The Future of Bioenhanced Super Soldiers, Pt. 1 (Ft. Peter Emanuel and Diane DiEuliis)


“The Future of Bioenhanced Super Soldiers, Pt. 1 (Ft. Peter Emanuel and Diane DiEuliis)”
“Welcome back to another episode of military.com’s flagship podcast left of boom i’m hope hodge sec managing editor for
news and your host on this show steve rogers was just an ordinary young man who tried to enlist to fight in world war
ii but was turned away due to health problems until that is he was approached by a defense department scientist who injected him with a special serum that turned him into the perfect specimen of military strength and stamina that’s right i’m talking about captain america when marvel’s beloved comic book hero was first introduced in 1941 such a biological upgrade was strictly in the realm of fiction, but now some say it’s the next chapter in warfare and one that will be here sooner than you might think the field of biological enhancements for the warfighter encompasses everything from dietary supplements and neural stimulation to bionic limbs and brain augmentation and it raises a horde of new questions about ethics in the military and society
increasingly the dominant questions on the threshold of military technological development are becoming not what can we do but what should we do and what happens if we go too far on this episode we’re joined by dr peter emanuel u.s army senior scientist for bioengineering and dr diane dewulis
senior research fellow at national defense university
in 2019 they co-authored a paper on the cyborg soldier,
the result of a secretary of defense red team task force
exploring the future of man machine enhancements and the war fighter of 2050.”
“We are entering the fourth industrial revolution this biological revolution um and we’re seeing the convergence of
technologies in microelectronics nanotechnology artificial
intelligence machine learning and automation and so
that technology is happening so fast and that convergence really adds to it, but to some extent we’re we’ve already seen the integration of man and machine over many years the use of defibrillate of pacemakers to some extent um we’re already really seeing uh mankind becoming more intimate with
technology uh just case in point when was the last time you really left the house without your cell phone, so some of our studies showed that you know some some authors that have done some groundbreaking work really actually referred to us as
infant cyborgs well that’s a great that’s a great lead in by peter to start this discussion.”
“what’s hype, what’s real? What can we expect… what you might see in the movies or what you might see in science fiction we want to get some ground truth and so and so I think our study did that pretty well.. the senior leadership hates surprises…”
“We know that man and machine is coming together, we see this cyborg future.”
“how would the military leaders pick what they might adopt
and we realized that we based it on capabilities when you think about a soldier you think about what they can do not
what the technology is and so we came up with nine of them so the most important being: situational awareness, what’s going on, strength and speed number two, imaging and sight being able to perceive what’s out there communication our ability to share information, physiology, endurance, sleep, health,
control of virtual avatars of technology outside of your body
our attention and memory learning and finally sense of smell and all factions so and and from that we picked four
vignettes and from that all the discussion came.”
“It’s futuristic kind of like science dystopic science fiction and the first technology that you’ll discuss is ocular enhancements literally implants in the human eye that could increase awareness and analysis Dr Giolas if we could start with you can you tell me about this line of effort
and why you chose to highlight it as peter said because we looked at a bunch of capabilities that we thought
were going to be areas where um war fighters would want
to have extended enhancements of course this is one of them right visual capability is one of them.”
“cool optogenetic things like real-time interfaces the ability to see things in different ways and connect to technology through the human eye but one thing i find
fascinating about this um particular vignette is that
we already do enhancements on our eyes right and people in the military do as well so the most simplest basic thing is
we wear glasses and we wear contacts to give ourselves better visual acuity um and then we go a little beyond that right and you can have an operation that fixes the shape of your lens of your eye if it doesn’t enable you to see with
perfect acuity right so we’ve been doing those kinds of things for warfighters already so it’s just taking it to that next level and giving the application of technology to
expand um what’s possible in in the visual spectrum um so peter i don’t know i don’t know what you think about that or what you want to add to that one.”
“do not just making that better but making it beyond something that that is just better, our colleague daniel actually uh in his discussions he said if you are injured and you lose function and then you bring it back with a cyborg
that’s an enhancement of that loss but if you go beyond the normal bass line that’s an augmentation right well put so since we’re talking about this i want to skip down
the list a little bit and talk about auditory enhancement which i think also falls into this category you know
you at the baseline it sounds a little bit like a next level
hearing aid but then you talk about enhancements that could even pick up what you describe as imagine speech which sounds like mind reading can you talk about that and what it
might enable the warfighter to do so what you’re looking at right now is the auditory enhancement isn’t just about restoring your hearing it’s also not just about being able to
echo locate and hear at much greater distance but in effect you’re also providing yet another portal for information to flow in and so i can be consuming uh multiple lines of communication like an earpiece um that is essentially filtering in through that and so it’s really not it’s not mind reading um it’s really just it’s layering data
in a very complex fashion and the same thing could be said for the visual in that i could theoretically layer
um all of my different kinds of information and then in my mind just swipe with my hand to the left like i was on one of
an app to see all right show me all the targets show me this
uh let me listen to all of my uh fighter aircraft patch me in over my ear piece you know and all of this isn’t with
i’m not pushing buttons to do this but in my head i can just move through and be like all right i want you to filter out everything.”
“optogenic body control and it sounds like essentially a bodysuit or uniform with an implant element that can
make a warfighter outperform their potential basically.”
“so this really stems out of a really really rich body of research on um connecting the musculoskeletal system to exoskeletal elements and things like that
so it goes everything from you know prosthetics that we want to try and um connect to the brain um throughout all of that so really this is coming from a lot of trauma medicine and expanding into this particular um vignette one thing i like
about this one as well is that i think the ability to perform
physically um as is sort of proposed throughout this one but then in an enhanced way is a very fundamental need of war fighters and so in that way i see this one and peter you can you can say what you think about this but i see this one is as sort of less should i do it or should i not do it um
from that perspective like when we talked about the invasiveness of doing an um an ocular enhancement to the eye
i see this one as a little more of i’d be willing to put on a suit and take this enhancement and then you know take off the suit or how you know however that’s going to um develop so i saw this one as more of a fundamental basic thing that a war
fighter would would like to have um to be able to be able to
better perform physically and then be connected um in that way.”
“the other things you’ve been talking bout direct neural enhancement of the brain, so you’re talking about warfighters
controlling not only something like their own wired end prosthetics but also objects and machines using their minds
dr deulas what do you envision this technology looking like
and this is something i found particularly interesting who might be most likely to to get it in the military
setting wow that’s a big question um well first
let me just back up and talk about this one vignette in particular because of all the vignettes that we discussed
um throughout the study this is the one that had the most
potential as a game-changing kind of technology um not just for defense but in the face of what our adversaries might be doing and how um technology is changing our posture with our adversary so the other ones we could look at those and say yes if our adversaries are adopting more physical enhancements if they’re adopting auditory or other kinds of enhancements we would see these things growing a pace in our militaries and and other countries militaries but this is one where um we really need to think about what are the implications of this because we’re talking about when you’re looking at direct enhancements of the brain that’s a fundamental change in the behavior of human beings right it fundamentally changes you had.”
“just talk about operationalizing the technology so now in effect you have uh one individual who now has access to
large amounts of information coming in from visual
from auditory uh from satellite imagery that can be directly uploaded inside their organic brain and they’re seeing and interpreting and chewing and and being able to make actionable decisions based on information coming in potentially from a drone flying 20 miles away or a satellite
overhead in space and so now this person is in effect a command and control person on the move and so right now the
department of defense is exploring operations in a multi-domain operation battle space and that means that um we can expect tobe contested in the air the land the sea and we want
to dominate we want us we want to essentially be able to control now in addition to that we are in a more expeditionary posture which means that we’re going to be fast moving uh units that may be cut off or constrained for periods of time and so you’re going to have a small battle
group moving very fast maybe what we call on the edge meaning
they may have intermittent loss of communication they may not always have control of uh the cyber .. and so
this now individual becomes a command and control system
organic to that expeditionary force and that’s a game changer it’s one of the technologies that’s going to allow us to dominate in a multi-domain battle space and it’s going to it’s one of those technologies that’s going to allow us
to be able to enable an expeditionary fast-moving force
to have to maintain soldier lethality maximize the protection of the unit but really be able to operate on their own and great potential also to impact i think you really hit this
the social dynamics within the military.”
“and the more they knew about it the less were likely they were to be concerned and also attract with their religious
affiliations and um the more religious people were the
more they tended to have ethical uh boundaries and and i think diane talked about our interoperability with our nato allies and so from a military standpoint um if we
in if we adopt an enhancement but our nato allies refuse to allow us to be interoperable with them to to move our troops through their areas then that was something that the department of defense needed to be concerned with right um and the likely conversation and i don’t suggest that we go down this lane today i think it’s a whole conversation
that you might want to pursue in and of itself is how do you
have a society in which some people are operating at a higher level all the time and what does that imbalance in performance do to the dynamic between the two populations and so if you look historically in the past any time there’s been an imbalance in in performance that’s created resentment
and the best place to go for that we realized was media movies literature music poetry and when you look there
oftentimes these cyborg technologies are perceived in a dystopian manner there’s a fear there’s a feeling
that when you integrate man and machine together there’s a loss of soul and compassion and that that leads to inadvertent technological consequences frankenstein the terminator was the way we talked about it and so if we’re going to be interoperable with our nato allies if we’re going to adopt these technologies we have to realize that the society has to be accepting of these technologies it can’t be
something that the department of defense does on its own in a vacuum irrespective of what society is willing to accept
and what the global community at large will perceive of that endeavor, well, that’s profound.”
“this topic of bio enhancements and the implications of cyborg soldiers on the way we fight is so interesting that i’m planning to devote an upcoming episode just to the ethical implications and concerns for.”

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