December 3, 2010

Jonathan Moreno: "Enhancement and National Security" [CFI conference on biomedical enhancement]

Johathan Moreno, author of Mind Wars, 2006, presenting on Enhancement and National Security. I blogged about his book here. He's also co-author of "Slouching Toward Policy: Lazy Bioethics and the Perils of Science Fiction" which I blogged about here.

National Security, the Brain and Behavior: Post WW II-era:
  • Hallucinogens
  • Neuropsychiatry of stress
  • Personality theory
  • Parapsychology
  • Performance enhancement
"Brainwashing" was an immediate concern after WWII. Work on hallucinogens took off soon thereafter, including extensive work by the CIA on LCD. Even ESP studies (by J. B. Rhine), coined the term "Psiops."

Quote from that time:
“The claimed phenomena and applications”…presented by several military officers, “range from the incredible to the outrageously incredible. The ‘anti-missile time warp,’ for example, is somehow supposed to deflect attack from nuclear warheads so that they will transcend time and explode among the ancient dinosaurs….One suggested application is a conception of the ‘First Earth Battalion,’ made up of ‘warrior monks’…including the use of ESP, leaving their bodies at will, levitating, psychic healing and walking through walls.”
"The Men Who Stare At Goats" [trailer]:

Today, some remarkable work is being done with fMRI's. Mapping and baseline readings currently being collected, can be used to understand and predict human behavior. Can show your thoughts 'on screen.' Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) induces changes in brain activation. Could be used to alter a person's social behavior or attitudes. Influences brain functions including physical movement, visual perception, memory, reaction time, speech and mood.

Optogenetics: Seems to provide more specific information and control over neurons and their transmission.

Check out Giving the Grunts an Upgrade graphic from Wired (2007). Much of these solider technologies are available now. Not to mentioning the networking capabilities now at hand.

Potential for augmented reality. Soldiers will have their realities augmented -- e.g. a building painted in red signifies dangerous activity. Network effects: Objects tagged based on intel.

The "Anti-Conscience" pill. Beta blockers can be used to treat stress, prevent PTSD. Suppress release of hormones like norepinephrine that help encode memory. Might also reduce guilt feelings.

The trust drug? Natural oxytocin production is associated with trust behavior. May be artificially administered in a spray to encourage cooperation. Use in interrogations?

National Research Council May 12, 2009 predictions:

Near term (within 5 years)
  • Immersive virtual reality
  • Heartbeat variability
  • Galvanic skin response
Medium term (5-10 years)
  • In-helmet EEG for brain-machine interface
  • Head and torso impact protection
  • Biomarkers for predicting soldier response to environmental stress
Far term (10-20 years)
  • In-vehicle deployment of transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Brain scanning to assess physiology
  • Ongoing (within 5 years with continued updating)
  • Field-deployable biomarkers of neural state
  • Biomarkers for sleep levels
In addition, advanced "lie detector" tests. Including portable lie-detector tests.

  • 90% of what DARPA does is bunk
  • There is no gene that is going to tell you who a terrorist is
  • There is no scanning technology that is going to tell you the intention of a would-be terrorist
  • No evidence that oxytocin was used in Guantanamo
  • Oxytocin makes you more trusting, but not more gullible
  • "Enablers" for soldiers, aka enhancements, may be detrimental to soldiers post-deployment: this is a potential problem. It is also a current problem ie PTSD; "it's a problem, but not necessary our problem" - DoD
  • "Everybody who goes to war feels they've been experimented upon"

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