Artificial Intelligence

Biotechnology has created a completely new ethical debate regarding intelligence performance enhancing drugs and treatments and it has become a big issue on campuses around the globe. The ethical question of students using drugs to enhance exam performance is at the center of the controversy. Proponents of cosmetic neurology (drugs or surgery to enhance or heighten brain function) maintain it is no different than enhancing any other part of the body. Others claim it gives students with access and money an unfair edge that is not based upon a student’s inherent ability. Recently there has been some call to urine test students before exams to ensure they are clean!

Whether we like it or not, as brain function becomes more commonly understood pharmaceutical companies are creating solutions for medical concerns as Alzheimer’s and ADD and these drugs can also be used to stimulate or charge thinking. Drugs like Ritalin and Modafinil are already being used on campuses to keep students alert and focused throughout exams and study. There is also a pharmaceutical branch concerning itself with creating drugs that help perfectly healthy people think smarter, and retain more. Drugs on the horizon include Ampakines which amplify brain cell signals; Mem compounds to enhance memory retention; HT-0712 which alters how short term memory is committed to storage and Gene Therapy which would be going way too far for any student!

The ethical question is whether these drugs will give an unfair advantage over other students and the other important factor is of course, whether students are harming their brains and bodies by ingesting unprescribed medications. The former is debatable and the latter really depends upon the drug and the person. There is also another consideration students may want to consider, and avoid. Drugs can only help memory retention and focus. Aside from the ethical and physical ramifications, students may want to think twice before taking the drugs just in case there is no difference in performance. This I think would deflate even the hardiest academic ego.

Related Links and Resources