Futurist Jamais Cascio has a terrific new essay about arguments over cognitive enhancement drugs like Ritalin and Provigil. He asks whether people will stop objecting to the drugs when jobs are at stake. Cascio says:
There's clearly a competitive aspect to this enhancement, and that disturbs many of us. The use of cognitive drugs is driven, at least in part, by a perceived need to keep up with colleagues and rivals. The fear is, how much longer will it be possible for someone to reject the use of these drugs and still maintain competitive parity? If everyone else vying for the promotion uses modafinil to stay awake for 20 hours/day, can you afford not to? Given that the long-term effect of these drugs is still poorly-understood, however, is it at all ethical to allow this kind of "slippery-slope" scenario to come about? Even a broad national consensus against using cognitive enhancement drugs may crumble if another country chooses to accept—even encourage—their use. We may face a choice between altering our brain chemistries and falling behind in the global economy.
Check out the whole article at Fast Company.