Cyborg soldiers could be part of the U.S. military soon as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on creating an implantable chip that can connect a human brain to a computer to facilitate data delivery.
In the case of the U.S. military, this could mean faster information acquisition on enemy position and swifter relay of instructions on the field.
DARPA formed the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program to come up with a neural interface, a system that connects biological nervous systems with digital devices, creating "unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth" between the two.
NESD program manager Phillip Alvelda pointed out that the best of today's brain-computer interface systems are similar to two supercomputers trying to communicate with each other through an old 300-baud modem. Currently, approved neural interfaces have just 100 channels, each responsible for compiling signals from thousands of neurons at the same time, resulting in not just imprecision but noise as well.
"Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics," he said.
The projects DARPA carries out may sound outrageous, but the agency is able to do what it does because it aims to revolutionize and not just take technology to the next level. It also doesn't hurt that it is exempt from certain laws that can hamper the movement of most government agencies, plus it generally doesn't have to worry about funding.
Other DARPA Projects
1. Synthetic Blood
DARPA sought to develop synthetic blood to ensure soldiers deployed overseas will have access to blood when needed. This lets the deployed forces avoid not only the trouble of waiting for shipments of blood from the United States but also increases the soldiers' chances of survival while on the battlefield.
2. Cyborg Insects
Unmanned drones are great but they aren't exactly low key. If you use them for reconnaissance missions, your enemies will know what you're up to. Enter cyborg insects. Small and ubiquitous, cyborg insects can hide in plain sight while gaining access to areas that bigger equipment cannot get to.
3. Flying Submarines
Submersible airplanes are great because they can fly over water until they get close enough to their target and then disappear underwater to avoid detection. Applications are mostly military-related but it could be possible for flying submarines to give way to flying and underwater tours for tourists.
Photo: Stuart Pilbrow | Flickr