An American soldier surveys the battle theatre around him, every sense straining for the slightest sign of his elusive enemy, he is tense and alert as he stands motionless. Suddenly he sees a slight movement behind a lush creeper on his left, behind him he hears a twig crack, his taut senses tell him he has wandered into an ambush.
Telepathy for troops
In the past he might have sent an urgent radio message or simply screamed a warning but now he doesn’t need to, already his thoughts are being received by his comrades via telepathy and soon his colleagues will be at his side.
It might sound like science fiction but according to the British Sunday Times the Pentagon is already working on establishing telepathic communication between its troops. The acceptance of Telepathy, or the ability to transfer thoughts from one person to another is usually thought of as an eccentric notion but that could be about to change forever. According to the paper the US army is trying to create a force of soldiers who can communicate silently with each other simply by reading each other’s minds, but they will need a little help from science first.
New brain reading techniques which have helped quadriplegics communicate via computer screens are being adapted for military use. The Pentagon has given neuroscientists a $6m to adapt the technology for military use and it may be ready for active service as soon as 2017.
The present system developed by researchers at the University of California, Irvine requires volunteers to wear a cap studded with electrodes, they are then asked to think of key-words chosen by the scientist who match the word to the chemical responses produced by the volunteer’s the brain. These thoughts are then quickly converted into computer code. The key-words are then shown as symbols which flash up on to a computer screen. In time these will be developed to create a dictionary of phrases which can be transmitted to comrades.
So far these helmets can transmit 45% of commands so they would have to be radically improved before they could be used effectively, one of their first uses would be in the helmets of fighter pilots to speed up their response time to incoming missiles. Other suggested uses have been as a means of interrogating terror suspects. The Pentagon has even suggested such technology may in time be used as a way of ‘making the enemy obey our commands’. Not surprisingly this has led to concern amongst those with an interest in bioethics as Professor Paul Root Wolpe put it…
“If the right to privacy means anything, it means the right to the contents of my thoughts”.
Yet, this view does not seem to be held by most US solders, in a survey for the Stars and Stripes (America’s military newspaper) the majority of soldiers said if it increased their chances of survival on the battle field they would be ready to use this type of technology. What do I think about the new technology? I am keeping my thoughts firmly under my hat!
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