Cybernetically-enhanced soldiers may seem like the stuff of science fiction and movies, but sometimes fiction and reality are a lot more alike than one might believe. The field of cybernetics is one that is constantly developing and innovating and that means that there's likely to be a future in which the military uses enhancements that bring together man and machine. As it turns out, it's something that the U.S. Army is already planning for.
According to a new report from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center which is a research division of the Army that focuses on biological and chemical weapons (via Vice) has outlined what they think cybernetics may look like thirty years from now in 2050 and, well, their vision of the future is one in which machines are used to augment the abilities of injured soldiers, thus creating cyborg soldiers that the American people might not be completely prepared for or comfortable with.
In the report, entitled Cyborg Soldiers 205: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD, it is outlined that while the future may provide an opportunity to create enhanced soldiers, it's one that people might not be completely amenable to thanks, in part, to films like the Terminator franchise.
"Across popular social and open-source media, literature, and film, the use of machines to enhance the physical condition of the human species has received a distorted and dystopian narrative in the name of entertainment," the study says. "Defense leadership should understand that negative public and social perceptions will need to be overcome, if these technologies are to be fielded."
So, okay, people aren't exactly excited about the prospect of real-life Terminators, but they may be even less excited about the specific areas the government is focusing on when it comes to those cybernetic enhancements in the future, areas that would create super vision, super hearing, enhanced muscles/strength and, perhaps the most frightening of all, something the report calls "direct neural enhancement of the human brain for two-way data transfer."
In more basic terms? It seems like the idea is that enhanced soldiers would, with the aid of neural implants, be able to interface with a matrix that would allow them to control machines and technology -- as well as let technology and machines control them.
"The enhancement would not simply entail a user control of equipment (brain to machine) but also transmission to operator (machine to brain) and human to human (command and control dynamics) to enhance situational awareness as drone, computational analytical, and human information is related to the operator," the report explains.
While there are definitely some beneficial applications of this sort of technology, it's also not something that goes without some major questions even beyond public perception. It's very likely that these enhancements will be very invasive -- especially in the case of the neural implant -- and that could create some legal and ethical issue. One of the big questions that researchers had was whether an enhanced human being would still be conserved human under the Geneva Convention, but another, perhaps more terrifying concern is the impact on national security. After all, if these enhanced soldiers can interface with technology, it's possible they could be hacked -- and it may not be something anyone is fully prepared for.0comments
Rise of the machines indeed.
What do you think about the military's outlook on cybernetically enhanced soldiers? Let us know in the comments below.