“Brain-Computer Interfaces: US Military Applications and Implications” — RAND Corp. (2020)
By Joe Allen/Singularity Weekly
January 21, 2022
Brain-Computer Interfaces: US Military Applications and Implications (pdf)
Power corrupts. The wires woven into your brain corrupt absolutely. And if those don’t corrupt you, the resulting brain infection will.
Repeating a conspicuous pattern, the RAND Corporation can barely contain their excitement about brain-computer interfaces. The dream of hooking the embodied soul directly into a god-machine is too tempting to resist:
The 86 billion neurons of the human brain represent humankind’s primary evolutionary advantage and, perhaps, an area of untapped potential. … What will happen when human brains are freed of their corporeal confines and can control machines directly? …
The technical means for this brain-body bypass are BCIs, defined as methods and systems for providing a direct communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device, with bidirectional information flow (between the brain and a device).
We’re talkin’ about using thoughts to control drone swarms, machine-gun turrets, and robotic dogs.
We’re talkin’ about WiFi-enabled telepathy:
A natural extension from research that aims to read brain signals, and to send or implant information in the brain, is brain-to-brain communication.
At the next level, we’re talkin’ about true communion with artificial intelligence. Before long, we’ll talk about it using nothing but the iTrodes in our brains:
Data (or information) from a human brain can be used not only to inform assessment tools or to drive systems but also to inform software with cortically coupled AI. … This information can then potentially help train an AI system. …
This use of BCI represents a heightened level of human-machine teaming, allowing a human to think with a machine (or a computer) or, more specifically, integrate human thoughts or data into a process conducted by machine. … Such teaming is of particular interest to members of the AI community who are exploring methods and approaches for managing and “controlling” AI.
BCI may be able to provide this tool. Elon Musk, the founder of Neuralink, a relatively new company focused on integrating humans with AI, suggests, “Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem.”
We’re talkin’ about humans merging their minds with what Musk calls “the demon”—using tax-payer money:
The DARPA Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program is developing invasive systems that can communicate clearly and individually with any of up to one million neurons in a given region of the brain, and this includes the ability both to transmit to the brain and read from the brain with some neurons.
While current invasive devices may incorporate something on the order of 100 channels, this project strives to read 106 neurons, write to neurons, and interact with 103 neurons full-duplex, a far greater scale than is possible with existing neurotechnology.
Another DARPA program, the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program involves a noninvasive system capable of reading from and writing to multiple points in the brain at once.
We’re talking about trans super soldiers using cyber-psychokinesis to rain hell down upon the earth. Naturally, the top brass are stoked.
In the Age of AI, a meager meat-head is lunch for the dogs of war:
Regarding the potential application of BCI, the future warfighter is likely to have increased requirements to:
• digest and synthesize large amounts of data from an extensive network of humans and machines
• make decisions more rapidly due to advances in AI, enhanced connectivity, and autonomous weaponry
• oversee a greater number and types of robotics, including swarms.
The solution? Jam a trode into their cerebral cortex. Victory will go to Humanity 2.0.
NOTE: This framework was used to support game play [simulation] but does not reflect a technical maturity assessment | Page 17
There’s only one roadblock to this “inevitable” progress. No one in their right mind wants a trode in their head:
[W]e recommend that DoD [US Department of Defense] address the trust deficit.
[C]ultural barriers to BCI, particularly among infantry service members, are likely to be high. Trust barriers could be mitigated through heavy vetting and testing in noncombat scenarios…and an initial focus on noninvasive measures and medical applications. …
Acceptance of BCI may also be complicated by a general phenomenon referred to in the bioethics community as the “yuck factor,” in which a negative emotional response is provoked by new advances in biotechnology. Lack of trust would likely be more acute for invasive BCI, which requires alterations to the human body and poses health risks, such as infection.
Trust could also be influenced by the scope of the information accessed by BCI technologies. Service members may not want to provide the U.S. government, or its machines, with access to the inner workings of their minds.
I mean, if you can’t trust your own military-industrial complex, who can you trust?