The U.S. military has a vision for the future, and it involves cyborg soldiers that have cybernetically enhanced sight, hearing, strength and the power to remotely control weapons and be controlled. It sounds a little Terminator-y to us, and experts don't think humanity is ready for the ethical dilemmas it proposes. Interested in other futuristic technology? Check out this emotionally intelligent robot that was sent to the Space Station.
Not too long ago, cyborgs (short for cybernetic organism) were the stuff of science fiction. Now, there are many living, breathing cyborgs. Don't start imagining Westworld-like robots: we're talking about humans who have biomechatronic body parts, like Neil Harbisson, who sees colors, receives calls, and picks up WiFi with the antennae implanted in his skull. Or amputees with mind-controlled robotic limbs.
While the idea of human-machine hybrids might worry you, the Pentagon is embracing the development of cyborg technology - so much that it wants to create an army of super cyborg soldiers that will have cybernetically enhanced bodies.
A new report from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center outlines what cybernetics might look like in 2050. And we gotta say, the report sounds like the script of a dystopian film where injured soldiers become cyborgs with superhuman powers and minds controlled by the government. We can take a potshot and guess that the movie doesn't end well for the humans.
- enhanced eyes that allow soldiers to see across the battlefield in different wavelengths and identify targets in "dense urban environments"
- cybernetic muscles that are stronger, faster, and can be remotely controlled by someone else
- super-duper hearing that can translate foreign languages and hear over long distances
- and last but not least, neural implants that allow the soldiers to control remote machines, have machines control them, and control each other
One of the worrying things about the future cyborg soldiers is that the modifications mentioned can only be "installed" when a human soldier has been injured. If a soldier loses a limb, it will be replaced with a super limb. Same goes for new eyes and super hearing. But when a human merges with technology, should the laws of war consider it a machine or a human, as VICE asked? Should they be allowed to keep the artificial limb that helped them walk again after leaving the army?
There are so many ethical and moral questions that arise with when considering the relationship between humans and technology. We don't have the answers to these questions, and we probably won't until cyborg soldiers become a reality. Although the idea seems far-fetched, with the U.S. military backing it, there's a fairly high chance that in 30 years we may be rubbing shoulders with cyborg soldiers.