In a recent talk to IONS, just posted on youtube, Dean Radin, a researcher known best for his work in parapsychology speculates on the future of consciousness research. Today new techniques are available for expanding our consciousness, not only new drugs but electromagnetic devices that affect the brain’s activity; enhance a person’s paranormal abilities. Are such developments desirable?
The talk includes film clips from recent science fiction movies. Radin points out that while the development of paranormal abilities is explored often in science fiction, few movies treat the development as desirable or positive. Protagonists often end up unable to control their abilities or fall victim to unintended consequences. The subject makes better material for horror movies than for science fiction. If the movies are any guide, our culture is anxious about techniques for expanding consciousness, the development of human-cyber interfaces or of new paranormal abilities. The alienation felt by mutants in the X-Men reflects how people with paranormal activities actually feel. It’s worse in many religious societies today where paranormal effects are regarded as either evidence of saintliness or the work of the devil.
The technologies for increasing our consciousness are there. They will no doubt play a role in our future, but what form they will take, and with what consequences is impossible to predict.