Wednesday, August 27, 2003
DARPA's neuroengineering Programs
I know this is going to creep some people out, but -- I don't have much of a problem with this sort of research. Its actually fascinating in a Borg sort of way . . . .
'Brain Interface Program' most lavishly funded of nearly all the DARPA bioengineering efforts ($24 million over 2 years). It is aimed at developing ways to 'integrate' soldiers into machines -literally- by wiring them (remotely or directly) to their planes, tanks, or computers. An implantable brain chip is now under development in this sick program, which has already proudly demonstrated how rats can be turned into living robots through the manipulation of stimulus-response signals in the brain via electrodes.
Sounds cool. Consider this: If you had the option of implanting a chip in your brain, one that gave you 24/7 access to all the printed knowledge of mankind via the web, (enclopedias, thesaurusi, dictionaries, and more), would you do it? I might consider it
The danger would come from the chip's OS -- If it were a Microsoft system, could you imagine what the virusi you could get would look like? Also, there would always be the chance that a backdoor in the code would allow hackers to bury you in disinformation.
"The use of animals in warfare is ugly enough without the further insult to their dignity involved in turning them into involuntary cyborgs," writes James Meek in the Guardian. "And a military command committed to the use of creatures which are part-animal, part-machine, is going to be that bit less reluctant to interfere in its soldiers in similar ways."
Hey, I love animals, but I'm not sure if we are really "insulting the dignity" of rats?
Here are some other interesting projects at DARPA:
A)'Metabolic Dominance and Engineered Tissue' program is aimed at being able to artificially pump up soldier endurance and muscle strength.
B) 'Persistence in Combat' program is a bizarre self-treatment scheme which would include pain-reducing and blood-stopping devices and techniques soldiers would apply to their own wounds -even moderately severe ones- thereby bypassing the need for a medic and enabling a soldier to keep fighting, despite serious wounds.
C) 'Continuous Assisted Perfomance' program hopes to find biotechnological ways (implants, metabolic manipulation, etc) to make it possible to push exhausted soldiers on without loss of performance for up to seven days without sleep.
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