I’ll Take Peeing In a Cup For $800, Alex

Great. Now, in addition to the computers taking over Jeopardy! by the time I get a chance to compete, I’m going to have to worry about opponents amped up on Adderall or some other form of neuro-enhancers.

On the other hand, Phillips said, Provigil’s effects “have attenuated over time. The body is an amazing adjusting machine, and there’s no upside that I’ve been able to see to just taking more.” A few years ago, Phillips tired of poker, and started playing competitive Scrabble. He was good, but not that good. He was older than many of his rivals, and he needed to undertake a lot of rote memorization, which didn’t come as easily as it once had. “I stopped short of memorizing the entire dictionary, and to be really good you have to get up to eight- and nine-letter words,” he told me. “But I did learn every word up to five letters, plus maybe ten thousand seven- and eight-letter words.” Provigil, he said, helped with the memorization process, but “it’s not going to make you smarter. It’s going to make you better able to use the tools you have for a sustained period.”