RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Diggins and Arizmendi write: "It's been fashionable in military circles to talk about cyberspace as a 'fifth domain' for warfare, along with land, space, air and sea. But there's a sixth and arguably more important warfighting domain emerging: the human brain."

How long before we harness the power of mind-controlled weaponized drones - or use BCIs to enhance the power, efficiency, and sheer lethality of our soldiers? (photo: Wired)
How long before we harness the power of mind-controlled weaponized drones - or use BCIs to enhance the power, efficiency, and sheer lethality of our soldiers? (photo: Wired)

Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare

By Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi, Wired

13 December 12


t's been fashionable in military circles to talk about cyberspace as a "fifth domain" for warfare, along with land, space, air and sea. But there's a sixth and arguably more important warfighting domain emerging: the human brain.

This new battlespace is not just about influencing hearts and minds with people seeking information. It's about involuntarily penetrating, shaping, and coercing the mind in the ultimate realization of Clausewitz's definition of war: compelling an adversary to submit to one's will. And the most powerful tool in this war is brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies, which connect the human brain to devices.

Current BCI work ranges from researchers compiling and interfacing neural data such as in the Human Conectome Project to work by scientists hardening the human brain against rubber hose cryptanalysis to technologists connecting the brain to robotic systems. While these groups are streamlining the BCI for either security or humanitarian purposes, the reality is that misapplication of such research and technology has significant implications for the future of warfare.

Where BCIs can provide opportunities for injured or disabled soldiers to remain on active duty post-injury, enable paralyzed individuals to use their brain to type, or allow amputees to feel using bionic limbs, they can also be exploited if hacked. BCIs can be used to manipulate ... or kill.

Recently, security expert Barnaby Jack demonstrated the vulnerability of biotechnological systems by highlighting how easily pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) could be hacked, raising fears about the susceptibility of even life-saving biotechnological implants. This vulnerability could easily be extended to biotechnologies that connect directly to the brain, such as vagus nerve stimulation or deep-brain stimulation.

Outside the body, recent experiments have proven that the brain can control and maneuver quadcopter drones and metal exoskeletons. How long before we harness the power of mind-controlled weaponized drones - or use BCIs to enhance the power, efficiency, and sheer lethality of our soldiers?

Given that military research arms such as the United States' DARPA are investing in understanding complex neural processes and enhanced threat detection through BCI scan for P300 responses, it seems the marriage between neuroscience and military systems will fundamentally alter the future of conflict.

And it is here that military researchers need to harden the systems that enable military application of BCIs. We need to prevent BCIs from being disrupted or manipulated, and safeguard against the ability of the enemy to hack an individual's brain.

The possibilities for damage, destruction, and chaos are very real. This could include manipulating a soldier's BCI during conflict so that s/he were forced to pull the gun trigger on friendlies, install malicious code in his own secure computer system, call in inaccurate coordinates for an air strike, or divulge state secrets to the enemy seemingly voluntarily. Whether an insider has fallen victim to BCI hacking and exploits a system from within, or an external threat is compelled to initiate a physical attack on hard and soft targets, the results would present major complications: in attribution, effectiveness of kinetic operations, and stability of geopolitical relations.

Like every other domain of warfare, the mind as the sixth domain is neither isolated nor removed from other domains; coordinated attacks across all domains will continue to be the norm. It's just that military and defense thinkers now need to account for the subtleties of the human mind ... and our increasing reliance upon the brain-computer interface.

Regardless of how it will look, though, the threat is real and not as far away as we would like - especially now that researchers just discovered a zero-day vulnerability in the brain. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+11 # Erdajean 2012-12-13 10:38
So is this the NEXT wrinkle in criminal defense?
Karl Rove made me do it?
Don't think THEY aren't working on it.
0 # Milarepa 2012-12-13 10:46
You mean we could actually get to President Obama's brain and influence his thinking?
-6 # Nel 2012-12-13 12:45
To get to the President brain first you have to pass the SS guys. Then its Obama, a street guy accustomed to dirty tricks.
+29 # barkingcarpet 2012-12-13 11:29
The human brain is already a piece of work in progress, and under attack from every degree of the sphere through environmental toxins, chemical, electromagnetic , social, educational, economic, etc, etc, etc.

When are WE going to get off our overly entitled consuming asses and put an end to the endless wars, legitimate rapist bankers, Monsanto's, and Fukishima's spewing as we drive on buy indiscriminatel y consuming Nature and leaving lifeless landfills in our wake?

Nature Is gonna kick our butts, regardless, unless WE get involved, and get busy.

Drones R Us, into oblivion, but only if we fail to end the nonsense.

We ARE the power. Quit abdicating it to psychopathic profiteers who care about nothing but money, power, and control. They will leave nothing but a lifeless wasteland.
+18 # reiverpacific 2012-12-13 11:39
Why, O' why does it all have to be military-driven?
Haven't they fucked-up the world enough, including other critter that happen to be in the path of their destructive and paranoid, power-seeking experiments?
Why don't they practice on themselves in sealed concrete bunkers somewhere they can do less harm -and keep the bastards there as a zoo of destructive force.
It's things like this that make me wonder if we don't just deserve to be wiped off the face of the globe as a species.
But there are so many good people and races who are closer to the planet and it's beings and many prophesy that the "Wasicus"/"Payo s" or "others/Invader s/destroyers" will be taken off the earth and the balance restored in the great circle of life.
I sincerely hope that it's not just wishful thinking.
+14 # 4yourinformation 2012-12-13 12:35
The military provides the capitalists with cover for making the taxpayer pay for the R&D so the private sector doesn't have to. These guys really don't believe in the free market, they believe in winning and they know that having the govt on your side will win the battle for them.
-15 # bbaldwin 2012-12-13 12:01
I personally think this article is not appropriate. It is fear mongering - we have enough real fear in our World that is real and plainly seen.
+12 # Kev C 2012-12-13 18:58
So you would rather they play their games on us without us even knowing it? You would rather we stayed in the dark?
You would rather we played ignorant and dead and rolled over for the powers that be to walk on us?
Or would you rather we knew in advance what the bastards were/are plotting so we could/can possibly avert this sinister psychopathic control agenda?
I personally know the world is full of scary stuff and unless we face our worst fears we will live in fear forever.
0 # Nominae 2012-12-19 21:07
Quoting bbaldwin:
I personally think this article is not appropriate. It is fear mongering - we have enough real fear in our World that is real and plainly seen.

Yeah. Reporting the facts is NOT fear mongering.

What you recommend is the survival strategy of the Ostrich.

What I would like to point out is that particular survival strategy *famously* does NOT work, even for the OSTRICH !
+8 # natalierosen 2012-12-13 12:15
Absolutely NOTHING surprises me. The extent to which the human being will go to make his fellow human beings miserable is profound. Just look what the Republican Party is doing to circumvent the fact that they are a minority party and demographically irrelevant. If at first they do not succeed wait a minute for a Rovain device to be implanted to take over not only Washington but planet earth. I hope he and his billionaires have a great time playing with themselves as most of the planet if he has his way will be dead or nearly so!
+11 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-13 12:29
An awful lot of loosely-linked & unbacked speculation here, & uninformed assumptions about the ease of the projected processes. But of all institutions, the Military has the least right to brain interference, & any kickback against that is welcome.
0 # barbaratodish 2012-12-13 12:41
B4 u can hack INTO a brain it 1st must BE there! lmmfao
+4 # happycamper690 2012-12-13 12:45
Take a look at Tuesday's NYTimes Science section. There is an article describing a wide array of parasites that can alter brain fuction to do its bidding. For instance, a rat's brain can be reprogrammed by a chemical released by a parasite to lose their fear of cats. The parasite requires a cat's gut to reproduce. Lots of rats; many fewer cats. The parasite has solved the problem of how to enter the cat.

At some future date, a chemical that will provide mind control allowing humans to be reprogrammed will be available ... at first, I am guessing for recreation, later for terror. Can't wait to see what life in 2150 will be like.
+6 # natalierosen 2012-12-13 13:15
I won't be around thank god!
0 # Nominae 2012-12-19 21:19
Quoting natalierosen:
I won't be around thank god!

Me either, Natalie, and it's not breaking *my* heart either ! :)
+5 # rpauli 2012-12-13 14:04
Damn ! That explains all that global warming denialism. Brainwashing !

Does that also mean that "cutting taxes helps the economy" is also delivered by psycho-weapon?
+4 # Kev C 2012-12-13 19:04
The end of freewill. So what would the point of living be?
I recall a kids story many years ago about aliens who invaded Earth and took over the human race. They implanted a frame structure into the skulls of the children and secured control over their minds to do the aliens bidding. This is no different. Even the aliens are here in my opinion. What else are the military industrial complex if not psychopathic non human aliens? After all no 'real' human would stoop so low as to destroy freewill. Unless they were programmed to do it against their freewill and knowledge.
+1 # Kev C 2012-12-13 19:06
A link to the story I referred to:
+7 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-12-13 15:26
+1 # andyseles 2012-12-14 01:26
Okay, I knew they would finally tire of staring at goats. Maybe I won't get that rfid chip implant after all...
+6 # RMDC 2012-12-14 04:21
The USG has been involved in thought control research and development for at least 100 years. You can go back to the work of Edward Bernays or Walter Lippman in the 1920s to see the origin of techniquees of "engineering thought." Christopher Simpson's book, The Science of Coercion" details programs in the 40s - 60s by the CIA and Pentagon called "psychological warfare operations" against american citizens. Basically it was all about brainwashing and thought control by means of mass media, social science research, and public opinion polling.

Behavioral psychology in the mid-20th century was mostly about behavioral engineering.

Americans are the most brainwashed and thought controlled people in all human history. Thought control has been a goal of capitalism from the start. Bernays said the future of capitalism is human consciousness way back in the 1910s.

The US and its rulers in the pentagon, cia, and corporations are evil to the core. They just cannot leave people alone to live their lives as they wish. They can't any longer hold chattle slaves so they will create pyschological slavery.
+3 # Nel 2012-12-14 09:05
Fully agree with you RMDC. "thought control" is not rocked science, all you need is information control.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.