When I think about the future, I envision mass technological disruptions across the entire landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) being embedded into the very fabric of our architecture and institutions, 3D printing transforming our socio-economic system from scarcity to abundance, and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) unleashing infinite potential in shaping our perceptions of reality.
One could argue that we've already been experimenting with VR/AR via the use of psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin, DMT, etc. But for many, the perception of these drugs tend to carry an unfortunate negative connotation. When people think of someone doing shrooms, a lot of them think of a person going mad in the middle of the woods. When people think of someone doing LSD, a lot of them think of a person believing they're Peter Pan as they hoist themselves off the top of a skyscraper.
The devil may be in the details, but for those who actually experiment with psychedelics, the devil isn't this terrible thing which results in their immediate death or psychological disruption; the devil is the infinite potential of their mind overcoming the many obstacles of reality.
And with this understanding, futurists and psychonauts Jeffrey Lynn Damon and Tina Madry attended this year's VRTO expo in Toronto. It was there they'd discussed "the limitations of our current cultural linguistic models of communication as well as the potential solutions that may result in the transformation of civilization."
In translation, they went into the science and history behind the use of psychedelics and how technologies, like VR, can help people grasp a much more thorough understanding in the potential of psychedelic use.
In accordance with research as of late, the use of certain psychedelics under medical oversight has provided treatments to a variety of conditions, such as depression, addiction, PTSD, etc. But even for those who don't suffer from any of these conditions, the use of psychedelics can be a transformative experience in understanding not just reality but yourself as well.
By using technological mediums like VR and AR, those same experiences can be simulated, allowing people to immerse themselves in worlds of their own creation, or even augment the world that is already around them. Even within the medical field, VR and AR are being used to help treat some of the very same conditions to which psychedelics are being used to treat, like PTSD.
"I surf information waves, waves that can change the mind. Mind-changing drugs, yeah! Alternate reality drugs, yeah!"
- Timothy Leary
By unlocking the potentialities of the human mind via VR/AR, our psychedelic future is unleashed. To mold and shape our reality through our imagination and creativity has been the aspiration of psychonauts throughout history.
The famous psychologist Timothy Leary once referred to himself as a "surfer," envisioning a future where, "[t]o study biology, you can press a button and make yourself part of the human body. You can become a white blood cell and learn about the circulatory system by traveling through an artery. You can call up the Prado Museum in Madrid and study Goya's paintings."
"I surf information waves," Leary would say. "Waves that can change the mind. Mind-changing drugs, yeah! Alternate reality drugs, yeah!"
Though, the question remains: Will you surf the information waves? Will you immerse yourself into virtual and augmented worlds via VR/AR just as psychonauts have done with the help of psychedelics? Will you open up your mind to the possibilities of our impending psychedelic future?