Mind drugs – Future Imperfect by David Friedman
UNA VITA MIGLIORE GRAZIE ALLA CHIMICA
At least since the discovery of alcohol, humans have used drugs to affect the mind.
Note: L’ UOMO SI DROGA DA SEMPRE. È UNA TRADIZIONE VENERANDA Edit
In many ways this will be a good thing; already drugs provide substantial benefits to some sufferers from mental disorders.
Note: L”ASPETTO POSITIVO: MENO SOFFERENZA. MICA PAGLIA.
COSA DESIDERA? PIACERE O FELICITÀ ? QUI SI VENDE DI TUTTO.
In most contexts we consider happiness and pleasure good things. Jeremy Bentham, one of the most influential philosophers of the nineteenth century, offered a simple standard for judging everything – its effect on utility, happiness, the excess of pleasure over pain in human life.
Note: DI SOLITO IL PIACERE È BUONA COSA. PERCHÈ CONDANNARLO? EPPURE LO SI FA CONTINUAMENTE Edit
Supporters of laws against recreational drugs base their support on a variety of factual claims, some true, some false. It is not true that smoking marijuana makes people go crazy and commit violent crimes, as claimed in “Reefer Madness,” a movie that played an important role in inspiring the original anti-marijuana legislation. It is true that people on LSD are frequently incapable of performing ordinary tasks such as driving a car safely or conducting a coherent conversation.
Note: ARGOMENTI CONTRO LA DROGA. A VOLTE FONDATI ALTRE VOLTE MENO Edit
Whether or not the negative claims are true of some or all current recreational drugs, they are unlikely to be true of all future recreational drugs. The more we know about how the human mind functions, the better we will become at creating drugs that give pleasure without serious negative side effects. Unless, of course, it is pleasure itself that is the problem.
Note: LA DROGA DEL FUTURO PROBABILMENTE ELUDERÀ QUESTE CRITICHE E POTREMO VENIRE AL PUNTO. LA DROGA DEL FUTURO ANNULLERÀ GLI EFFETTI COLLATERALI NEGATIVI. BASTA PROBLEMI…. A MENO CHE IL PROBLEMA NON SIA IL PIACERE IN SÈ Edit
If we can create a chemical that gives us pleasure, and if pleasure is a good thing, why don’t we come already equipped for pleasure on demand?
Note: UNA COSA CHE DÀ DA PENSARE: PERCHÈ L’ EVOLUZIONE NON CI HA DOTATO DI UN PIACERE SENZA DANNI COLLATERALI? Edit
The obvious answer is that we are designed by evolution not for happiness but for reproductive success.
Note: UNA RISPOSTA OVVIA Edit
If pleasure drugs are too good, they might interfere not merely with reproductive success but with physical survival.
Note: IL PIACERE PUÒ INTERFERIRE Edit
one more minute of intense pleasure is worth more to them than food or drink. If we accept this argument, the implication is not that pleasure drugs are bad but only that they should be used in moderation.
Note: ESEMPIO Edit
Food, after all, is consumed largely to give us sensual pleasure. A minimum-cost, full-nutrition diet, based on flour, peanut butter, cabbage, and other high nutrition/low cost ingredients, comes to less than two dollars a day. j The rest of what we spend is for pleasure.
Note: FACCIAMO UN CASO DIVERSO DALLA DROGA: CIBO E PIACERE Edit
The current real-world problem of trading short-term pleasure for more important long-term goals is, arguably, not the starvation ofNiven’s wirehead but its opposite: obesity.
Note: NELLA NOSTRA EPOCA IL PIACERE INTERFERISCE ATTRAVERSO L’OBESITÀ PIÙ CHE ATTRAVERSO LA MALNUTRIZIONE. DROGHE ALTERNATIVE AL CIBO FAREBBERO BENE A MOLTI OBESI CHE SI DISTRARREBBERO DA UN PIACERE PER LORO NOCIVO CON UN ALTRO PIACERE Edit
A more general argument against pleasure drugs is that simple pleasure is not all that matters, as suggested not merely by philosophers but by observed behavior. Few couples have sex as frequently as would be physically possible; few single individuals masturbate as often as would be physically possible. If we imagine someone spending most of his life in a drug-induced haze, we may suspect that, however intense his pleasure, he is not really happy. This suggests the least interesting response to the possibility of pleasure drugs – that they don’t work,
Note: ALTRO ARGOMENTO CONTRO IL PIACERE: PER NOI NON CONTA SOLO IL PIACERE. LA CONTROPROVA È PRESTO FATTA Edit
SE IL PIACERE NON TI CONVINCE, CHE NE DICI DELLA FELICITÀ?
Since we are not limited to current technology, replace pleasure with happiness, the state of mind to which we think of pleasure as one input.
Note: RIMPIAZZATE IL PIACERE CON LA FELICITÀ QUANDO PENSATE ALLA DROGA DEL FUTURO Edit
Studies of happiness suggest that happy people stay happy even when circumstances change, at least once they have had time to adjust to the changes.
Note: LA FELICITÀ È SPESSO QUESTIONE DI CARATTERE. MA UN CARATTERE, DOMANI, POTRÀ ESSERE COSTRUITO IN LABORATORIO. COSA LO VIETA? Edit
So consider, not a pleasure drug, but a happiness drug,
Note: LA DROGA PERFETTA. OBIEZIONI? Edit
If you could, would you? Should you? One possible answer is that such happiness is unnatural. Again the argument is that we have been designed by evolution, and evolution is much better at neurochemistry than we are. If brain chemistry that made us happy was a good thing, we would all already have it.’ The argument already offered for pleasure can be recycled for happiness.
Note: IL CONCETTO DI INNATURALE. QUANTO DETTO PER IL PIACERE IN FONDO VALE ANCHE PER LA FELICITÀ: SE LA COSA FA PER NOI PERCHÈ L’EVOLUZIONE NON CI HA PROCURATO NIENTE DELMGENERE?
While evolution may indeed be a very good biochemist, its objectives are not the same as ours. From the viewpoint of evolution, we are simply machinery by which genes make other genes. The design objective is reproductive success, the ability to increase the frequency of our genes in future generations. That is not my design objective for me;
Note: POSSIAMO DISSOCIARCI DALL’EVOLUZIONE NATURALE? Edit
Not only does evolution have the wrong objective, its designs are also out of date. Humans have long generations and so evolve slowly. Such evidence as we have suggests that we are adapted not to current circumstances but to the hunter-gatherer societies in which our species spent most of its existence.
Note: D’ALTRONDE, L’EVOLUZIONE FA PARECCHI ERRORI, QUESTO È ACCLARATO. BASTEREBBE UNA SCORSA AI BIAS COGNITIVI CHE CI AFFLIGGONO.
A second and more interesting objection is that utilitarianism is wrong, that happiness is not all that matters.
Note: ALTRA OBIEZIONE: NON CONTA SOLO LA FELICITÀ Edit
consider two alternative lives I might live. One is the life I have lived. It has been, on the whole, a happy one…. The other is the life I might have lived if provided with suitable drugs, sufficient to make me at every moment of that life at least as happy as in the life I led. It is true that in that life I would not have had the pleasures of children, books, and other accomplishments. But I would have been compensated for that lack by an artificial increase in whatever brain chemicals connect the cause of accomplishment to the effect of happiness. Which life is more worth living?
Note: ESPERIMENTO MENTALE DELLA DOPPIA VITA Edit
Note: IL DILEMMA È REALE. DIFFICILE MINIMIZZARE.
happiness drugs do not prevent their beneficiaries from living active and productive lives.
Note: DROGA E VITA ATTIVA NON SONO POI COSÌ INCOMPATIBILI. LA SCELTA NON È OBBLIGATA, FORSE DOBBIAMO SMETTERE DI PENSARE IN QUESTI TERMINI Edit
DROGA E PRESTAZIONI
“I would prefer my child take anabolic steroids and growth hormone than play rugby. Growth hormone is safer than rugby. At least I don’t know of any cases of quadriplegia caused by growth hormone”.
Note: SAVULESCU, IL DOPING E IL RUGBY Edit
Everyone seems to agree that it is a bad thing for athletes to use steroids, but it is not entirely bad a diet… Athletes have, after all, been using diet and exercise to improve their performance for thousands of years, as well as a variety of older drugs. Why does the process suddenly become sinful when they switch to steroids?
Note: PERCHÈ PER UN ATLETA È MALE PRENDERE UNO STEROIDE ED È BENE FARE DIETE O ALLENARSI? Edit
One answer is that since steroid use is currently prohibited, those who use steroids are getting an unfair advantage. But that does not explain why they are currently prohibited when other ways of getting an advantage are not.
Note: RISPOSTA ELUSIVA: LO STEROIDE È VIETATO E ASSUMERLO È SCORRETTO. MA CIÒ NON RISPONDE ALLA DOMANDA Edit
A second answer is that we are afraid young athletes, with inadequate concern for their own future, will do themselves serious damage in the process of trying to win. But while taking steroids may reduce life expectancy
Note: SECONDA RISPOSTA: FA MALE ALLA SALUTE Edit
so does driving a car around a racetrack at something over 200 miles an hour,
Note: E I PILOTI DI F1? IN QUESTO CASO IL SEMPLICE GAREGGIARE FA ANCORA PIÙ MALE ALLA SALUTE Edit
Why is our paternalism so selective?’
Note: UN CASO DI PATERNALISMO SELETTIVO? Edit
VENIAMO ALLORA ALLA RISPOSTA PIÙ INTERESSANTE
The most interesting answer… Arguably, most of what we care about is the relative, not absolute, ability of the athletes.
Note: PREMESSA: SIAMO INTERESSATI ALL’ ABILITÀ RELATIVA DI UNO SPORTIVO, NON A QUELLA ASSOLUTA. VOGLIAMO INNANZITUTTO CHE LA NOSTRA SQUADRA VINCA, NON CHE GIOCHI BENE. Edit
We want our favorite baseball team to play a little better than its opponents but care little about the absolute level
Note: ESEMPIO Edit
competition via steroid use is a mistake…. Both teams, boxers, or runners get a little better, their relative ability is unaffected, the fans are no happier and the athletes die a little younger.
Note: GLI STEROIDI DIVENTANO ALLORA UNO SPRECO: NESSUN VANTAGGIO. DI LORO CI PRENDIAMO SOLO IL NEGATIVO. È PARADOSSALE MA SE IL PUBBLICO FOSSE RALMENTE SPORTIVO E NON TIFOSO, I MOTIVI PER LIMITARE IL DOPING SI INDEBOLIREBBERO
Ritalin, for example, is usually thought of as medication for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It turns out, however, that one cannot tell if someone has ADD by giving him Ritalin and seeing if his concentration improves, because Ritalin improves everyone’s concentration.
Note: PER CAPIRE MEGLIO FACCIAMO UN PARALLELO FUORI DALLO SPORT: IL RITALIN… INDISTINGUIBILITÀ DELLE PRESTAZIONI Edit
Perhaps when the due date for a paper approaches, a student given to procrastination might want to obtain some modafinil,10 a drug that appears to eliminate the need for sleep
Note: ESAMI. DROGHE CHE ELIMINANO IL SONNO Edit
One argument for prohibiting the use of such drugs by those taking the bar exam, or SATs, or a final, is that they distort the information that the exam produces. A law firm deciding whether to hire you doesn’t want to know how good a lawyer you are when you are under the influence of Ritalin
Note: ALTRO ARGOMENTO CONTRO LE DROGHE NELLA VITA REALE: LE DROGHE PRODUCONO INFO DISTORTE. Edit
That makes sense as long as we are only talking about temporary effects. The question becomes more interesting if we consider a drug that can be used on a regular basis
Note: E I DROGATI REGOLARI? L’ INFO CHE GENERA LA LORO PRESTAZIONE NON È AFFATTO DISTORTA Edit
That argument reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of economic competition. If you and I are runners and both use steroids, both run a little faster and you still win the race. Nothing is gained and, if steroids have undesirable side effects, something is lost. But if you and I are house carpenters who use an improved version of modafinil to increase both labor and leisure, working ten hours out of twenty-two instead of eight out of sixteen, the result is that more houses get built.
Note: ORA CAPIAMO CHE L’OBIEZIONE CHE VALE PER LA DROGA NELLO SPORT NON VALE FUORI: FUORI C’È SEMPRE QUALCUNO CHE TRAE VANTAGGIO DALLE SUPERPRESTAZIONI. IN ALTRI TERMINI: FUORI LA PRESTAZIONE ASSOLUTA DOMINA SU QUELLA RELATIVA Edit
“Competition” is a misleading term because it suggests that, as in athletic contests, all that matters is who wins.
Note: COMPETIZIONE: TERMINE FUORVIANTE PER DESCRIVERE IL MERCATO Edit
An alternative explanation, and one that provides at least a partial explanation of hostility to many different technologies, is that people are simply conservative, skeptical of anything new, “unnatural,” despite the unnatural nature of virtually everything we currently eat, drink, or wear.
Note: ULTIMA SPIEGAZIONE RIMASTA PER OPPORSI ALLA DROGA PERFETTA: DIFFIDENZA PER IL NUOVO Edit
DROGHE E PERSONALITÀ: CHI SONO IO?
As we develop ways of easily obtaining much more intense pleasures, there is some risk that we may be tempted into giving up long-term benefits in exchange for short-term benefits even when we should not. This raises an obvious question: What does “should not” mean?
Note: DROGA. BENFICI A BREVE E A LUNGO. UN TRADE OFF Edit
An approach to that question that I find intuitively appealing is to think of myself as two people in one, a long-term planner and a short-term current utility maximizer.
Note: PENSIAMOCI COME DUE PERSONE IN LOTTA TRA LORO. METAFORA SCHIZOFRENICA Edit
This way of looking at it suggests an intriguing possibility. Perhaps the problem with pleasure drugs can be dealt with by personality drugs.
Note: VINCERE LA DROGA (DEL PIACERE) CON LA DROGA (DELLA VOLONTÀ) Edit
Perhaps, as we learn more about how the brain works, we will discover that the difference reflects some difference in brain chemistry.
Note: DROGHE E PERSONALITÀ: ALTERARE LA CHIMICA DEL CERVELLO Edit
Consider, for example, what we already know about the effects of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in brain chemistry. A shortage of dopamine in the brain results in an indecisive personality;
Note: DOPAMINA Edit
The formerly mild mannered, thoughtful, and cooperative foreman had been transformed into a cursing, belligerent tyrant.
Note: LA TRISTE STORIA DI PHINEA GAGE Edit
Bipolar disorder is one example, depression another. Both can be seen as personality disorders. Both are treated with drugs,
Note: DISORDINE BIPOLARE E DEPRESSIONE. ALTERAZIONI DI PERSONALITA’ CHE TUTTI NOI ACCETTIAMO Edit
DROGHE CHE CI DANNO IL CONTROLLO SU ALTRI
drugs to make the victim unconscious – chloral hydrate, the “Mickey Finn” of old detective stories, and its more modern equivalents – and the use of alcohol as an aid to seduction.
Note: DROGHE PER RENDERE LA VITTIMA INCOSCIENTE Edit
the difference between personality drugs and control drugs depends not so much on the nature of the drug as on how it is used
Note: NON CONTA IN QUESTI CASI LA DROGA MA COME LA SI USA Edit
There are drugs that induce temporary amnesia, such as Rohypnol, sometimes called the date rape drug. There are drugs such as alcohol and marijuana that relax people and make it harder to think clearly.
Note: LA DROGA DELLO STUPRO Edit
One odd set of experiments involving the reaction of some people to smelling other people’s perspiration suggest that there may be human pheromones, compounds that make someone smell sexy to someone else; perhaps some perfume actually works.’4
Note: DROGA DELLA SEDUZIONE Edit
Still more disturbing is the possibility of drugs that make the consumer credulous, willing to believe whatever he is told, or obedient, or loyal. There is some evidence that oxytocin has such an effect.
Note: DROGHE CHE FANNO SPENDERE Edit
To get some feeling for how a loyalty drug might work, consider the Mule, a character in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, an old and famous work of science fiction.
Note: ASIMOV E LA DROGA DELLA LEALTÀ Edit
the feeling of parents toward their children. Parents love their children and wish to serve and protect them, not because the parent has made an objective judgment about how deserving their children are but because the parent has been programmed by his genes to feel that way, by mechanisms some of which may well be chemical
Note: L’AMORE PER I NOSTRI FIGLI. VERO O CHIMICO? Edit
three different kinds. Drinking from the first eliminates your memory. Drinking from the second makes you hate whatever being you most loved. Drinking at the third makes you fall in love with the next living thing you see.
Note: DROGA E LETTERATURA: IL DILEMMA DELL’ ORLANDO FURIOSO Edit
Suppose we develop much better control drugs; how might our laws and institutions adjust? One possibility is a legal regime under which a contract is binding only if both parties have been tested just before they signed… we should ban all sex not preceded by suitable drug tests.
Note: CONTRATTI AL TEMPO DELLE DROGHE. CHE FARE? L’ IPOTESI PROIBIZIONISTA Edit
One can imagine more sophisticated versions, as defensive technology improves to match improved offensive technology. Perhaps we will eventually use nanotechnology to equip ourselves with microscopic chemical labs that continually monitor our bloodstreams and let us know if there is anything there that shouldn’t be.
Note: TECNOLOGIA DIFENSIVA Edit
DROGHE E LAVORO
So far in the discussion of control drugs I have been assuming that they are given to people without their consent.
Note: MA LA DROGA PER LA PERSONALITÀ PUÒ ESSERE ASSUNTA ANCHE VOLONTARIAMENTE Edit
There are quite a lot ofjobs for which loyalty is an important qualification…. After calculating the cost of watching everyone all the time, I decide to offer two different employment contracts, one paying $50,000 a year, one $100,000. There is only one difference between the two contracts: The second one requires the employee to consume a drug that makes him loyal to the firm.
Note: L‘OFFERTA DEL DATORE DI LAVORO: TI PAGO DI PIÙ SE PRENDI LA DROGA DELLA LEALTÀ
One might object that letting someone agree to such a contract is rather like letting him sell himself into slavery.
Note: OBIEZIONE: MA QUESTA È SCHIAVITÙ!!! Edit
Firms, armies, and nations have been using more primitive methods to try to make people feel loyal for a long time.
Note: LA DROGA DEL NAZIONALISMO È UNA ROZZA DROGA DELLA LEALTÀ Edit
An important question here is whether the drug makes you permanently loyal, as parents are permanently loyal to their children,
Note: LEALTÀ PERMANENTE E PROVVISORIA? Edit
DROGA E AMORE
Falling in love is for some people an intensely pleasurable, indeed addictive, experience, which may explain why some men fall intensely in love with one woman and then, after their efforts meet with success, lose interest and fall in love with another. A famous example is Giacomo Casanova,
Note: LO CHOC DELL’INNAMORAMENTO Edit
I love my wife very much but I am not in love with her in the sense in which I was when I first courted her some thirty years ago.
Note: INNAMORAMENTO E AMORE. CHIMICHE DIVERSE… MA SEMPRE DI CHIMICA SI TRATTA Edit
Parental love features the same intense focus, the same feeling that one being is the most important thing in the world, as romantic love.
Note: LA COSA PIÙ IMPORTANTE DELLA NOSTRA VITA Edit
irrational belief that one person is the most important thing in the universe, the proper target for most of one’s thoughts, hopes, and attention.
Note: IL SENTIMENTO DELL’ INNAMORATO Edit
Humans rarely stay in love; typically, the feelings and associated behavior last for months, not years. Sometimes love is succeeded by attachment, a behavior pattern associated with less intense emotions and one that can, with luck, last a lifetime.
Note: ATTACCAMENTO Edit
Suppose, as seems likely enough, that further research makes it possible to control them, to fall in and out of love, to maintain or destroy the emotions of romantic attachment, to turn love and lust on or off, with a pill, a patch, an injection. What consequences would follow?
Note: IPOTESI: L’AMORE PUÒ ESSERE INDOTTO O REPRESSO ARTIFICIALMENTE Edit
The consequences of involuntary use are obvious and unattractive: a pill that makes a beautiful woman fall in love or, for shorter-term objectives, lust, with you. What about voluntary use?
Note: USO VOLONTARIO E INVOLONTARIO DELLA DROGA DELL’AMORE Edit
Many years ago I spent a long airplane flight – from Bombay to Sydney – next to a woman from southern India, flying out to join her husband. She came from a society where arranged marriages were taken for granted. Her husband had been selected for her by her parents, although she had then met him before consenting to the arrangement. I came from a society where it was taken for granted that individuals found and selected their own mates. She accepted her society’s arrangements and was intrigued by the odd way we did things; I felt much the same in the other direction. And she was not a stick figure in a history or anthropology text but a living, breathing human being, obviously intelligent and thoughtful. Furthermore, on at least our small sample, the superiority of the Western system was far from clear; she was happily married, I recently divorced.
Note: L’AMORE A COMANDO ESISTE GIÀ: MATRIMONI COMBINATI Edit
Perhaps in the brave new world of modern chemistry one will be able to get the best of both worlds. First I select a spouse by some suitably calm and objective analysis, making use of the services of a professional matchmaker to find a woman ideally suited to be my wife – one requirement being, of course, that I am ideally suited to be her husband. After she and I have agreed on the match, either just before or just after the wedding, we take our pills, look into each other’s eyes, and fall deeply and passionately in love. After six months or so of ecstatic but distracting bliss – both of our employers are beginning to worry about declining job performance – we switch the prescription from passion to attachment and so shift into a long and satisfying marriage. If on some suitable future occasion, say a tenth anniversary, we feel in need of a second honeymoon
Note: FORSE IL FUTURO SELEZIONERÀ IL MEGLIO DAI VARI MONDI CHE CONOSCIAMO (MONDO DELL’AMORE LIBERO E MONDO DELL’AMORE A COMANDO). FORSE POTREMMO PERMETTERCI UNA SECONDA LUNA DI MIELE.
“At orgasm, levels of vasopressin dramatically increase in men and levels of oxytocin in women.” 17 The connections between those hormones and the neurotransmitters that seem to be associated with romantic love – dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin – are complicated but clearly exist.’8
Note: SESSO E ORMONI Edit
Which brings us back to one of the central conflicts of our culture: the case for and against nature. We routinely use “natural” as a term of praise: natural food, unspoiled nature, natural childbirth. And yet we have constructed our world in large part to avoid the defects of nature.
Note: E SIAMO DI NUOVO AL DILEMMA MEGLIO NATURALI O INNATURALI?
Unnatural childbirth, up to and including caesarean section (currently more than one-quarter of all U.S. births), is the reason that death in childbirth is now a rare tragedy
Note: IL CESAREO COME SIMBOLO DELL’ARTIFICIOSO Edit
Very few residents of either Chicago or Houston prefer, given the choice, to maintain their houses year-round at their natural temperature.
Note: E CHE DIRE DELLE TEMPERATURE NATURALI. NON SONO POI IL MASSIMO Edit
If not our houses, what about our hearts?
Note: CUORE E CASE Edit
Studying mind drugs by injecting chemicals into people’s brains and seeing how they react raises serious practical and ethical difficulties. An attractive alternative is to observe people who, possibly for genetic reasons, behave in different ways and checking their blood to see what is in it.
Note: PROBLEMA: COME SPERIMENTARE IN QUESTO CAMPO?