Efforts involving brain-computer interfaces pose myriad risks to would-be supersoldiers

Illustration of a cyborg from the collarbones up, facing the right side of the image, in a dark space. Its metal face has been slightly detached from the rest of its head to reveal the computer chips and wires inside.
Illustration of a cyborg from the collarbones up, facing the right side of the image, in a dark space. Its metal face has been slightly detached from the rest of its head to reveal the computer chips and wires inside.
Image: Devrimb/E+/Getty Images

The military has long been interested in what medical ethicist Jonathan Moreno calls “the whole supersoldier business” — using technology to produce bionically or pharmaceutically superior warfighters. Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is interested too. Specifically, in one question that keeps gnawing at him: How much can a soldier’s brain bear?

“You can know that with a backpack — 60, 70 pounds — there is a limit,” he tells Future Human. “But what are the kinds of limits to the neurotechnologies that a soldier can carry around?”

Moreno’s discussions on this topic with his former postdoc, Nick…


Detecting bioengineering is a fraught task for any organism

Virus illustration.
Virus illustration.
Photo: vchal/Getty Images

Almost as soon as the coronavirus appeared in the news, so too did speculation that it was purposefully engineered, the result of experimentation at one of several Wuhan laboratories. The idea that the virus, whether natural or engineered, came from a scientific facility was pushed by some politicians. The White House reportedly pressured spy agencies to look into lab links.

Most scientists agree, based on the virus’s genetics, that it probably hopped from animals to humans. On April 30, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declared, on behalf of the 17 different organizations that make up the…


Bret Kugelmass believes nuclear energy can regain popularity if we can make it profitable

Photo: picture alliance/Getty Images

“We have to convince the rest of the world,” Bret Kugelmass tells an audience of engineers at the University of Michigan, “that nuclear isn’t as bad as they once thought.”

Speaking in slow, carefully enunciated sentences, he paces the stage, his hair slicked back in a swoop. We not only have to stop climate change but reverse it, he argues — and the only way to do so is by doubling down on nuclear energy. For that to work, he continues, the economics of the industry have to change, along with people’s minds. Accomplishing both is his raison d’être.

These…

Sarah Scoles

Freelance science writer; short-fiction lover; trail runner; dog embracer. Views here are my own.

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