Imagining our modern world without the ease of accessibility to an online globalized community feels impossible — and yet, prior to the invention of the iPhone, today’s constantly-scrolling tech-based society would have been difficult to predict. Silicon Valley, the parts of our lives that sprang from it, and our knowledge of names like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, all owe much to psychedelic experiences.
The minds behind Apple and Microsoft came of age under the sway of the hippie movement, encouraging unconventional methods to redefine technology and society as they knew it. As their tech became part of our lives, the same psychedelic methodologies that helped them create became popularized, and in recent years young tech sector professionals have normalized psychedelic activities like microdosing right at their desks. For better or for worse, it seems we’ve integrated psychedelic use with technological advancement.
Steve Jobs, A Vocal Psychedelic User
Steve Jobs, the late CEO and co-founder of Apple, was very open about his positive experiences with marijuana, hashish, and LSD. In a signed statement for his Department of Defence security clearance, he admitted to taking acid 10 to 15 times between 1972-1974, stating that the experiences were positive and life-changing. He continued to smoke marijuana and hashish through the seventies, and accredited his psychedelic experience among the top 3 things he has ever done.
During these years, Jobs worked for Atari as a technician while travelling abroad to India. He and Steve Wozniak would found Apple in 1976. Jobs carried his experiences with Buddhism and psychedelics with him as he charted a course for Apple to become the multi-billion dollar company that it is today.
Bill Gates, Subtly Experimental
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is coy about his possible drug use. In a 1994 interview, Playboy Magazine directly asked him if he had ever tried LSD. He simply replied, “my errant youth ended a long time ago.” When pressed to clarify he stated, “there were things I did under the age of 25 that I ended up not doing subsequently.”
The interviewer presses him on the many rumours about Gates’ use of psychedelics, to which Gates smiles, but remains aloof. “The young mind can deal with certain kinds of goofing around that I don’t think at this age I could,” he tells the interviewer, and the conversation moves on. However quick this exchange may have been with Playboy, Gates certainly does not condemn nor deny the use of LSD.
Microdosing in Silicon Valley: Then and Now
Although Jobs attributed his hallucinogenic experiences with a spiritual expansion of his mind, and certainly ran Apple in a forward-thinking and unconventional manner, certainly not all of the innovative force behind his technological advancements can or should be attributed to LSD.
It does, however, take an inventive and adaptive mind to design intuitive interfaces, and to develop the software and hardware behind it all. In a 2015 issue of Rolling Stone, Silicon Valley employees anonymously disclosed that microdosing LSD or mushrooms had become a common occurrence in the workplace. They attribute their uplifted energies and creative flows to these microdoses, working through difficult coding issues with LSD as their “healthy alternative to Adderall” (according to psychologist James Fadiman).
Microdosing, which can be as low as 0.2 grams of a substance such as psilocybin mushrooms, is a more accessible form of psychedelic use for those who aren’t interested in a full hallucinogenic trip. Perhaps psychedelics have always been the key to expanding our minds as quickly and as often as our iPhones update.
Carissa is a writer, painter, and actor in Toronto, Ontario. An alumnus of both McMaster University and Centennial College, she channels her creativity into everything she writes with an active intention to connect people through her writing.