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Vernor Vinge’s “Focus” Becomes Reality

 Assets Resources 2008 01 Ocddrug
One of my favorite sci-fi authors of all time, Vernor Vinge, wrote about an advanced form of slavery in A Deepness in the Sky (a prequel of sorts to his most excellent A Fire Upon the Deepwhich you should read first, btw). The slavery involved virally inducing a form of autism in an individual, Focus it was called, in order to have them operate at beyond-OCD like performance in their jobs. Individuals would be so focused on their work that they wouldn’t care about freedom, personal hygiene, eating, etc. Scary stuff.

Now imagine having the ability to induce that sort of autism by taking a pill, and then taking another pill to turn it off. Need to do some serious number crunching? Trying to meet a huge deadline?

What do you think?

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January 29, 2008 - Posted by | Science and Technology

5 Comments

  1. Interesting…

    I guess if you need it for an all nighter and willing to suffer the consequences, why not.

    I’m not one to self medicate for anything tho. I will suffer thru a cold or flu before I pop a pill.

    This brings up another issue regarding autism.

    Now that you are a new Dad, do you know about the “unsubstantiated” claims that link autism with early child immunization for MMR?

    http://www.cdc.gov/od/science/iso/concerns/mmr_autism_factsheet.htm

    Comment by xraytech | January 29, 2008

  2. yes

    Comment by Mike | January 29, 2008

  3. haha I will gladly take full credit and payment for introducing you to Vernor Vinge. Incidently, he used to teach down here at SDSU. And David Brin (another good author/futurist: see ‘Startide Rising’), used to teach at UCSD.

    To address the point, I think any tool that helps get the job done should not be overlooked, especially for mission critical stuff (and by mission critical, I mean ‘the navigation computer just got fragged by a micro-meteorite and we need to plot a course within 3 days or else we won’t have enough consumables to get home without eating the captain. Whoever got the best grade in differential equations and orbital mechanics; pop this pill and get to it.’

    Comment by Dave G. | January 29, 2008

  4. “that they wouldn’t care about freedom, personal hygiene, eating, etc.”. Hey, that sounds like me when I find a video game that I really like 🙂

    Comment by childeater | January 29, 2008

  5. But seriously, such a pill would be extremely interesting. Like any tool it can (and will) be abused, yet the advances that could result are awesome. What I found even more interesting is the fact that the researchers think they may be able to cure autism that wasn’t induced by their method and even reverse some of the damage after onset – that is something worth developing.

    Comment by childeater | January 29, 2008


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