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Future of war: bioweapons, cyber-warfare, mind-control and more

Dick Pelletier
By Dick Pelletier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 6, 2012

In The American Way of War, historian Russell Weigley describes a grinding strategy of destruction employed by the U.S. military over the last 150 years. To end the Civil War, Grant felt he had to destroy lee’s soldiers; in World War I, Pershing relentlessly bombarded and wore down Germany’s proud fighting machine; and the Army Air Corps pulverized major German and Japanese cities to win World War II.

These wars were not won by tactical or strategic brilliance but by the sheer weight of numbers; the awesome destructive power only a fully mobilized and highly industrialized democracy can bring to bear. In these conflicts, U.S. armies suffered and inflicted massive casualties. Our ability to both inflict and endure such casualties more effectively than could our adversaries ultimately resulted in victory.

    However, today we experience conflicts that includes warfare in which dominant military powers are confronted by a wide range of adversaries; from non-state radical ideologies (al Qaeda) to transnational criminal elements (Russian Mafia) to rogue states (N. Korea, Iran); all employing unconventional tactics.

    New technologies including drones and cyber weapons are changing the way we wage war, says former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in this 5-minute video.

    In addition, some enemies are now acquiring bio-weapons. Defense expert Barry Kellman offers this scenario of a horrifying bioweapons attack: "A lone terrorist infects himself with a deadly disease that has been genetically altered for a slow infection process. He sneaks into a crowded city, infecting unsuspecting victims turning each one into carriers who would then infect others."

    This single enemy could infect 10 to 20 people, creating wave after wave of outbreaks, Kellman says. Experts predict the number of cases by the end of the fourth wave would be more than 3 million, with one third of the victims dying; a million deaths caused by a single terrorist act.

    Aware of this danger, the Pentagon has directed scientists at its cutting-edge Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to find solutions. Here are some futuristic ideas being bandied about:

    Cyborg Insects: Deadly viruses delivered by cyborg insects may sound like science fiction, but if DARPA officials have their way, this may one day become reality. Researchers have already created moths and flying beetles with electronics built inside them that allow a handler to direct their actions. These robo-bugs will attack specific targets and could inject a lethal biotech disease into victims.

    Nanodust: Future neuroscience research could one day produce nanoparticles that can seep into the brain evoking confusion, while instilling a desire to become peaceful; thus rendering the enemy harmless. Wars of the future might be decided through manipulation of people's minds, concludes a report in this 9-minute video, which examines the benefits, risks, and ethics of tomorrow's futuristic war weapons.

    The report also suggests that these technologies could violate human rights through interference with thought processes, opening up the threat of indiscriminate killing. As Orwellian as all this might seem though, if it saves people from harm and death, a public more focused on improving health and extending lifespans, than guarding terrorists' or criminals' privacy, may find this idea acceptable.

    Nano Mind-Erasers: Global Village advocate Al Fin sees this concept one day becoming reality. Tiny bursts of nanodust would wipe sections of a person's brain clean without the victim ever noticing, creating an instant Alzheimer's condition. Neutralizing an enemy's memory could be more frightening than death.

    Here's a final thought in our article on the Future of War: As we move forward in the years ahead, health and longevity will be greatly extended, which could place a much higher value on human life.

    Living for hundreds of years could make human life the most valued commodity on Earth; and terrorists and criminals, also benefiting from these technologies, may be less likely to commit violent acts.

    Could these mind-invasive technologies actually spark the beginning of a peaceful 'global society?' Positive futurists believe that it's certainly possible! Comments welcome.

Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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I don’t want to have to run Norton Antivirus on my brain.  :(

Law abiding citizens should not have to worry about their brain being attacked. At least, that’s the theory.

Could ‘Big Brother’ abuse this technology? Of course; that is why it is important that technologies like these do not advance without strict oversight.

Comments welcome.

“Law abiding citizens should not have to worry about their brain being attacked. At least, that’s the theory”

Yes, depends on which laws are abided by: just for random example laws formulated by Vlad Putin and or his newest defense minister might rightly or wrongly be suspect to some in Russia (what matters most is people not voted for or appointed yet unknown—those unknown, unseen. A mole such as Martin Bormann was as important as anyone else in the ‘40s).
However our brains are already hacked into by subliminal advertising- and when I raise the issue with a libertarian he starts spouting Friedman, von Mises, Hayek; plus other heavyweight neurology and Defense experts.

To Intomorrow, you paint a pretty grim picture of our present world.

Fortunately, with tomorrow’s neuroscience advances raising intelligence levels around the world, and life extension efforts increasing the value of human life, the future promises a much better picture of how life will unfold in the decades ahead.

Think positive, and a great future could lie in your path.

Two cheers for the future, Dick; yes, materially life can be improved; as for our substrate- we do not know yet you are correct the positive ought to be accentuated (and since you are over 80 you probably know the Andrew Sisters sang such in their song with Bing Crosby in ‘45; you must have been 13-14 then).

There is something that keeps coming back to mind: the misapprehensions concerning morality; take for instance how Utopian conservatives think they can alter the world around them—which means dislocation—but expect the future to still be linked to the past; expecting morality to remain as it was when the world cannot be altered, morality cannot be altered and remain as it was previously.
This is VR thinking, ostrich-thinking, burying their heads in the sand hoping things will stay as they did in the past. One can’t keep their cake and eat it too.

I think of what Allan Bloom wrote in “The Closing Of the American Mind”: things have improved physically, but the way people think is very bad.

One does want to be optimistic—not gullible. And no one knows what is happening to the biosphere, correct?

.. question preceding all others in this thread is:
why write a piece on this topic if the subject is a negative one to all save those who appreciate DARPA, who think spinoffs from the military are a positive? Now, your piece is a brief one yet to write it in the first place you must be sufficiently concerned to think it worthy of discussion—and btw, isn’t ‘concern’ more or less a euphemism for worry?: ‘concern’ sounds better than worry (at night one is “concerned about balancing the checkbook” sounds preferable to “I stay up night worrying about my budget”).              .

Obviously, you must think bioweaponry is somewhat of a concern/worry, however you do not know to what degree bioweaponry will become a threat if it ever does become an undeniable treat.

...threat, not treat! Whew, that was a close one- must be something from Halloween, Dick.

At any rate, you were right to do the piece.. bioweaponry, mind control, are legitimate causes for concern/worry. And when someone says ‘don’t worry’, well, someone has to worry.

Yep, Andrew Sisters/Crosby had it right: “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative”; they were just a half dozen or so decades ahead of their time.

Positive changes promise to dominate our lives in the near and far future. By 2023, officials at Blue Brain Project predict they will simulate the human brain in a machine, which could allow researchers to experiment with a variety of mind-altering procedures that could guide humanity towards a more productive future; a future with less crime and violence.

Then by adding life extension efforts expected to become reality between now and the 2030s, positive thinking should thrive.

In another area of change for the better, today’s Internet, known as the Internet of Things, is about to transform into the Internet of Everything. This means that trillions of objects will begin to appear on the net, gaining context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities. Add people and information to the mix and you get a network of networks where sextillions of connections create new opportunities for everyone on the planet.

Nearly everything in our homes; doors, windows, walls, furniture, appliances; all of our electronics – even our cars – will communicate on the worldwide web in incredibly intelligent ways.

For example, as we approach the 2020s and driverless cars become more acceptable, by interacting with other cars and being aware of road conditions, we could one day reach zero deaths from auto accidents. In addition, home security and maintenance systems would be accessible via cell phones.

The Internet of Everything promises a healthier, more convenient life for everyone. Just another positive event to be expected in what some of us might define as a most “magical future.”

Comments welcome.

3D printing is being made known, even to the skeptical Midwestern mind. An IT guy said he saw a 3D printing demonstration at a university, but he didn’t know an object larger than four inches or so could be “laminated” (his word).

Midwesterners have a Missouri State attitude: ‘Show Me’;
“don’t tell me what you think, tell me what you know. Tell me not what it is, tell me what it can do—but don’t merely tell me what it can do, tell me what it shall do.”

Militantly practical. However there are severe lapses to say the least: their religion isn’t verifiable, it is more akin to stop-gap practicality, they don’t know what to do so they retain their religious moral code; which is serviceable. But IMO it is all thoroughly negated by their alcoholism, tobacco use, and general mayhem. It is all based on mushy thinking; “we don’t know what to do so we hold onto a very jumbled, but vaguely practical code”, in an ironically nihilistic manner.
Yet everything is laced with irony, isn’t it?

I’m only so concerned with their anomie because the thinking is so mushy that they think God will save the biosphere—extremely spaced-out thinking for such practical people; the granolas they look down on have more sense than allegedly practical burghers. We might call their thinking what it is: gobbledygook.

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