Neuro Spooks

The National Research Council has produced a report for the US Defense Intelligence Agency entiled  “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies” that gives a sneak peek into how neuroscience may eventually yield new tools for spies, and new weapons.  The New Scientist has a piece about the report.  While most of the technology implications appear to be well into the future, the more immediate effects may come from rapid advances in cognitive imaging and new drugs designed to degrade brain performance and extract information.  From the article:

Drug development could be a wild card as our models of brain function improve, especially if nanotechnology leads to drugs that bypass the blood-brain barrier. The promise is more precise delivery of drugs and ways to improve human brainpower. But the report also warns of chilling perils in what it calls the “degradation market” – drugs that impair rather than enhance thought processes. Instead of firing bullets at the enemy, troops could spray them with a drug that would slow their reaction times or dull their thoughts. “The concept of torture could also be altered,” the report says, if “there could be technique developed to extract information from a prisoner that does not have any lasting side effects”.

Update:  Wired Science has also posted an article on this topic here.


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