Cyborg soldiers pose ethical dilemmas for military — Part 2

Military Tech

MYSTERY WIRE — A new report titled “Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD” looks into the possibility of enhancing battlefield capabilities by integrating technology right into soldiers’ bodies. The details in the report are followed by discussion of the ethics that might be involved.

The report acknowledges the Department of Defense is treading on unfamiliar ground, although lessons learned in the deployment of unmanned drone aircraft certainly show their influence.

Is the United States ready for this kind of technology? Is the world?

From Frankenstein to the Terminator, the message is often that technology’s integration with the human body robs the human spirit of its compassion and leads to violence and grave, unintended consequences.

U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command study

And although there’s an enormous difference between a mob with pitchforks and torches, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland left in SkyNet’s wake, it is encouraging that the military is at least aware of beliefs and fears often rooted in pop culture.

The narrative labels these fears — and religious belief systems — as “distorted cultural narratives.” And the report quickly turns to the need for military strategy to overcome such opposition.

Although not intrinsically a DOD mission, defense leadership should understand that if they intend to field these technologies, public and social perceptions will need to be understood and overcome.

But maybe you are a patriot … a wounded warrior … someone who desperately wants into this. Should the military recruit you? Or does military service of the future come with some new fine print? There are all kinds of questions regarding the selection of cyborg soldiers.

And what happens at the end of the mission?

A great deal of the report dwells on the “reversability” of invasive cyborg tech. Even as the ability to implant tech within the human body, the need to extract it later is problematic. The military might see value in developing advanced eyesight for a cyborg soldier, but who want that soldier working in a public setting when his service has ended? (The answer might be a private corporation who would benefit greatly, or it might be that no one wants their neighbor to be able to see infrared images of what’s going on in private.)

The court of world opinion weighs heavily on the report, as well. Any move to actually create a cyborg soldier would likely unleash condemnation from other nations. Modifying the human body might not be as dicey as genetically engineering the ideal soldier, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

With all the perceived land mines in the development path, military leaders might just continue down the path of robot technology with no human integration. Time will tell.

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