A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Years ago, in a June issue of Inc Magazine includes an article, Innovation: The Outer Limits, which captured my attention. It detailed “the hottest, most mind-blowing high-tech products” looming on the horizon. It certainly grabbed my attention, causing me to shudder with glee—really.

First were quantum computers, promising to run circles around the current offerings, reducing hours of calculations to mere seconds. Then there were devices that will detect and respond to brain waves—great for gamers and virtual reality projections. Listed next was manufactured body parts: prostheses, replacement eyes, and synthetic organs. 

Another promising advance lies in the area of nanotechnology with the ability to alter substances at the molecular level and—my personal fav—nanomachines that could be injected into your body to repair, rebuilt, or scour.

Last was the opportunity to chemically enhance the brain, thereby improving memory. This really excited me. Wouldn’t it be great to remember more and quickly recall details? Sign me up! But wait. What about the things you want to forget? That unhappy consideration dimmed my enthusiasm a bit. 

However, what really gave me pause was the recollection of a novel I read in high school (if I can recall something from four decades ago, maybe my memory’s not all that bad after all—but then, why do I sometimes blank on my address?)

The book was Flowers for Algernon (see the Spark Notes to refresh your memory—ironic humor intended). Essentially, it’s about a mentally challenged man who undergoes an experimental process, which catapults him to the genius level. Unfortunately, the mental improvement is short-lived as he soon regresses to his former self, with the implication that he could soon die.

Technology is exhilarating and its implications are exciting, but given the potential downside, perhaps I’m not quite ready to improve my memory after all.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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