The Pentagon recently released a chilling report describing the potential for integrating machines into soldier’s bodies to create cyborg-type troops with superhuman abilities. And it could happen within the next 30 years.
The study outlined four areas in which soldiers could be surgically augmented: eyesight, muscle strength, hearing, and brain enhancement.
Visual enhancement could allow soldiers to see across battlefields in different wavelengths to identify targets even in densely populated urban cities. To improve muscle strength, scientists could place a network of sensors under the skin that could be stimulated with light. Such muscle augmentation could also allow soldiers to control external tools like drones and weapon systems not directly attached to their bodies. Cybernetic ears could not only improve hearing but also allow communication perceptible only to the soldier, almost like implanting a cellphone inside the ear.
Prosthetic memory chips could enhance brain function, or doctors could connect soldiers to a matrix that would allow troopers to control weapons through their thoughts. Such technology could also allow a machine to control a soldier or one soldier to control another.
The report raises numerous concerns about ethics, morality, public safety, cybersecurity, and the laws of war. The authors called for careful consideration of those aspects of the research but concluded that work on cybernetic soldiers must move forward. “One could argue that failure to invest in responsible development of these potentially lifesaving technologies would be unethical,” the report’s authors stated. —J.B.