Earlier this month, a report funded by the Greenwall Foundation examined the legal and ethical implications of using biologically enhanced humans on the battlefield. Given the Pentagon's open acknowledgement that it's working to create super-soldiers, this is quickly becoming a pertinent issue. We wanted to learn more, so we contacted one of the study's authors. He told us that the use of cyber-soldiers could very well be interpreted as a violation of international law. Here's why.
Posted by Christian Corralejo on 01/24 at 11:01 AM
A good example some one mentioned on the io9 blog is a spartan solider from the Halo series (http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/SPARTAN-II_Program) (http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/MJOLNIR_Powered_Assault_Armor) (http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Spartan_Neural_Interface) (http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/SPARTAN-II_augmentation_procedures) .
Universal Soldier Regeneration provides a terrifying twist to the series. In the original Universal Soldier, the Unisols were reanimated servicemembers who are brought back from the dead, using specific bioaugmentations(pituitary and thyroid, along with bone, muscle and joint augmentations) and deep tissue electrical simulation, to reheat their bodies after they’ve been put on ice to keep them from dying.
These augmentations, combined with performance boosting drugs and intense physical training from hell, makes them into veritable hardcase black ops cold warriors. Regeneration ups the game by introducing gene therapy, improving the Unisols on a genetic level. Things escalate when one of the project scientists hijacks a next-generation Unisol and starts selling his services as a freelance gun-for-hire.
In Regeneration, Devereaux is undergoing a literal decommission from being a Unisol, in the form of behavioral modification therapy and intense amounts of detox and drug rehabilitation, to undo the damage done by the original Unisol Project. The therapy doesn’t always take and he always has outbursts of violence and confusion. Day of Reckoning itself goes further with the gene therapy and introduces cloning.
It also addresses the ethical question of what happens when you’ve bred men for war and all they know is conflict. How do you deal with that? In the first movie and Regeneration, they use a memory clearance drug. It’s not perfect, and when they come off of it, they suffer from PTSD on an epic level.
This leads up to the next problem: What happen when the system for control that you establish, to control these supersoldiers, fail; and they go rogue? What happens when one of the original Unisols, establishes himself as a Colonel Kurtz-like figure, and begins amassing other supersoldiers, in order to declare war on their oppressors? The scenario, quite frankly; is utterly nightmarish.
It was extremely fucked up how the liberated Unisols dealt with the constant emptiness they felt after coming off the memory clearance drug. Lots of Alcohol(they drank enough 40s of Jack Daniels that they would of literally killed off a herd of humpback whales; having an augmented metabolism and immune system helps), lots of violent sex and acts of violence and masochism(there’s a part where one Unisol in DoR was having his hand nailed to a table by a prostitute)
Posted by GamerFromJump on 01/28 at 01:24 AM
Once important aspect of this that must be kept in the front of the mind by anyone working on such things is the rights of the soldier himself. A fairly modern concept in history is the idea of the “citizen soldier” - a member of the service who is wholly a citizen and equal in the country of whose service he is a member.
There was a Star Trek: TNG episode that had augmented soldiers that were essentially locked away once the war was over. Needless to say, this didn’t go well.
Posted by CygnusX1 on 01/28 at 05:33 AM
There’s a fine ethical line between providing a soldier with all of the “state of the art” tech. augmentation, weaponry, body armour, and backup air support, and using bio-enhancements to increase peformance, endurance and help get that “extra 20 mins out of him” before his usefulness is over. Trouble is, in this “game” units, (Human individuals), don’t matter any longer?
“Regeneration” is an ultra-violent movie and the most disturbing in the series, where soldiers bodies and minds no longer matter. Where once there was compassion and mercy in battle there is now just the empty gaze of a hyped killer automaton, no longer a man, no longer a Human?
Sad thing is, there are no doubt still plenty of Spartan psycho’s ready and willing to sign up to be superhuman killers. Killers that need to be “put on ice” when not required, because they cannot function in society?