The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) tends to remain fairly secretive about their activities. In many cases, they defer to that whole “it’s a national security secret” to keep their activities out of the public eyes. Naturally, not all of their efforts can go unnoticed and a recent article by Fusion looked to delve into one of the more interesting projects that they have going on. What project, you might ask? Oh, just testing chips in a soldier’s brain.
No big deal.
Despite how cool this concept might sound, it is important to first realize that DARPA is currently still in the testing phase. At this point, they have yet to put any chips in any actual brains. So far, they have started putting temporary chips in the brains of patients who are undergoing other types of brain surgery though, which has allowed them to begin testing the overall system. Right now, none of that system includes the creation of cyborg troops, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its exciting aspects.
Though not the initial intention, these chips are actually now being considered as the possible way to unlock the future of artificial intelligence. By mapping out the brain, they take a sort of digital imprint of the brain activity, which could ultimately act as a map guiding scientists and programmers to develop a more efficient artificial intelligence. Whether this would equate to a true “learning” computer like you see in many science fiction movies or just end up being another disappointment is another question, but many scientists are hopeful that it could be a real path to a breakthrough.
The original reason that DARPA started looking into this technology was to work on a way that they could implant these chips into the brains of soldiers and then use them down the road to help repair any brain injuries that might be sustained during wartime engagements. Having the chip in there, they could effectively map a soldier’s brain and then imprint that map to use later on. If that soldier had any serious trauma, the computer chip could actually go to work fixing the damage. In effect, this could help save lives on the battlefield and prevent debilitating brain injuries that so many soldiers suffer from. Among those, this chip could one day end the effects of PTSD.
Of course, skeptics wonder if this sort of technology might ultimately be used for something much more serious. If the soldiers have these chips in their brain, could they be used to ultimately create an army of cyborgs? More immediately, can they control the actions and behaviors of these soldiers by using the chip, thus unlocking lifetime servants of DARPA and other government organizations. Though this might play well in a science fiction, it is not likely something that you have to worry about anytime soon.