Today's teens are sad, mad, discouraged and they wish they felt better. A recent poll conducted by Associated Press-mtvU reveals forty-six percent of teens today say they’re so stressed, they feel hopeless.
Do you know the feeling? The answer is probably yes.
Life is hard, and it’s only getting harder. Crazy weather and climate change. Divisive politics, the Robo-Revolution, and more talk of Universal Basic Income bubbling up. Gender wars. The opioid-abuse epidemic. And so much more.
How will we keep our heads on straight and our spirits from tanking? We have some answers. Soon, a good mood will be ever available, a basic right of daily life. You will glide through your world with a great big grin on your face (or a smaller one, should that be your preference).
Think about it: We’ve entered a Frictionless Era. You want a car, an Uber arrives. You need a place to stay, Airbnb makes it happen. You need groceries, you zip through Amazon’s Go Store, take what you need, and leave, no payment required. No human interaction required either. So shouldn’t you be able to conjure up a good mood to snap yourself out of a funk, or rev up a foggy brain for a business challenge? Of course!
We’re on the cusp of a brave new world in which not only will we renovate our outlook on demand, but artificial intelligence will soon be able to monitor and tweak our mood for optimal performance. It’s a seismic change that will not only transform human interaction but also have deep implications for food, beverage, tech, pharma and other market sectors.
- Hitting New Highs: At the advent of 2019, ten U.S. states had fully legalized marijuana (recreational and medicinal) and another 22 states have strictly medicinal use approved so far. But that’s changing and fast, as more food and beverage companies prepare for the coming high times. (Constellation Brands has invested multiple times in Canada’s mood. Consider Dosist which already enables customers to calibrate their dose of four strains of marijuana to achieve just the right vibe. PotBiotics, described as the Siri of Weed, is another avenue –this time, AI-fueled—that matches the right variety of cannabis for a consumer’s medical needs.
Next: Imagine this being applied to just a crappy day – you’re feeling stressed or depressed, and a perfectly personalized dose of THC is seamlessly sent to your vape pen for relief.
- Dynamic Dosing: It’s not just cannabis that will give us mood control as we move through our lives. LSD is staging a comeback, with micro-dosing (tiny, non-psychoactive amounts regularly consumed) being lauded as the secret creativity hack among entrepreneurial communities. Elsewhere, people are gulping Provigil – a narcolepsy Rx – off-label for focus and concentration. Nootropics (supplements engineered to optimize mental acuity) are downed by Millennials the way Boomers once took their One-a-Days; that is, absolutely every single day. Consumers are demanding mind control, attuned to their biology, and they will have it, whether plant-based or lab-manufactured.
Next: To live in the flow in the future, consumers will expect to break through biological barriers and manipulate their mood. There will be no tolerance for a sluggish mind, a distractible brain, a sad sentiment: Instead, they will dose their way into the mindset their circumstances demand.
- The Responsive Cocoon: Hoteliers like Marriott are already tapping the Internet of Things (IoT) to orchestrate the optimal mood for guests by tweaking the lights and sounds of their rooms. For example, the lights can go brighter and bluer for acuity and energy; golden for calming, (much the way an iPhone can already go on night mode). Hilton is collaborating with NuCalm, a tech device that interrupts the brain’s stress response and promises better sleep and deeper relaxation.
Next: Why should this technology only be available to travelers? Soon enough, your home, your mobile driverless pod, or your co-living space will be able to intuit from your biodata what you’re feeling and curate your environment’s sounds, smells and illumination sources to get you where you need to be – whether that’s soothed, energy-surged, silly-fied, or sensualized. Sensors will parse your pulse, tone of voice, and sleep patterns to proactively help you feel fab all the time. An entirely new era of design will unfurl to accommodate this.
- Getting Psyched: We’ve lost count of the apps and devices out there that promise to help consumers understand and monitor their moods: There’s Happify, Daylio, MoodKit, and many more. What points more strongly to the future is the Spire Stone, a wearable that monitors your breathing and can tell when you are getting stressed and suggest ways to calm down. There’s also DARPA’s Ellie, a bot that reads facial and verbal cues and provides counseling to PTSD patients. So far, it is performing better than human therapists.
Next: We’ll have implanted chips that will tell when stress hormones are released or identify other mood blips and then offset that with cures, connect us with a therapy-bot – or release a cocktail of ingredients that short-circuit a bad mood before it can start. Think of the data scientists and medical technicians who’ll be needed to administer all this – those are your growth industries of tomorrow.
- Automating Your Brain: Our minds are what separate us from our bot friends, but increasingly they will benefit from some hardwiring. Already, China is using special sensor caps to monitor workers’ productivity; here in the US, we’re probing how to go right inside the cranium. Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS, has been used to treat patients with neurological conditions, with small implanted devices working ceaselessly as brain pacemakers to modulate electrical impulses. Promising new research from the University of California, San Francisco, published in “Current Biology,” indicates that there are new targets deep in the brain structure that could respond to similar treatment and lift the cloud of clinical depression. The programmable moods of so many sci-fi stories will soon become reality.
Next: As far futuristic as it may sound, soon many of us may be walking around with tiny implanted devices in our gray matter, sending out subtle impulses that elevate or moderate our mood for a blissful state of well-being – no meds, no therapists, not meditation needed, unless you want it, of course. Sorry, Big Pharma. You’ve just joined the dinosaurs on the scrap heap of history. And after that: Our brains online, our mood being optimized, no device needed. Elon Musk’s Neurallink is a first step (or ten) in that direction.