I have ALWAYS been uneasy about adjusting my state of consciousness via external means, yet even I’m enthusiastic about the social implications of the new “Thync” wearable technology.
Some tech reviewers have been comparing its ambition-enhancing or emotionally centering effects to those of coffee or marijuana, but without the downsides. Its effects are definitely more than the placebo effect for most users, but it seems that for some people its effects can be almost nonexistent or even unpleasant. Contrary to what TV shows and over-excited press releases might claim, human brain science is still only a few steps into a large dark room, and some stumbling about may occur.
The Thync wearable device uses a nuanced and perhaps pioneering method of stimulating our brain by focusing its stimulation upon particular cranial nerves, which in turn signal to our brain & body that it is time either to relax or to be ambitious and productive.
I expect that its effects vary due to neurodiversity, because after all, some people are more receptive, some people are more resistant to everything, and some people are just far more anxious about cues in their environment that their colleagues may not even notice! One tech reviewer testing a beta version of the Thync at MIT surmised that it was less effective in some settings compared to others, and I would expect this considering the different stimuli which our brain is probably still responding to in an office, a classroom, an empty hotel room, or out in nature. I imagine this won’t be as much of a challenge for the Thync “energizing” wearable, but it bears noting that the “calming” wearable (both are sold together) might have to contend with a lot of contrary stimuli from one’s environment. With that said, multiple reviewers reported some surprising and consistent mood effects which demonstrate what this technology can do, and, for this reason, I am excited for this and future versions.
When MIT reviewed the beta version, one Director of Neuropsychiatry it consulted said “one of the benefits of this device is that it’s very, very safe. The worst-case scenario is it does nothing.” I am still a little concerned about its long-term daily use, however, because if people use this once or more a day, will their body adapt to that frequent stimuli in some unexpected way? Even one of the research articles underpinning Thync speaks of the product in terms of daily use, saying: “using TEN [transdermal electrical neurosignaling] in such a manner represents a promising approach to managing daily stress and improving health.”
I’ve seen some worries that the Thync “could become a crutch,” but I have not seen such concerns acknowledge that there are already substances which people are using as a crutch. The Thync and future models could replace substances which people habitually use to the point of building up a tolerance. It is that power to replace everyday drugs that gives me the greatest concern for how the Thync will fare in the media scene. We live in an age not only of innovative possibilities but also of powerful old-world lobbies, which influence the public discourse not with their own mouths but through the headlines of magazines and blogs which they have a strong working relationship with. But I am also optimistic that if Thync is indeed effective then all it will take are a few people who get quality results from it to keep this technology selling, growing, and improving.
Check out this tester’s 2-month review for some great unscripted insights from his experience:
Image credit: Thync
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