I think, therefore you aren’t

February 9, 2012 10:23 am

A new report reveals that killer content could be all in the mind

Back in August, The Message reported on the inexorable rise of cyber warfare and the dangers it poses countries as viral content literally becomes the weaponry of the future, only in the here and now. Even in this brave new virtual world, though, there is still a place – sadly – for new and inventive ways of killing people. And the latest sci-fi-inspired Terminator-grade hardware is… the human mind.

According to a report published today by Britain’s prestigious Royal Society, advances in neuroscience could allow soldiers to have their minds plugged directly into weapon systems, allowing them better target those they are trying to eliminate. The technology works in the same way that people are already able to use their minds to control artificial limbs or computer cursors.

‘Since the human brain can process images, such as targets, much faster than the subject is consciously aware of, a neurally interfaced weapons system could provide significant advantages over other system control methods in terms of speed and accuracy,’ the report says.

The report also predicts designer drugs that boost performance in the field, make captive troops more talkative (a bit like the magical truth serum used in Harry Potter) and even make enemy troops fall asleep. It sounds fantastic, but it is already being used successfully on a smaller scale to help US troops spot roadside bombs, snipers and other threats quicker.

However, the report stresses that ‘knowledge and technologies used for beneficial purposes can also be misused for harmful purposes’. One of the authors, Professor Rod Flower, also acknowledges the various moral, ethical and legal issues this technology – known as brain-machine interfaces (BMI) raises, telling The Guardian: ‘If you are controlling a drone and you shoot the wrong target or bomb a wedding party, who is responsible for that action? Is it you or the BMI? There’s a blurring of the line between individual responsibility and the functioning of the machine. Where do you stop and the machine begin?’

You can see more of Professor Flower’s thoughts on the report here:

So it seems that when it comes to warfare, it really is a case of mind over matter. Which is slightly scary way of getting your message across.

 

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