illustration by Kirsten Zirngibl
this post originally appeared on Neurohacker Collective
The term ‘hacker’ has its origins in computer programming subcultures from the ‘60s, and was used to describe people who wanted to take on hard problems in a spirit of playful exploration and a resistance to ‘unearned’ authority. Although the methods, means and intentions of hackers varied widely, all seemed to share a unique ethos that mixed a deep commitment to individual autonomy and agency with an equally deep commitment to collaboration and co-creation.
Over time, the concept of hacking has traveled far from its origins, finding its way into a number of domains like Biohacking, Consciousness Hacking, Flow Hacking and Life Hacking. Each is a kind of hacking because each shares this ‘hacker’s ethos’ and a commitment to using it to find the most effective ways to optimize the human experience.
We call the common thread that links these hacking communities together, ‘empowered responsibility.’ This notion expresses the dual recognition that we are no longer able to rely on external authorities to take care of us (in any domain) but through a combination of ubiquitous information, individual experimentation and open collaboration, we are increasingly empowered to take responsibility for ourselves.
In the Biohacking community, the spirit of empowered responsibility drives the process of optimizing one’s biological health and performance. Biohackers learn from each other how they can modify their nutrition, exercise, sleep, movement, and mindset to achieve the specific kind of well-being that they individually desire.
The Consciousness Hacking community takes empowered responsibility in using technology as a catalyst for psychological, emotional and spiritual flourishing. They utilize mindfulness techniques and biofeedback tools for self-exploration, taking personal responsibility for their conscious experience in this most individual of journeys.
Emerging from within and alongside these movements, we are observing the coalescence of a new and important domain: Neurohacking.
Whereas biohacking concentrates on the body, and consciousness hacking explores the inner experience, neurohacking is somewhere in the middle, focusing on the mind-brain interface – the intersection of neurology and consciousness. Specifically, neurohacking involves applying science and technology to influence the brain and body in order to optimize subjective experience.
The desired outcomes of neurohacking cover everything from focused productivity, to expanded creativity, more restful sleep, reduced anxiety, enhanced empathy, and anything else that contributes to the psychological well-being and emotional health of whole, thriving human beings.
The technologies of neurohacking run the gamut from chemical technologies like nootropics and entheogens, probiotics to support the gut-brain connection, bioelectrical technologies like neurofeedback and transcranial stimulation, photic therapies like low level laser therapy and all the way to embodied practices like somatics and meditation. So long as there is a scientifically accessible biological mechanism for effecting subjective experience, it belongs in the domain of neurohacking.
Of course, like all emergent phenomena, neurohacking didn’t just come from nowhere. For years there have been many movements and communities out there, playing in and pioneering some aspect of the neurohacking space.
Some of these domains include:
- Experiential Technology
- Consciousness Hacking
- Flow Hacking
- Quantified Self
- Transformative Technology
- Calming Technology
- Transcendence Technology
- Positive Computing
- Positive Psychology
We propose that it is now timely and useful to perceive the commonality among these different movements and communities as shared aspects of Neurohacking. And in an effort to make these commonalities more visible and legible to each other, in the upcoming weeks we will take a deeper dive into each, highlight some notable people and projects in each space and explore the frontiers of the community from the point of view of Neurohacking.
In our next post, we will begin this exploration with the domain of Nootropics.