From the rising popularity of nootropics — those smart supplements and neuro enhancers designed to improve cognitive functions and emotional states — to the emergence of wearable devices that promise altered moods, it’s clear that EmoTech, or emotional technology, is an emerging industry worth watching.
I’m defining EmoTech here as any technology that has as its end goal the alteration of human moods or emotional states. Of course, we as humans have been using chemical substances, from coffee to beer to cannabis and other natural drugs, for thousands of years. But what’s new is the degree to which we are beginning to understand the brain and how to hack our own biology. It’s not just about quick fixes of stimulants or depressants, but electricity, magnetism, and more.
As an example of new EmoTech, here is Thync, a mood-altering wearable that promotes calmness and/or boosts energy (video from TechCrunch):
Fascinating, but in the future, imagine EmoTech at the nano scale, and everywhere. I can envision a nanotech system in my brain that releases chemicals according to my desires. I could bliss out or indulge in an hour of sadness for variety’s sake. I could become gregarious or outgoing if I wanted, just by dialing up the right emotional state. And so could everyone else. We could gather in happy bliss gardens to smile at each other or gather in a sad bar to mope a bit to some downbeat music. Whatever we choose at the moment. It might help us all achieve self-actualization, or lead us to new heights of human diversity. Imagine anger fetishists or fear daredevils, for instance; as long as there is choice, humans are likely to make interesting choices.
The possibilities of EmoTech seem endless, and perhaps strange, and the social and ethical complications are many. And we’ll likely be wrestling with these complications soon.
Special thanks to my futurist friends at our monthly Sushi and the Singularity meetup in Scottsdale for inspiring this post. 🙂