21st century soma

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A desirable future may not be attained if a discovery of a superficially benevolent but ultimately destructive invention is discovered and voluntarily or involuntarily disseminated. Such an invention may be a kind of 21st century soma, named after the Soma of Brave New World.

Such states are forms of local minimums in terms of reaching humankind's potential.


  • Wireheading - or simply a cheap and powerful traditional drug epidemic could precipitate social collapse, or even warfare such as in the opium wars of the 19th century
  • Virtual reality - or even contemporary computer games and gambling is addictive to the degree to causing a level of social disengagement particularly in young men
  • Sex Robots - explored in Futurama could cause further social issues already existing the form of pornography causing a similar kind of disengagement
  • General freeloading - Living off the proceeds of crime, surviving off income support (an argument against basic income) or generally 'dropping out'