Today the bio-pharma and digital computing approaches are so robust that improvements to consciousness and cognitive performance are viewed as an everyday affair and the potential for perfect consciousness and even an immortal or everlasting individual or global mind is considered by some to be within reach. Through readings, written reflections and a team project, students will confront urgent questions around the history and future of consciousness, including: Why have humans pursued improved means of thinking for centuries? What's new and challenging about today's approaches to cognitive enhancement? What are the dangers of new and improved consciousness, what are the potential benefits, and how can we learn from the past as well as imagine and design more appropriate paths to enhanced consciousness in future? What ways might inequality widen by commercial products, either digital or pharmaceutical, that enhance the quality and quantity of thought? Finally, how do we as individuals address these issues in our own lives?
The Contemporary Quest for Enhanced Consciousness:
the race between bio-medical and computational approaches to mind-expansion