the pill) and not have the ill-effects from the drug. Many people would consider remote viewing, (the act of describing targets [people, places, etc.] at a distance) to be a somewhat super-human capability, but we, as humans, have already been able to do this (without the use of drugs). In the 1970s, the US government actually funded remote viewing research. Heck, you can even take a test online to see if you can “remotely view.”
There really is so much already written about this topic that a post like this could turn into a thesis or a dissertation. These ‘special powers’ have been part of some of the world’s religion for thousands of years. In Buddhism, they have what is known as a Siddhi. The Sanskrit word, Siddhi, translates to perfection, but what it is referring to is psychic powers. So, in this sense, some religions already believe that humans possess the capacity to attain these abilities without the use of drugs.
Overall, the idea of increased intelligence is fascinating. For me, it would be important that to whom this ability was bestowed (or earned or however it happened) be to someone who was highly ethical and moral. I really wouldn’t want a super-human trying to swindle money from people. From my perspective, increased intelligence or (enhanced ability to access one’s intelligence) could come in very handy for engineering peace between nations.