by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright July 2014
How we will be mind altering in twenty years will be a mix of old and new. By today's standards it will be a surprising mix, as in, some of the new ways will not be things we have thought today. What won't change is that the various communities on earth are going to be strongly judgmental on what are good ways and bad ways, and the choices will vary from community to community. This means the "war" on bad ways isn't going away. Every community enjoys being judgmental on mind altering way too much to give up on criminalizing some forms. And some of those criminalized forms will be wildly popular.
What will change with time are the details. There will be more cures for traditional mind altering abuse. There will be more fads that explore new ways. The constant is that young people will be constantly searching for new ways of mind altering.
Some of the current hazards will become anachronistic. In an era of ubiquitous driverless cars, mixing driving and mind altering will only happen by deliberate choice, not by unfortunate circumstance -- getting home from the bar of twenty years from now will never require a drunk person driving, or any person for that matter.
How we communicate and who we communicate with are going to change dramatically. We are going to be using communication devices that are smaller and attach closer to the brain. We will start with a lot more wearables and then add implants. We will also be doing a lot more communicating with cyber entities who also inhabit the communications web. One result of this revolution is the definition of mind altering will change.
Another dramatic change is that what people will be doing is going to change so much. People aren't going to be operating heavy machinery, computers will be. This means that the typical human can stagger in drunk to a yoga class, but they won't be able to stagger in drunk to drive a car or run a cargo crane. This is going to take a lot of risk out of mind altering.
As our health technologies improve, our ability to control mind altering will grow. We will be able to turn it on and off faster, and we will be able to widen the variety of what is experienced in the altered state.
This vast increase in control is going to lead to many surprises. At this point I really can't begin to guess what they will be in any meaningful way.
Mind altering is so close to being crazy that it will deeply scare many people. It does now, and this isn't going to change. This means that the vigorous controversies over what are "OK" ways to mind alter and what are "dangerous" ways to mind alter are going to continue. The details will change, but the existence of these two sides will remain a constant.
How much criminalizing will be applied to the dangerous side can change. But how it will change is another surprise.
Mind altering practices are going to be an area that undergoes huge transformation over the next twenty years. Thanks to our communications revolution and our better health understanding, the possibilities are going to dramatically expand. Thanks to humanity becoming divorced from operating dangerous machinery and the better health understanding, the risks of recreational mind altering are going to be reduced.
But how the community will respond to this, how the "War on Drugs" will change, is difficult to say. Mind altering is still going to be deeply scary for many people to watch and experience, so there will still be strong impulses to be judgmental about it.