WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
This sounds like science fiction, again, but turning humans into living sensor networks that are monitored and controlled by AI is technologically possible now.
In the past I’ve written about how research organisations like the US military’s bleeding edge research arm DARPA are using new technologies, like genetic engineering, to turn living things, from animals and sea creatures, through to common-a-garden plants into living, conscious robots, and sophisticated living sensor networks that can be used to detect all manner of things, from enemy radio signals through to submarines passing overhead. In fact, it’s arguably one of the more outrageous sci-fi like trends that I’m following right now and as regular readers of my blog know that’s saying something.
Looking further into the future this is also the first step to joining soldier’s brains together to create the world’s first human hive mind networks, and even creating an entirely new form of human organic computing network. Something that’s not so far fetched after researchers recently showed off their latest developments in turning humans into organic computers and connecting human tissues and organs, as well as, in the case of Elon Musk’s Neuralink technology, people’s brains directly to one another, computer networks and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Up until now though I hadn’t seen any evidence of researchers trying to turn humans into living sensors – but that’s just changed and, in this case, turning soldiers and their brains into living sensing systems for the benefit of a “warrior AI” is as intriguing and amazing as it is scary. Almost as scary as the thought of telepathic warfare … yes, that too is a thing. And you thought your kid’s tech was scary and weird. Welcome to the future. #OMG. With the ground laid let’s dive in.
What if a dismounted squad is navigating rigorous terrain amid high-intensity combat, tasked with finding enemy Humvees, yet the enemy targets are dispersed and hidden?
However, what if the squad was able to use AI to find the enemy instead of trying to overcome all of their environmental and line-of-sight challenges?
Thanks to new research from the US Army Research Laboratory that uses biological elements of the human brain and brainwaves as sensors “enemy force location patterns and information from multiple soldiers’ viewpoints will soon all be instantly calculated and fed back to soldiers and decision-makers in a matter of seconds,” say the researchers.
The science behind using soldier’s brains and brainwaves as living sensors is based on being able to use hi tech AI powered sensor networks
that can read the electrochemical energy coming from a soldier’s brain. A signal from the brain, as the researchers explain, can be captured “before the brain can cognitively do something.”
Electrical signals emitted by the human brain resulting from visual responses to objects seen can be instantly harnessed and merged with analytical computer systems to identify moments and locations of great combat relevance. This is accomplished by attaching a conformal piece of equipment to soldier glasses, engineered to pick up and transmit neurological responses.
“The computer can now map it if, when a soldier looks at something, it intrigues them. The human brain can be part of a sensing network,” said Corde Lane, Ph.D., director, Human Research and Engineering, Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Research Laboratory.
Perhaps an entire group of soldiers all see something at once, yet from different angles. That response data can then instantly be aggregated and analysed by an AI which can then, if necessary, automatically dispatch a drone, call for air support, or direct ground fires to a specific target. A collective AI system can gather, pool and analyze input from a squad of soldiers at one time, comparing responses to one another to paint an overall, holistic combat scenario picture.
“With opportunistic sensing, we can identify where those Humvees are. Now I know dynamically where the threat objects are for the mission. This group of individuals has given me that information without them having to radio back. Information is automatically extracted by soldiers doing their normal behavior,” added John Touryan, researcher, Cognitive Neural Sciences, Army Research Lab.
AI Machine Learning factors prominently here, meaning that once the AI has captured information from soldiers it can then aggregate that with other data to extrapolate out patterns and other variables so as to accurately forecast where other Humvees might be based on the gathered information and where, for example, they might all be going and their mission. The AI could then tell soldiers where to go in order to have the greatest tactical impact to defeat the enemy.
Touryan explained it this way, saying that an AI system could, in effect, say “[for some reason] this group of soldiers is very interested in Humvees and vehicles so let me analyse the rest of the environment and find out where those are, so that when they come around the corner they are not going to be surprised that there is a Humvee right in front of them.”
By drawing upon an integrated database of historical factors, “living sensors,” previous combat and known threat objects, the AI-generated computer system could even alert soldiers about threats they may not be seeing. The computer, as Touryan put it, “could find the blind spots.”
“What we hope is that within this framework, AI will understand the human and not just be rigid. We want it to understand how soldiers are reacting to the world,” Lane explained.
All of which then begs the question – at what point will the AI be given direct authority over the soldiers behaviours, and could that one day help move us closer to realising Elon Musk’s vision of an immortal AI dictator? So many questions, so many technologies, so little time to figure it all out. Now, go and enjoy the rest of your day.
Source: National Interest