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Future wars may be fought by synapses

Neuroscientists consider defense applications of recent insights into the brain

By
12:00pm, November 11, 2011

Instead of the indiscriminate destruction of the atom bomb or napalm, the signature weapon of future wars may be precise, unprecedented control over the human brain. As global conflicts become murkier, technologies based on infiltrating brains may soon enter countries’ arsenals, neuroethicists claim in a paper published online October 31 in Synesis. Such “neuroweapons” have the capacity to profoundly change the way war is fought.

Advances in understanding the brain’s inner workings could lead to a pill that makes prisoners talk, deadly toxins that can shut down brain function in minutes, or supersoldiers who rely on brain chips to quickly lock in on an enemy’s location.

The breadth of brain-based technologies is wide, and includes the traditional psychological tactics used in earlier wars. But the capacity of the emerging technologies is vastly wider — and may make it possible to coerce enemy minds with exquisite precisi

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