(NationalSecurity.news) The Pentagon’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently hard at work building the next generation of ground forces: so-called cyborg soldiers.
As reported by Newsweek, the agency is attempting to develop an implantable chip that would essentially transform soldiers into cyborgs by wiring their brains direction to computers.
DARPA officials claim the machine-brain interface will produce a neural connection that can “open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
As Newsweek noted further, the agency has been working on this concept for some time:
It is not the first time DARPA researchers have attempted to build a brain-machine interface, however previous versions have had limited functionality. The agency’s new Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) research program aims to increase brain neuron interaction from tens of thousands to millions at a time.
“Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem [from the 1970’s],” said NESD program manager Phillip Alvelda, as reported by the news magazine. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
Earlier, the agency announced that it would eventually build a chip that was no bigger than a cubic centimeter, or about the size of two nickels back-to-back, which would then be implanted into the brains of some troops.
The chip would then act as a sort of neural interface via the conversion of electrochemical signals emitted by neurons in the brain into the 1’s and 0’s of digital communications.
DARPA scientists say possible uses would include major upgrades to a wearer’s hearing and vision by transmitting external digital auditory or visual data directly into the brain. However, before this is possible, DARPA said there would need to be some breakthroughs in neuroscience and synthetic biology, as well as medical device manufacturing and low-power electronics.
Initial applications of DARPA’s device are likely to be within a military context, though such technologies often filter down to find commercial and civilian applications,” Newsweek reported. “The agency is credited for pioneering widespread civil technologies like GPS, speech translation and the Internet.
DARPA, in its announcement, said it anticipated spending some $60 million on development over the next four years.
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