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    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2010
    Future Soldiers May Get Brain Boosters and Digital Buddies

    Charles Q. Choi
    LiveScience Contributor
    Tue Feb 2, 11:20 pm ET

    The soldiers of the future might controversially boost their brains with drugs and prosthetics, augment their strength with mechanical exoskeletons, and have artificially intelligent "digital buddies" at their beck and call, according to the U.S. Army's Future Soldier Initiative.

    The project is the latest attempt from the U.S. Army research lab in Natick, Mass., to brainstorm what soldiers might carry into the battlefield of tomorrow. A special emphasis of its concept is augmenting mental performance.

    • CommentAuthorZJVavrek
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2010 edited
    About nine years ago, I first played the video game Deus Ex. It was set in 2052 and placed the character in the role of the second nanomechanically augmented agent in the world. Previous generations of augmentation had taken the form of replacement limbs, servomechanics and actuators which made the recipient look like the Terminator. An everpresent theme when the game addressed these concepts was that it was all about efficiency, about getting the most effective soldier. This is why robots were used alongside soldiers. Critics shown in-game spoke of how They were just trying to turn a man into a machine: cold, lifeless, efficient and effective.

    It's chilling and fascinating to read an article like that one, both for two reasons: Because I'm seeing what was portrayed cynically a decade ago be taken seriously in the present, and because the They in this instance are focusing on what really matters as the first step. A cybernetic limb, as our Gracious Host pointed out in Global Frequency, is no simple issue. And what use is are cybernetics without the intelligence driving all the tools? I'm only left to wonder at what point prosthetics/cybernetics will advance enough that a military bean counter will determine that it is more cost effective to give a soldier a combat-oriented replacement limb than to train a fresh recruit to replace him.

    But let me also say ... I don't really object to all this. Portions, perhaps, and I certainly think it requires a close eye, but my concern with performance enhancers, exoskeletal suits, AI assistants, and so on is that they must be done well, not that they mustn't be done. But that goes off onto a discussion of how veterans are and ought to be treated.

    Truly, fascinating stuff, and thank you for posting it. I doubt I would have seen the article otherwise.
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2010 edited

    No problem.

    I have Deus Ex on PS2 but hear the PC version is superior.

    My main concern with these Pentagon and DARPA funded projects to help the "War on Terror" is the possibility of these projects being utilized domestically. The thought of domestic spy drones armed with ballistic missiles and riot cops outfitted with super exo-suits and "brain boosters" gives me chills. And I'm sure that day is not too far off.
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010

    Heh. Reminded myself of an article I read.