we've seen an increase in rage, frustration and loneliness
. Apparently, physical proximity is the only thing keeping empathy alive. Of course, this version of a virtual brain wouldn't possess the same worrying super-intelligence that we've been worrying about in our sci-fi, but really, is that comforting? After all, it's rarely the learned scholars who kill you for a hot dog and act surprised when they get the death penalty.
An American neuroscientist named Larry Young, of the Emory University School of Medicine, is operating under the theory that love is a chemical state like any other, and can be controlled as such. His research into prairie voles has shown that lifelong mating can be triggered
, prolonged or even blocked by altering the level of certain chemicals in their brains. By injecting various levels of oxytocin intoÂ a female prairie vole's brain, Young was able to get the animal--a notoriously, fiercely monogamous creature--to immediately
drop her current lifelong mate and bond, just as permanently, to the nearest male instead. In addition to officially using science for the saddest thing ever (crushing the hearts of adorable rodents), Young has also stumbled onto something potentially world-changing, because oxytocin has already shown similar effects in human patients.
How This Will Change The World:
How much tragedy has been caused by irreparable heartbreak? How many suicides were triggered by the lasting pain of shattered or just unrequited love? What if you could just turn off the heartbreak with a pill? Or, conversely, what if you could hook up with the first person you see, roll on down to the neighborhood Walgreen's for your love-pills, and then experience the same euphoria as Romeo and Juliet, no matter what your prior feelings? Control over one of our strongest emotions could eliminate half of the world's untimely deaths, from lover's quarrels to suicides, thus changing the very face of society. Also, emo bands would probably shut up, so that's a clear win.
How This Will End The World:
From an objective standpoint, love kind of sucks. Taking a pre-emptive pill to shut it down rather than risk experiencing heartache in the first place seems pretty tempting. The reason most people find love is that they seek it; they crave the experience even when there's no one there to experience it with. But if the whole need could be done away with from the start, maybe we could finally get some shit
. You want to get ahead at work? Well, having a family takes up valuable time, doesn't it? Anti-love pill. You want to watch the big game, but it's the mandated Sunday afternoon snuggle? Anti-love pill. Your kid's got a big game coming up that a good parent should really attend, but you kind of want to live a life of ceaseless adventure where every night is a guilt-free fuck-party? Anti-love pill!
Sure, a life actively avoiding love sounds
lonely, but that's only from the standpoint of a person who is still capable of experiencing it
. Who needs a loving, stable family unit or, for that matter, procreation in general, when World of Warcraft
just released the long-awaited Ice Elf Orgy Expansion Pack?
Computer Assisted Memory
Computer assisted memory is a recent goal, in that the very idea itself didn't crop up until we started pretty much practicing it anyway. We started uploading family photos to Flickr and burning our home movies to DVD and now that we've pretty much started doing it already, we want to go farther. From the still far-off goal of
silicon enhanced artificial neurons
, to the shaky present-day experiments already underway that simply photograph your days
and archive them in searchable databases - computer assisted memory, in one shape or another, is going to happen.
How This Will Change The World:
What if you could remember everything
? No foreign language would ever get rusty, no keys would ever be lost, no anniversary would ever be forgotten and hastily covered for by purchasing last minute gifts at the gas station. That could all happen with the complete archival of actual memories on an external system. Just imagine it: Terrabytes of storage, and nothing ever forgotten. Wisdom, after all, is little more than the possession of a larger database of memories from which to draw, so picture a world where simply purchasing a new hard drive puts you on par with the Dalai Llama. With an archival memory system, even death wouldn't be the end; your every thought and memory could be accessed by anybody, anywhere, forever. You could have Einstein on a thumb drive to browse through when bored. No genius, artist or visionary would ever be truly lost again.
How This Will End The World:
Where did I put my keyring? That had my flashdrive on it with 2017. That was the year I moved into my new house.
And... oh, goddammit. That was also the year I started using the artificial memory system - that was the year I chose the password...
Goddammit! Joni! Joni have you seen my keyring?
J-Joni? Wait, where's my house? Why am I living at the YMCA? Am I divorced?"
With an artificial memory system, one unlucky day turns you into the guy from Memento
, and since we lost the hard drive that remembers pop culture references for us, we're pretty sure that guy turned out just fine--so everything's cool, homey!
Want to be Internet famous? Cracked can help! Just go here and sign up. No experience necessary.
See what other experiments science is conducting that Brockway thinks will destroy us, in The 5 Current Genetic Experiments Most Likely to Destroy Humanity. Or check out how science is trying to turn our lives into a Marvel movie, in 5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime.
And swing by our Top Picks to see us trying to wrestle Swaim away from the office's new flame drill.
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter to get previews of upcoming articles and trick your friends into thinking you're psychic.
You can pre-order Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead on Amazon, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots because he's such a ray of goddamn sunshine!