Silent Talk Helmet
“Silent Talk” is a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) initiative, funded by the government to produce a non-invasive BCI helmet that would allow soldiers to communicate silently with only their thoughts. The technology would work by detecting “pre-speech” word-specific neural impulses, analyzing them, then sending the information to the receiving partner(s). The technology is still in its infancy, but DARPA scientists are trying to identify EEG (Electroencephalography) patterns that identify specific words, and also if those patterns are universal for every person.
Enhancements to soldiers’ ability to perceive and control vehicles and machinery is currently under investigation. DARPA is proposing a “Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System” which is essentially a pair of BCI controlled hi-resolution binoculars. With these a soldier could subconsciously detect targets up to 10 km away and expand their field of view to 120º. “Thus, future generations of auditory and visual neuroprostheses may allow soldiers to perform better during combat situations through automated detection and interpretation capabilities” (Kotchetkov).
Another enhancement being developed is the concept of telepresence. This involves a soldier on base or in a concealed location having the ability to sense and interact in a removed, real-world location through the use of a mobile BCI unit. Essentially, a soldier could utilize all his senses on a battlefield from a safe location. This technology could be utilized in limited applications by 2015.
Kotchetkov, Ivan S., Brian Y. Hwang, Geoffrey Appelboom, Christopher P. Kellner, and E. Sander Connolly. “Brain-computer Interfaces: Military, Neurosurgical, and Ethical Perspective.” Neurosurgical FOCUS 28.5 (2010): E25. Print.
Researchers have also found a form of non-invasive BCI known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation that stimulates neurons in the brain to affect various abilities. The military is using this in an attempt to either permanently or temporarily increase a soldier’s memory capacity. The goal of this is to make soldiers learn faster and recall their training better once in the field. The same treatment can be used to increase cognitive function, and focus during education and in battle.
Nelson, Jeremy T. Enhancing Warfighter Cognitive Abilities with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A Feasibility Analysis. Rep. no. AFRL-HE-WP-TR-2007-0095. N.p.: n.p., 2007. Print.
Questions to ask yourself regarding super soldiers:
Should anyone, even soldiers, be able to communicate telepathically?
If this technology is created, will it become available to the public?
How could all these things affect war? Are there positives and negatives?
Would these technologies save or destroy more lives?
If the enhancements are permanent, how does that affect soldiers after wartime? Will they still be accepted in society or will they be treated differently?
Links to Additional Information