Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Question to Ponder

If you could use a machine to increase your creativity and your ability to learn, would you? And, would this be more like weight training or steroids?
(submitted by Ian F.)


Pam said...

So if this were a machine that measured brain wave activity and allowed me to determine when I have an increased amount of alpha activity, which is associated with "flow", and if monitoring this level made me more aware of it and then, as a result, made me more easily able to enter this state without the equipment to measure, yes - I would do it and I think it would be more like weight training than like steroids.

If the machine were like some sort of ray gun that could cause temporary localized swelling in one specific area of the brain and if this swelling temporarily increased the activity in that part of the brain, and thus somehow increased my ability to learn and/or be creative temporarily, I think that would be more like steroids, and no -- I wouldn't use that.

Jake said...

As a sci-fi nut, this is something I've thought and read about for a long time. The machine-human interface is already so slippery as to be almost meaningless. We use the internet, after all, on a daily basis as a tool with which to learn, and using brain-wave scanners to learn bio-feedback has been around for a long time now. I don't think we're that far away from more direct types of stimulation.

But I'm a luddite at heart. I would certainly think that anything that directly altered the way my brain works would not be for me. At the same time, I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable drawing any lines. Don't my contact lenses alter the way my eyes work? Didn't I have braces to change my bite? And by that logic, what's wrong with steroids, anyway? What's the difference, besides as a line of distinction we just choose to make, between training at 14,000 feet to increase your red blood cell count and taking vitamin b-12 to do the same thing?

Scott said...

If steroids didn't have any side effects, I think people would be using them much more, and our society wouldn't have a negative view of them. That said, I'd be happy to use this creativity machine, but what are the side effects? Increasing creativity is good, but am I going to have kidney failure and an exceptionally hairy forehead as a result?

Pam said...

Scott, so you're saying you would consider using a machine, but only if it didn't have negative side effects? I'm curious to know what sort of machine you are envisioning that could cause kidney failure and a hairy forehead!

Scott said...

That's totally what I'm saying. I mean, the ideal machine in my mind would be like that stuff in the Matrix, where they could just plug me in for a second, load some creativity in my head, and then unplug. That would be awesome. As for the kidneys and forehead, I just picked 2 random things that could be side effects. Like, I also wouldn't use it if the side effects were an inability to swallow and your fingernails fall off.