Fans of Philip K Dick will be aware that his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (basis for the movie BladeRunner) features an intriguing device called a mood organ. In the story, people can dial a code on the organ to induce a particular frame of mind. Code 888 creates “the desire to watch television, no matter what's on it”. Dialling 3 handily creates the desire to dial. To conclude marital disputes, code 594 engenders “pleased acknowledgment of a husband’s superior wisdom in all matters”. This all sounds very handy but is also clearly pie-in-the-sky. Only it’s not. Science journal Nature recently interviewed Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, who suggests that pharmaceuticals could soon be used to regulate marital bliss. “There are a small number of hormones, such as vasopressin and oxytocin, that might help us form bonds with others,” he notes. “It could be possible to prevent the levels of these chemicals from trailing off, and to infuse romance into fading marriages - like a technological form of counselling.”
Of course, getting Mrs Sneak to swallow a dose of 594 will be the tricky bit...
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