The Rise and Decline of Military Human Enhancement

In the past decade, the U.S. military’s interest in human enhancement technologies has waxed and waned. An initial surge of interest, fueled by a desire to create the “Future Force Warrior” has given way, over time, to the more mundane challenges of meeting the needs of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. We would be fooling ourselves, however, if we believed that the U.S. military had abandoned efforts to upgrade the soldier’s body and mind to match the pace of modern warfare. We are in, at best, a lull in military investments in human enhancement research. That is why now is good time to start asking hard questions about how—and indeed if—we should proceed along this course.

In 2002, Dr Joseph Bielitzki, chair of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, announced a grand program to improve soldiers, with the slogan “Be all that you can be, and a lot more.” His targets: sleep, fatigue, pain, and blood loss. Other projects studied psychological stress, memory, and learning. The next year, the Army launched the multibillion dollar Future Combat System to transform the military into a fast and flexible force of networked sensors, combat vehicles, and wired soldiers. The words on everybody’s lips were “human enhancement,” the use of science and technology to upgrade the human body and mind. Advances in the life sciences would make soldiers more than human, while computers, digital sensors, and smart communication systems would replace the rigid military hierarchy. According to military futurists, the then-new War on Terror required a new type of soldier, independent, fast and more lethal than ever before.

Read the rest at Science Progress

I got published on more official blogs a few weeks ago, but in my haste forgot to add a link to it on We Alone. So here it is.

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