Feeds

US says the next war will be all in our minds

Neuroscientists, anthropologists take to the trenches

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The US needs to draft in psychopharmacologists, neuroscientists and even goateed cultural studies experts to fight 21 century wars that will be largely in the mind.

A report commissioned by the Defense Intelligence Agency on Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies predicts a freakish future of advances in neurosciences, and that the US will forget about the battle for the hearts and head straight for the mind.

Advances in functional neuroimaging, for example, will mean the US would literally be able to get into its enemies heads, without necessarily blowing open the heads concerned – those it can lay its hands on anyway. Advance functional neuroimaging are “likely to be deployed in areas such as business, human performance, risk assessment, legal applications, intelligence and the military”, it predicts.

In a conflict context, neurotechnology could “provide insight into intelligence from captured military combatants…to screen terrorism suspects at checkpoints” and the like. It could also be used for the training of the US’ own troops of course.

This will tie in with advances in the detection of psychological states, and the boffins seem particularly interested in how detecting lies might help the US achieve its ends. (So, Vlad, you don’t really want to invade Georgia/Ukraine/Lativia/insert here.)

And once you understand brain states, you’ll of course want to be able to alter them – theirs and yours of course. The report says this will be achieved with new drugs and, more importantly, new ways of delivering them.

The robo-soldier - or as the report puts it distributed human machine system - gets a look-in too. Advances here are likely to come in the form of direct brain-machine interfaces, robotic prosthetics and orthotics, cognitive and sensory prosthetics promising sensory substitution and enhancement, and software and robotic assistants. The report predicts that distributed human machine systems will only be limited by the imagination, and we’re sure they’ll have developed a drug to deal with that soon enough.

While many of these scientific battle fields are areas where the US might be thought to already have a lead, the boffins seem anxious about how much of an edge it actually has. The report points out that when it comes to computational biology and its applications to neuroscience etc. “much of the world is now on par or ahead of the United States”.

At the other end of the spectrum, it warns that on the robowarrior front, research has been “hampered by unrealistic programs driven by specific short term DoD and intelligence objectives”. It also references the “low priority” some of these areas have within the intelligence community.

Another surprise, perhaps, is the importance attached to the “cultural underpinnings of neuroscience”, even going so far as to suggest that “basic and applied social science research into … culture” can help the intelligence community to understand where the technology is going.

This includes using a touch of cultural understanding to anticipate how groups and individuals will react in given situations. For example, research into intercultural management and leadership can warn IC and national security analysts not to assume that western theories can be universally applied.” Who’d have thought it?

Ultimately, it recommends that investment be directed to “neuroscience research on the effects of culture on human cognition with special attention to the relationship between culture and brain development”. So, if nothing else, countries on the wrong end of the US's temper can expect a little bit more understanding in future – at least until the Pentagon develops a pill that’ll turn us all into McDonalds-eating Paris-tards as a prelude to a new era of Pax Americana. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.