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In Silicon Valley, carried away by new drugs

Silicon Valley again fascinated psychedelics. But modern startups are not interested in the expansion of consciousness. They hope that LSD will make them more efficient workers. People who stood at the beginnings of the computer industry half a century ago thought the same way.

Фото: Depositphotos

About the strange hobbies of residents of Silicon Valley says "Lenta.ru report».

In the 2017 year, 78-year-old psychologist James Feidimen attended a psychedelic drug conference that opened in the heart of Silicon Valley. He addressed the participants with a simple question: “Does anyone take micro doses here?” Almost all 600 people present in the hall raised their hands.

LSD microdose is an invention of Feidimen. His followers use the substance in scanty portions that do not cause a visible effect.

There is no hallucination, no altered state of consciousness, no slowing down of the reaction. After taking a micro dose, you can go to work or sit on the steering wheel - no one will notice.

But the benefit, according to Feydimena, is still there. The psychologist asserts that people who every three days take a microdose of LSD, improve mood, they stop worrying about trifles, they are easier to concentrate on, less distracted and work better. According to him, there are cases in which the substance has saved from depression, relieved cluster headaches and pain during menstruation.

James Fadeyman
Photos: The Psychedelic Explorer's Facebook Guide page

In Silicon Valley, the micro dose mode has taken on such a scale that even the business press writes about it. According to Forbes, LSD has become a kind of doping for people working with high technology. Rolling Stone magazine called hallucinogenic hobbies a hot business trend.

Tim Ferris, the author of How to work four hours a week, claims that psychedelics take almost all the billionaires with whom he is familiar.

Startups rarely care about the expansion of consciousness, but they are ready for any risk for the sake of increasing their own efficiency. "This is a sign of our time," explains one of the lovers of micro doses in the Financial Times. She believes that LSD makes it more productive and creative, helps develop a company strategy and turns it into a networking genius.

The Financial Times cites the opinions of several other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have tried LSD microdoses. The founder of one of the startups said that the substance helps him and his staff to relieve stress. Another supporter of Feidimen’s ideas is taking micro doses in place of antidepressants. According to her, before a nervous breakdown could put her to bed for three days, but now everything goes away in five minutes.

Miron Stolyarov case

James Feydimen became interested in psychedelics in the early 1960's. At that time, LSD was not yet considered a illegal drug, and articles about its “unlimited possibilities” could be found in Time and Life, the most popular American magazines of the time. The young psychologist worked at the International Fund for Advanced Research, created to study the effects of LSD on humans.

Not far from the headquarters of the Foundation were located the research centers of Palo Alto and Stanford, where the modern technological industry was born. And its founder was not a stranger there. The foundation was headed by Miron Stolyarov, who in 1950 developed the first tape recorders and video recorders under the authority of inventor Alexander Ponyatov.

Stolyarov tried LSD with the filing of Alfred Hubbard - one of the main popularizers of this substance.

“In one day, I learned about reality and about us as human beings more than I could imagine,” he recalled his impressions. “I thought that this is the most important discovery that I will ever make, and there is no business more important than unlocking the full potential of LSD.”

At first, Stolyarov tried to interest the leadership of Ampex, which Ponyatov founded, with psychedelics. Nothing happened, but that did not stop him. With the help of Hubbard and a physician friend, Stolyarov took eight of the company's engineers to a secluded mountain hut. There they fed them LSD. The experiment ended in complete failure: in one of the experimental subjects, hallucinogen caused negative experiences. We learned about his “bad trip” on the board of directors, and Stolyarov had to say goodbye to the company.

In 1961, he opened the Advanced Research Foundation and focused on the study of LSD. Over four years, more than 350 people have participated in his experiments, many of whom were at the origin of the IT industry and the Internet.

Silicon Valley historian John Markof believes that this is not an accident. In his opinion, hallucinogens played a significant role in the planned computer revolution.

Doug Engelbart
Photos: Doug Engelbart Institute Facebook Page

Computer revolutionaries

"Psychedelics taught me that life is not rational," said one of the participants in the experiments, Stolyarova, John Gilmore. He was the fifth employee of Sun, which created Java technology, and later founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a human rights organization that fights freedom restrictions on the Internet. Stewart Brand, who in fact became the main ideologue of Silicon Valley, also went through the Advanced Research Foundation. The famous phrase “Information wants to be free” belongs to him.

In 1968, Brand participated in the presentation of Stanford engineer Doug Engelbart - one of the most important events in the history of personal computers. Engelbart demonstrated a prototype of the first system with a graphical interface and a mouse (as in Windows and MacOS), hypertext (as in a browser), video chat (as in Skype) and a powerful text editor that allows you to work together on a document (as in Google Docs).

Engelbart's ideas anticipated the development of technology for several decades. The audience was shocked. “It’s as if I saw the Red Sea open up before Moses,” recalls Alan Kay, the creator of the first GUI systems at Xerox PARC and Apple. “It completely reversed my ideas about what it is reasonable to think in the field of personal computers.”

Engelbart himself believed that LSD was turned over by his ideas about the reasonable. He attended sessions at the Advanced Research Foundation and enthusiastically told others about the benefits of expanding consciousness. When its developers were at an impasse, they took LSD in the hope of finding new approaches to the problem.

Some people did it: during one of Stolyarov’s experiments, the microelectronics specialist saw in front of him the intricacies of the conductors inside the chip and immediately realized where he had made a mistake.

Future Apple founder Steve Jobs tried LSD while studying in Oregon. Together with a friend he spent hours hanging around the garden of Reed College under the influence of drugs. "We were ... in a meditative state," recalls Daniel Kottke, who was friends with Jobs in those years, and then worked with him at Apple. “But this is partly due to the fact that we have been reading books about chakras and psychic energy and chi and the kundalini snake, which must climb along the ridge.”

Much later, the founder of Apple admitted that he considers using LSD as one of the most important things in his life. “LSD shows you that the coin has another side,” he said. “And although you forget it when the effect of a substance passes, you still know what it is.”

Illusion of creativity

Modern lovers of micro doses find the methods of their predecessors irresponsible, dangerous, and sometimes not entirely ethical. With regard to risk, they are partly right - if you believe James Feydimen, they are not even in danger of a “bad trip.”

The psychologist has collected more than a thousand reports on the action of micro-doses. He claims that only five of them have negative effects. In addition, several people told him about depression and anxiety after refusing to take a substance.

Фото: Depositphotos

Feydimen’s enthusiasm is understandable, but from the point of view of specialists, neither the benefit nor the harm of microdoses has yet been proven. "At the moment, scientific grounds look pretty shaky," psychiatrist Matthew Johnson, who studies hallucinogens at Johns Hopkins University, told Vice. “This is a very tempting idea, and I completely agree that now is the time for scientific research with an appropriate control group and a true placebo, which will check whether micro doses give an effect, and if so, how unique.”

The problem, he said, is that no one will risk financing them.

Opinion about the role of psychedelics in the history of Silicon Valley is also not shared by everyone. “The idea was that LSD and other drugs would increase our creativity,” writes Bill Joy, one of the company's founders. “But, like any other substance that people abuse, they for the most part brought us only personal tragedies.” For most, drugs like LSD and marijuana were not given to enhancing creativity, but only to its temporary illusion, and at a high price. ”

Joy is a famous pessimist, but his words about the illusion of creativity are not unfounded. Doug Engelbart admitted that he made only one invention under the influence of LSD.

Once, after many hours of contemplating the wall, it dawned on him that the toilet had to be equipped with a small water mill with a wheel spun up with urine. This did not shake his faith in psychedelics, but he invented everything else without their help.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Drugs and orgies: how private parties are held in Silicon Valley

Our people - about working in top companies in Silicon Valley

From the first person: Russian about how to survive in Silicon Valley

City of Happiness: the story of a Muscovite who moved to San Francisco

Miscellaneous In the U.S. Startup Educational program Silicon Valley
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