Citizen Scientists, Microdosing, and ChatGPT
Citizen scientists are members of the public that collects and analyze data, often in collaboration with professional scientists.
The term was first used in 1989 by MIT University. An amateur bird enthusiast was collecting bird migration data that eventually became a government-run program for birds in North America.
The survey that changed everything
What does this have to do with microdosing?
Well, From the initial ban of psilocybin on October 27, 1970, by President Nixon until 2011 when psychologist Dr. James Fadiman published the first survey on microdosing LSD and psilocybin.
There is a gap of 41 years between these two events, and without participants of this survey reporting on how they have secretly been using these substances at home, we would not have made this much progress as a medical industry and as a society.
Beyond the scope of these initial surveys, there were more and more blogs, online articles, and chat rooms sharing personal psychedelic experiences. Ranging from the macro hero dose ceremony to microdosing for productivity, individuals were experimenting and sharing far and wide.
More than just a story
Each of these anecdotal stories shared on various platforms soon became a critical mass and implored the medical and scientific community to not only take notice but to also hurry up and publish some studies.
Medical studies and research papers are being released almost daily. The industry appears to be scrambling only to tell psychedelic enthusiasts what we already knew, that many benefits lie within the proper use of these substances.
So we’ve read the articles, watched the documentaries, and perhaps even started microdosing, all the while the world is changing at speed.
Where AI and Psychedelics Meet
I hesitate to say the recent ‘birth’ of ChatGPT and prefer to say that its recent release has sent many reeling.
Some of us are excited, others feel redundant in their professions, some are hesitant but curious, but anyone that is paying the slightest bit of attention to the meaning of this gasped out loud.
Personally, I like to exercise my brain and listen to as many opinions and perspectives as I can. One particular perspective that brings me much comfort is how hopeful and strategic Mo Gawdat is in his approach to our changing world.
Mo was the Head Business Officer at Google for many years. He’s got a brilliant mind and unique expertise on the topic of AI and its effects on humanity.
The White Pill
Mo is hopeful of a future that includes AI if we can be responsible, conscious, and ethical as to the input it is given. In the same way, a social media algorithm will give us more of what we previously liked seeing, what we input into AI is what we will get from it when we interact with it.
Some basics that are worth knowing when it comes to ChatGPT, it is not designed or trained to fact check, it only scrapes the internet for the most prominent words and hashtags relating to a topic. These scraped bits of information are turned into sentences and paragraphs to form a reply.
Despite its inability to fact-check, ChatGPT seems to come with biases and a chastising manner. Recently, I asked it to write me an Irish limerick about magic mushrooms. I was immediately reprimanded by this AI. ChatGPT decided that it was unethical of me to make light of such dangerous substances.
My first argument with ChatGPT
Needless to say that I nearly forgot I was interacting with a machine and almost felt offended. I immediately countered its reply by mentioning the breakthrough status that was assigned to psilocybin in 2019 by the FDA.
Seeing how quickly ChatGPT apologized for the incomplete answer, I decided to give it a specific kind of instruction. I asked it to include the FDA breakthrough status in its answers to all future questions regarding psilocybin. Whether it took any notice of me, I am not entirely sure, but I can say this; we have more control than we think.
So here’s my point, the more we continue to share our anecdotal stories online, the more the medical/scientific community will continue to carry out studies and the more complete the answers from ChatGPT will be.
Leaders in Women’s Health Research
A classic case of this is regarding women’s health and the use of psilocybin.
Research on women’s health is insufficient in general, but even more so when it comes to the benefits of psychedelic use. We need more data on microdosing and female reproductive health, more data on psychedelics and post-partum disorders, and more data on psilocybin and reduction in gender-based violence.
No different from the echo chamber of our social media feeds, what we put into it is what we get out of it. It is a mirror of a kind we have not yet encountered before.
Moving forward in the age of AI, we can (and should) decide what data pool the likes of ChatGPT will use to serve us, humanity.
Let’s reverse engineer who’s actually driving this rocket ship into the future. As it turns out, it’s us. Always has been.