When it comes to the soldiers of the future, they usually talk about the suits protection, armor, smart fabrics, exoskeletons, artificial muscles, sensors, communication systems helmets, augmented reality, rucksacks, weapons, and other gear.
But in addition to the work of the technical plan, and conducted numerous studies on the biological and mental improvement of the soldiers of the future. These studies do not receive wide publicity, as it automatically raises the question about the ethics of artificial change of body and soldiers on the legal framework for such decisions. Also for the General public these questions seem a distant fantasy, but the theme is becoming increasingly important and begins to be discussed in the media.
The work is carried out in 4 basic directions: improvement of physical, cognitive, psychological and genetic.
Physically apparent field of activity is to increase muscle mass, increase endurance, resistance to bleeding and increase in pain threshold.
But there is a rather extravagant projects DARPA to change the digestive system soldiers to the bacteria inside their body to process glucose and soldiers fed to pasture — grass, in the truest sense of the word.
Also DARPA is working on cyborgization soldiers when they lost a limb or part of it, but may again become capable, as a high-tech prosthetic can be controlled by signals from the brain. Such technologies will allow to return to the ranks of experienced soldiers with military past.
To improve brain function and increase the speed of decision making, the use of nootropics, pharmaceutical drugs that are designed to affect the cerebral circulation, thought processes and help in dealing with stress. Drugs like modafinil can be used to ensure that the soldiers long could you go without sleep and in a state of alert.
Work on the psyche of the soldier of the future is more controversial. On the one hand, it is proposed artificially (pharmacologically, via implants in the brain, etc.) positively influence the adoption of a soldiers moral decisions on the battlefield. On the other — developed drugs, such as propranolol, which should help the soldier to cope with stress, suppress negative emotions and to get rid of painful memories.
That is, some drugs in theory will prevent the Commission of war crimes, and on the other hand, to suppress a feeling of pity or guilt if they occur, or originally reduce the bar and provoke the violent behavior of the soldiers.
In mid-January, the marine Corps, the United States together with the American analytical center Atlantic Council has summed up the contest of science fiction among Marines. Considered the scenario of a possible military-technological future 2030-2045 years. In one embodiment, the near future China cultivates genetically modified soldiers for their special units. Undersized, fast and muscular genetically modified soldiers turn in this scenario, the perfect killing machine, as they are trained for war from birth, and physical abilities initially.
Fiction? So far, Yes. But not for DARPA. Muscles, speed, ability to lift a lot of weight, preservation of combat capability with abundant loss of blood, the ability to climb on walls, frost and heat resistance, the ability to regenerate — that’s the perfect genetically modified soldiers. Even have the idea to use when creating a soldier genes of animals hibernating at low temperatures.
Dilemma is the relationship to more advanced soldiers. If the enemy would know that the soldiers — genetically modified, don’t feel pain, can survive with a serious wound, the attitude towards them on the battlefield, in captivity or just among the aggressive population in the conflict zone will be ultrazhestokaya.
From a legal point of view, if soldiers voluntarily agree to an artificial improvement of their organisms, to make choices, to have the right to withdraw or they decide it’s armed forces? Failure automatically means dismissal from the armed forces or disobeying an order? Is it possible to “roll back” certain changes in the body or they stay for life? Whether to provide insurance and under what conditions, if, after the improvement, the soldiers will start the side effects and consequences in terms of the psyche and health?
What private companies or public bodies can deliver drugs to improve? Who will certify?
Can the soldier himself to modify privately (for example, the use of steroids and amphetamines soldiers now becomes an actual problem)? What to do with advanced soldiers after their dismissal from the armed forces? Is it possible to put them into the world to ordinary people?
Under which international laws will be artificially created in the interests of the armed forces of creatures (such as chimeras with genes of animals and humans)? Whether they distributed the protocols of the Geneva Convention?
Does the public know about the programs on improving soldier or should it remain a military secret? How to adjust a program for genetic modification, “engineering man”, if there is always the fear that a potential enemy (e.g., China) is working on similar programs without any ethical constraints and creating super soldiers?
A lot of questions. It all seems a distant future, but it’s better to discuss rules and procedures prior to its occurrence. For someone advanced the soldier is a superhero, and for some people, this is Frankenstein’s monster.