Every day, our lives seems to grow dangerously closer to resembling a science fiction novel. The US military shows no interest in diverting from this fate, according to Tom’s Guide, as they are exploring the potential to control airplanes and weapons through human consciousness and neurology.
The idea itself is not exactly novel. The first human neuroprosthetic device came to be in the mid-1990s and allowed patients to neurologically control artificial limbs after surgery. Recently, a team at Carnegie Mellon connected two brains by using a machine that transferred information wirelessly.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a part of the United States Department of Defense that is responsible for developing new technologies for the military, is leading the charge towards mind-controlled weapons systems. They have two ideas as to how to go about the development.
The first is non-invasive, employing a sort of helmet that transmits radio frequency waves in and out of the brain. This would be made possible through ultra-sound, light, RF, and/or magnetic fields and would require algorithms to decode and encode the user’s brain and its motor and cognitive signals.
The second option is the “minutely invasive neural interfaces” which could just as likely be an idea stolen from a Black Mirror screenwriter’s desk as it is to be a scientific process developed by the US military. The idea is that the user would intake a substance, whether orally, through a nasal spray, or an injection, that connects their neurons individually. This is referred to as single neuron resolution and doesn’t affect areas of the brain the way the first option does.
DARPA’s mind control project, known as N3, is ambitious but not impractical. If successful in the military, it could be a quick transition to adapting the technologies to civilian, economic, and social uses.