Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey, man! Do you i-Dose?

Those crazy kids today.  When I first heard of this concept, I thought it was the most transhuman, cyberpunk notion I had heard of in a long time.  I mean, something straight out of a Gibson novel.  Imagine getting high off of a digital drug; nothing to be smoked, swallowed, ingested, or even absorbed through the epidermis.  
I also thought it was a steamy load of manure, wafting its way into the nostrils of panicked suburban parents.
The act of "i-Dosing" is undertaken via a pair of headphones.  Two audio waves played at slightly different frequencies create a binaural effect that supposedly transports the listener into an altered state.  It's not an overly flawed hypothesis.  If something affects the inner ear it will therefore be affecting the brain and how one perceives their surroundings.  Plus, sonic "drugs" were experimented with back in the 1990s as painkillers for wounded soldiers.  We never quite got it to work to that end, but there is a bit of evidence that shows sonic treatments have benefits for anxiety and out-of-synch sleep patterns.
But does it work as a narcotic?  I'm not going to post any links to i-Dose videos, but just go to YouTube and do a search.  Doubtless a multitude of hits will turn up.  Each video comes with ominous warnings for the user.  "Nausea, carpal tunnel, and irreparable brain damage" could result if one stops the video before it is over.  There are also copious clips of teens in the midst of "getting high" off of the stimuli.  Yet when intrepid people of clearer minds have attempted to i-Dose, nothing happened...except that they had to sit and listen to an annoying tone for a few minutes.  One man even stared death right in the face and cut the video off halfway before it was over.
In other words it's a big joke.  It's psychosomatic.  The idea of getting sonically high has already predisposed the user's brain into doing so.  Add in the warnings and disclaimers and you have an anxious state of anticipation.    Sorry to bust your bubble, folks.
The concept of a virtual or digital drug still fascinates me though.  If Pokemon cartoons can induce epileptic seizures, it would stand to reason that a formulated and programmed combination of Bowie's "gift of sound and vision" should be able to cause a sedated or hallucinogenic response.  Wired Magazine even asked if future politicians will maintain that they did i-Dose, but it was on "mute."
In the meantime, I'll just stick with booze.  Until I can get a chip implant that releases a small but steady stream of alcohol into my brain throughout the day.

Now playing: Portishead

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1 comment:

  1. From Facebook:
    Ghost Dogg says
    "iAdmit iDose on iCarly. Don't judge me!"

    He's a card. :)