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Cognitive Enhancement (For Us) Vs. Degradation (For The Enemy)

The USAF has solicited ways and means of enhancing the abilities of our own troops by a variety of means. Not content with merely advantaging our own troops, they also seek to disadvantage the enemy.

Goal is to develop and exploit advances in biotechnology and associated nanotechnologies to enhance performance and situational awareness of the force.

Application and integration of transcriptomics, proteomics and metabonomics, and advanced bioinformatics to identify performance enhancement measures and provide optimal state for mission training conditions and deployed mission performance

Synthetic biology and other aspects of cellular dynamics for systems engineering that capitalize on emerging developments in cognitive, biological, informational and nano sciences.

Development of effective, reliable, and affordable alertness management, performance enhancing and emotional state modulation technologies. Includes non-medical neuroscience and biochemical pathway techniques.

Fans of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune recall sapho juice, favorite of Mentat Assassins like Thufir Hawatt, for cognitive enhancement.

"I've always prided myself on seeing things the way they truly are," Thufir Hawat said. "That's the curse of being a Mentat. You can't stop analyzing your data."

The leathered old face appeared composed in the predawn dimness as he spoke. His sapho-stained lips were drawn into a straight line with radial creases spreading upward.

As I mentioned, the USAF-sponsored research request also seeks to find technologies that can be used to cloud the minds of our enemies, reducing their operational effectiveness.

Conversely, the chemical pathway area could include methods to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive capabilities.

Fans of Futurama recall the stupid ray, which seems to be a pretty good description of what the USAF is looking for.


(Stupid ray in action from Futurama)

Philip K. Dick was also fascinated by the idea of degrading enemy performance with targeted weapons. Consider the Garbage-Can Banger from his cold-war classic The Zap Gun:

"It's a missile that wide-cracks in the atmosphere... above the popcen - the population center - which it's aimed at. We place the Judas Iscariot IV above New Moscow, set to wide-crack at half a mile, and it rains down minned - miniaturized - h'd, that means homeostatic -"

"...They're about the size of gum wrappers. They drift throughout the city...

Each pellet, fully cammed, begins to emit a sound... a horrid sneering sound. Buzzing... The point is, it keeps you awake... I mean wide-awake. Once the noise of a Garbage-can Banger gets to you, for example... you never sleep again... You can't perform your job. You're no good to anyone, yourself included."

See also this description (with quote and citation, of course) of the Civic Notification Distorter, which accomplishes the same goal, but targets the enemy's information systems.

From Advances in Bioscience for Airmen Performance (.doc) via News.com.au. Thanks to Moira for the tip on this item.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/16/2010)

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