The Situationist

Archive for August 14th, 2008

The Military Meets the Mind Sciences

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 14, 2008

Yesterday, Brandon Keim published a disturbing article, “Uncle Sam Wants Your Brain” in Wired Science. We’ve excerpted his introduction below, and recommend the entire article which is here.

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Drugs that make soldiers want to fight. Robots linked directly to their controllers’ brains. Lie-detecting scans administered to terrorist suspects as they cross U.S. borders.

These are just a few of the military uses imagined for cognitive science — and if it’s not yet certain whether the technologies will work, the military is certainly taking them very seriously.

“It’s way too early to know which — if any — of these technologies is going to be practical,” said Jonathan Moreno, a Center for American Progress bioethicist and author of Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense. “But it’s important for us to get ahead of the curve. Soldiers are always on the cutting edge of new technologies.”

Moreno is part of a National Research Council committee convened by the Department of Defense to evaluate the military potential of brain science. Their report, “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies,” was released today. It charts a range of cognitive technologies that are potentially powerful — and, perhaps, powerfully troubling.

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To read Keim’s summary and analysis, click here. For some related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of Soldiers,” “The Disturbing Mental Health Situation of Returning Soldiers,” Our Soldiers, Their Children: The Lasting Impact of the War in Iraq,” and “The Situation of a “Volunteer” Army.”

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