Media personality and self-proclaimed Futurist Nikolas Badminton has been on computers since he was 10. It is almost an extension of his Self. Quite fittingly, he decided to dabble in something many people would balk at. In this day and age, technology has become an extension of our biological bodies. For the sake of knowledge, Badminton put himself through an extensive period of trial and error so-called bio enhancements. What if somehow, we could become more efficient human machines with the assistance of technology? How much better could we make our brain and our body? Could we put in more hours at work? Could we be more efficient in our thought processes? And if so, would there be a physically detrimental trade-off?
Welcome to the world of biohacking.
Toronto filmmaker, Ann Shin’s Smart Drugs lets us experience the world of hacking into our very being to seek personal improvements, thanks to willing guinea pig, Badminton.
There seems to be a collective social obsession with making our bodies look more fit, but what about our minds? Don’t just exercise and diet! Why not also take drugs? They’ll make ya smart! Silicon Valley is the mecca of Smart Drugs. These cognitive enhancement supplements contain ingredients such as caffeine, theanine, plants and amino acids. Sounds safe enough. But over a prolonged period of time, what effects, or side effects do they have? Badminton followed a regiment of Nootropics – one of the leaders in smart drugs. His motivation was not only “for science” but also because he had previously experienced burnout and degenerating health, and had a lot of anxiety about it recurring.
But as soon as he’d settled into the Nootropics lifestyle, he decided to explore other biohacking, well…hacks. How can one not only avoid peak stress, but somehow harness it to be a more brain-efficient human? Try some cognitive control wearing a silly headset! Transcranial Brain Stimulation is a real thing. It isn’t science fiction – science already knows how to stimulate the brain using pulses sent through a bunch of electrodes. And if that isn’t enough, one can always attempt fasting. Because a no-calorie diet seems to be a method of kickstarting our system into high-output activity. One might assume that adding jogging and intense breathing techniques would make a person more exhausted. But according to experts in biohacking, the opposite effect should occur.
And if competitive meditation and an added dose of hip and very sought-after illegal prescriptions of Modafinil aren’t enough, we can always turn to micro-doses of LSD! Modafinil is normally used to treat narcolepsy and shift-work sleep disorders. It can cause headaches, nervousness and anxiety. This is becoming the cognitive enhancement drug of choice for people like Coders. Individuals who sit for prolonged hours staring at numbers and codes way past bedtime, with no care to food or bathroom breaks. This is the lifestyle of people with short deadlines and high expectations from their employers.
Badminton saw the positive and negative effects of biohacking, but in the end had a “smart” piece of insight. Slow down. Cut off the outside world for a few hours a week. No phone, no electronics. It’s not much, but we need to reconnect with ourselves. Humans are not limitless. Nor should we be. We once worked with our hands. These days we work with our heads. Next, there is a hope we might work with our hearts. After all, we’re humans, dammit.
Smart Drugs airs on the documentary Channel on May 12 at 9 p.m. & 12 a.m. ET/PT and May 14 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.