The Department of Defense’s research arm, known as DARPA, is actually paying researchers and scientists to develop methods for instantly reading the minds of soldier through the use of such as genetic engineering of the brain, through nanotechnology, and using infrared beams. The reason is that they are seeking weapons that can be controlled by thought. Imagine being able to send swarms of drones using your mind, and the capability to beam an image from one brain to another brain. Can you imagine using these thought controlled weapons?
Seeking Thought Controlled Weapons
Recently, DARPA reported that they have hired six research teams to participate in the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. These teams have the goal of creating technology that has a two-way channel for quick communication between machines and the human brain without any surgery required.
“Imagine someone who’s operating a drone or someone who might be analyzing a lot of data,” stated Jacob Robinson, who is an assistant professor of bioengineering from Rice University, and is the leaders for one of these research teams.
“There’s this latency, where if I want to communicate with my machine, I have to send a signal from my brain to move my fingers or move my mouth to make a verbal command, and this limits the speed at which I can interact with either a cyber system or physical system. So the thought is maybe we could improve that speed of interaction.”
That will actually be vital as smart machines and data become more of a threat to overtake and overwhelm humans, and such technology could also have many applications in the civilian world as well as the military, Robinson added.
Advancing Mind Control
While we have seen many breakthroughs in the ability to read and write info to the human brain, such advances have depended on other components like brain implants. One example of this is when medical professionals seek to monitor conditions such as epilepsy.
Brain surgery is simply too risky to for installing these types of interfaces in healthy people. And in addition to this, existing brain monitoring methods that are external – such as electroencephalography (EEG), where electrodes are attached to the scalp – are very inaccurate. For these reasons, DARPA is attempting to discover a noninvasive brain-computer interface (BCI).
Specifically, this agency is seeking systems that are capable of reading and writing to 16 independent locations in a region of the brain that is pea-sized. And the lag of transmitting this data can be no greater 50 milliseconds, and they want all this accomplished no more than four years from now said Robinson, and he fully understands the scale of such a challenge.
“When you try to capture brain activity through the skull, it’s hard to know where the signals are coming from and when and where the signals are being generated,” he pointed out recently. “So the big challenge is, can we push the absolute limits of our resolution, both in space and time?”
Genetically Adjusting the Human Brain
In order to accomplish this feat, Robinson’s team intends to utilize viruses that have been modified to transmit genetic material into human cells — which are referred to as viral vectors — for inserting DNA into specific neurons that would induce them to create two types of proteins.
The first kind of protein will absorb light as a neuron is firing, which will makes it able to detect neural activity. A headset that is external will then send off an infrared light beam that will pass right through the human skull and straight into the brain. Detectors that will be attached to the headset will measure signals that are reflected from the brain tissue will produce an image of the brain. Because of the protein, targeted regions will be darker on the image as it absorbs light whenever the neurons are firing. This generates a scan of brain activity that could be used to determine exactly what a person is hearing, seeing, or attempting to achieve.
The second protein attaches itself to magnetic nanoparticles, so that neurons would be magnetically induced to fire off whenever the headset creates a magnetic field. This would be utilized to energize neurons in order to induce images or sounds inside the mind of a patient. The group intends to use this system to transmit an image from a visual cortex of one human brain to that of another person.
“Being able to decode or encode sensory experiences is something we understand relatively well,” Robinson indicated. “At the bleeding edge of science, I think we are there if we had the technology to do it.”
It will be quite exciting to see what becomes of these thought controlled weapons in the future.