Will Smart Drugs like Modafinil Change the World?
When computers began to appear in the workplace, people imagined a world where your 8 hours of work could be done in just one or two, and we would live in a utopia with free time to spend on whatever we wanted. We got the work done faster, but that just meant that we were more productive. Companies squeezed more out of us and with the internet global GDP soared.
Smart drugs present a similar possibility: Could they change our working world?
What could smart drugs change about us?
Smart drugs like modafinil have the potential to increase our cognitive abilities. As recent studies have shown, modafinil is completely safe and DOES in fact improve your mental processes. Also, considering that modafinil sharpens your focus, you can get more done in less time.
I see this in my daily life as I use modafinil. When I have to make a complicated Excel chart I get more done in less time, and the work is of higher quality because I focus on details and produce a more perfect product. Same goes for reviewing documents in the office. I can stare at a stack of papers and not feel the dread I normally do, and I get distracted less frequently.
So modafinil, and perhaps other smart drugs still to come, could make us more productive.
What happens when smart drugs make us productive?
Historically speaking, whenever workers are made more productive by technology, employers still expect them to work the same amount of hours. Farmers with large tractors simply cleared more land than before, instead of clearing the same amount and taking a nap. Factory workers produced more parts with machines than by hand, but still put in an 8 hour shift. And you now can communicate instantly with the internet, instead of phone calls and answering letters with a typewriter. So you communicate more.
In fact, technology has increased our working hours as more people can take their work home with them.
The trend would likely continue: Companies will expect you to become more productive as you show that you can consistently produce more in less time.
How would this happen?
I don’t want to scare you with a portrait of a dystopia where companies hand out pills every morning. This isn’t Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Instead, I think the competition would come from one another. We already see this in universities: Students compete for the top position in their class and turn to smart drugs to give them an advantage.
And we see this in sports every day, just look at the MLB steroid scandals of the 90s. Players took steroids because other players took them. They needed to compete.
What happens when this generation of smart drug users enters the workplace? Will they stop looking for an advantage? Probably not.
And now you can easily imagine a world in which we all need to take a pill just to stay competitive and avoid being made redundant.
Will Modafinil Change how we Work?
In some fields, we might see modafinil being taken like candy. The lawyer who has to pore over documents would benefit, as would the entrepreneur. A programmer who can stay up all night would have an advantage too. But creative jobs probably won’t be taking modafinil any time soon as there are no reports of modafinil stimulating creativity.
So the answer depends on your line of work. See what your co-workers are doing. And if nobody is doing yet, maybe you should start the trend.