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News | April 2, 2021

The Military Is Funding Ethicists to Keep Its Brain Enhancement Experiments in Check

By Sarah Scoles

The military has long been interested in what medical ethicist and Minerva-funded researcher Jonathan Moreno calls “the whole supersoldier business” — using technology to produce bionically or pharmaceutically superior warfighters. Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is interested too. Specifically, in one question that keeps gnawing at him: How much can a soldier’s brain bear?

“You can know that with a backpack — 60, 70 pounds — there is a limit,” he tells Future Human. “But what are the kinds of limits to the neurotechnologies that a soldier can carry around?”

Minerva-funded researchers, Jonathan Moreno, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Nick Evans, professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, with Lowell forensic psychologist Neil Shortland and Michael Gross of the University of Haifa quickly turned into action. In January, the group, under Evans’ leadership, received funding from Minerva to investigate the ethics of soldiers’ participation in experiments with “AI-driven performance enhancements,” like brain-computer interfaces that augment a person’s natural abilities.

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Associated Minerva-funded project: The Ethics of Warfighter Participation in the Development and Testing of AI-Driven Performance Enhancements