The brains of soldiers directly controlling weapons systems? Electrical stimulation to improve brain function and alertness in the army? This isn’t the blurb of a science fiction novel, but a future we could see for the military within the next ten years.
Scientists from the UK’s Royal Society have published a paper detailing developments in the area of neuroscience (science dealing with the brain) that could have security or military applications.
“This new knowledge (of neuroscience) suggests a number of potential military and law enforcement applications. These can be divided into two main goals: performance enhancement, i.e. improving the efficiency of one’s own forces, and performance degradation, i.e. diminishing the performance of one’s enemy,” the Royal Society paper says.
One such development is the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which, in one experiment, increased the test subject detection accuracy of threats like snipers in a virtual reality setting up to twice as fast as those who did not receive the stimulation.
The report also details the potential use of neural interface systems, where brain signals are communicated to machines to operate them. This technology builds on research allowing humans to operate mechanical limbs or computers through brain power.
“The ability to control a machine directly with the human brain could, for example, provide the potential to remotely operate robots or unmanned vehicles in hostile territory,” the paper says.
The research also describes potential neuroscience approaches to degradation of an enemy’s performance, among them anaesthetics and sedatives.