Wired has picked up on a US military report that warns of the threat posed by neuro-enhanced enemy soldiers, just released by the “Pentagon’s most prestigious scientific advisory panel”.
The full report is available online as a pdf file, and covers how pharmaceuticals and brain-computer interfaces could be used by enemies of the US to create hordes of sleep-resistant super-intelligent neurosoldiers who can kill at the speed of thought.
Obviously, I paraphrase, but it’s interesting that the report is not your usual blue-sky speculation. It actually covers the science in considerable detail.
It also discusses cultural attitudes to cognitive and brain enhancements of various sorts, and how this might affect how and why they might be used.
Non-medical applications of the advances of neuroscience research and medical technology also pose the potential for use by adversaries. In this context, we must consider the possibility that uses that we would consider unacceptable could be developed or applied either by a state-adversary, or by less-easily identified terrorist groups. In the following, we consider first the issues of what types of human performance modification might alter a military balance, and how those issues can be evaluated. We then address two broad areas where there are significant, and highly publicized, advances in human performance modification. These are the areas of brain plasticity (permanently changing the function of an individual‚Äôs brain, either by training or by pharmaceuticals), and the area of brain-computer interface (augmenting normal performance via an external device directly linked to the nervous system).