Soldiers who see in the dark, communicate telepathically, or fly a drone by thought alone all sound like characters from in a science fiction film. Yet research projects investigating all these possibilities are under way in laboratories and research centres around the globe as part of an upsurge of interest in the possibilities of human enhancement enabled largely by expanding knowledge in the field of neuroscience: the study of the human brain and nervous system.
In order to help in understanding the possibilities and hazards posed by human enhancement technology, Drone Wars UK is publishing ‘Cyborg Dawn?‘, a new study investigating the military use of human augmentation.
Human enhancement – a medical or biological intervention to the body designed to improve performance, appearance, or capability beyond what is necessary to achieve, sustain or restore health – may lead to fundamentally new concepts of warfare and can be expected to play a role in enabling the increased use of remotely operated and uncrewed systems in war.
Although military planners are eager to create ‘super soldiers’, the idea of artificially modifying humans to give them capabilities beyond their natural abilities presents significant moral, legal, and health risks. The field of human augmentation is fraught with danger, and without stringent regulation, neurotechnologies and genetic modification will lead us to an increasingly dangerous future where technology encourages and accelerates warfare. The difficulties are compounded by the dual use nature of human augmentation, where applications with legitimate medical uses could equally be used to further the use of remote lethal military force. There is currently considerable discussion about the dangers of ‘killer robot’ autonomous weapon systems, but it is also time to start discussing how to control human enhancement and cyborg technologies which military planners intend to develop. Read more