Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Military Must Prep Now for ‘Mutant’ Future, Researchers Warn (wired.com)
54 points by cyphersanctus 1810 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments



The only mortal threat to the US military is a cut in their trillion dollar budget. This super-soldier horseshit belongs in comics.


It's surprising that very few people even question how the military got from a $200 billion budget to almost a trillion in a little over a decade. And most in Congress seem to be keen to automatically increase their budget every year, and not even investigate if some of the money is being wasted.

Bill Binney, the NSA whistleblower, said that he could build a project for less than $10 million, but the NSA bosses rejected it, because they wanted to buy a similar project for $4 billion instead.

And this is just one example exposed by one whistleblower (not through official means). Imagine how many other such examples must exist, and how many projects are being overpaid by 10x-100x simply because it's taxpayers' money and nobody bothers to check how these guys are spending it.


This is definitely on the paranoid side of things, but... I suspect a line item for $4 billion dollars on a $10 million project doesn't mean $3.99 billion is being wasted on corruption and inefficiency. I'd guess it's more likely that at least half of that is going to secret projects that they (definitely a mysterious anonymous THEY) want to keep off the books.


No, they already have a black budget for that. Or the CIA drug companies to funnel money through, for that matter.

The idea that we overspend on Hammers and Toilet seats is poorly thought out and repeatedly debunked. There is no need to jump through such silly hoops to pay for projects that are super-duper secret.


Its a National Security risk to expose what the National Security Agency does.

Its also a National/Global Security risk to have as much information as the National Security Agency has.

That's just ONE agency, let alone private entities collecting similar troves of information.

This world is FUBAR. Happy new years.


Or because the CEO of a defense contractor plays golf with a few congressmen.


Dexedrine is sooo last century! Can't wait to hear about Borne Legacy [1] like things like using viruses to fix/improve one's genes. Though considering the rightful medical uses of such technologies, having them and keeping them secret considering military applications would kind of count as... genocide!

The worst thing of this bio-enhancement arms race will probably be that dozens of technologies with medical applications that could save millions of lives will end up being kept secret due to their military applications. This could be the true main cost of such an arms race!

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bourne_Legacy_(film)#Plot


I stopped reading when they exaggerated the effects of the amphetamines given to the pilots. It's unfortunate that accidents happen during war, and actually that war happens at all.

But if I were a pilot having to fly over 10 hours, you bet I'd take amphetamines too. Unless they can fit an espresso machine in the cockpit.


Visions of planes with sponsored by starbucks on the back made me chuckle. But I'm all for sending them too the front line.

Though with planes now, easier to replace have a remote pilot and with that can easily change and negate that entire issue. Or combination of the two with sleep detection alerting a remote pilot to take over with a remote control pilot ability. Certainly one when a fighter pilot ejects in training and can moral feel safe that a remote pilot can fly the plane away from the populus impacting landings.


Where's the exaggeration? All I see is a direct quote from the pilot (who may or may not be exaggerating how he felt), and the FDA warning. Seems like perfectly good reporting to me.


> The Food and Drug Administration warns that Dexedrine can cause “new or worse aggressive behavior or hostility.” (.pdf) But the Air Force still blamed the pilots.

It's not an FDA warning, it's the FDA being quoted out of context, then implying that it wasn't the pilot's fault because he was on said drug.

Think for a second about how many other pilots were probably also prescribed modafinil.

Truly, it is the pilot's fault. I think it was a freak accident, though. However, not an accident that was probably directly caused by modafinil.


There is a drug called modafinil, is not an amphetamine in the strict sense of the word but it can keep you awake for many hours, is used to treat narcolepsy and its already being used in the military.


> not an amphetamine in the strict sense of the word

It's not an amphetamine in any sense of the word. Scientists were hesitant to even call it a "stimulant" at first.

It also does not have aggression inducing effects, or a lot of the other negative side effects of amphetamines.


...and a pretty darn good study-for-exams enhancer, some say :)


Also known as Provigil. It has some serious side-effects https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modafinil#Side_effects and requires a prescription in the US (Schedule IV controlled substance). However adrafinil is currently unregulated in the US, and your liver will metabolize it into modafinil with a half-life of about 1 hour.


4500 mg single dose don't kill a human (recommended dose is 200mg); strong side-effects are an exception and not the norm.


I know side effects are the exception but they exist, even at normal doses. From the PDF linked from wikipedia: "Common side effects that can happen in anyone who takes modafinil tablets include: •back pain •headache •nausea •feeling nervous •stuffy nose •diarrhea •feeling anxious •dizziness •upset stomach •trouble sleeping"


Gene therapy has limited use, but some success stories already https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#2007 and is advancing slowly but surely without government funding :)


...and it's slow to develop or even dream to sometime gain approval for using this for enhancing because of two big side-effects: 1. virus induced immune responses gone awry, and 2. cancer - any-time you copy/paste things around the genome you risk knocking off a tumor suppressor gene or turn up the expression of an oncogene (this is basically a show-stopper for Bourne-like largescale genome editing, and if you read about the first gene therapy trials you'll find out about leukemia in patients - even a 1% risk of inducing cancer would be too much, and if you try and do things like gene therapy to slow aging that percent will go up...)

Anyway, the point was that a breakthrough eliminating either (1) or (2), that could act like an accelerator or catalyst to the whole field of research, could happen in a military research program and stay "under lock" for decades instead of all benefiting from it as a result of such a worldwide bioenhancements cold-war...


They've been using metamphetamine and dexedrine since at least the 1940's. Over 200 million pills were given to soldiers during WWII.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371512/Nazis-fed-sp...

http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/methamphetamine-his...


Wow, those are some... some sources there. A tabloid and one of Scientology's recruiting tentacles.


I don't know about these particular sources, but the fact is widely recognized.

Here's 1944 report from RAF officer that said "Methedrine won the Battle of Britain": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphetamine#cite_note-64

Another source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphetamine#cite_note-63) says that "British troops used 72 million amphetamine tablets in the second world war".

I've also read about drugs being being used by tank teams and pilots in German army during WW2. Tank teams got chocolate with drugs, it was supplied together with regular food for everybody.


Dexedrine is used pretty widely by the US military. If you've ever heard of "go or no-go pills" then you've heard of uppers being used by the Air Force.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dextroamphetamine


I wasn't specifically arguing the facts, but having the facts right is no excuse for having terrible sources.

In fact, dexedrine is not methamphetamine. It's related, but it's a different drug.


The article's main point (emphasis mine):

  > “With military enhancements and other technologies, the 
  > genie’s already out of the bottle: the benefits are too 
  > irresistible, and the military-industrial complex still 
  > has too much momentum,” Lin says in an e-mail. *“The best 
  > we can do now is to help develop policies in advance to 
  > prepare for these new technologies*, not post hoc or after 
  > the fact (as we’re seeing with drones and cyberweapons).”
To get a sense of the kind of moral and ethical issues raised by new combat technologies and techniques, I recommend watching the documentary "The Fog of War"[1].

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgA98V1Ubk8


>>Tweaked troopers could run afoul of international law, potentially sparking a diplomatic crisis every time the U.S. deploys troops overseas. << Err.. Because US troop deployments are usually incident free?


asside from the ethical concerns, we're not actually as near to achieving this as the article seems to suggest, at least from my undergrad studies in chem/bio (not an expert, I'd like to hear what a researcher in this field has to say). The problem with gene inhancement is the off switch, we can inject a virus and overwrite some DNA that tells muscles to grow more, but containing it or making it stop is the problem, also the massive array of side-effects and unforeseen outcomes of altering specific DNA sequences is still a concrete problem.


This sounds like a plea for DARPA blue sky funding more than a near-term warning - and even the specific example (Blue-on-blue air attack) is common enough most of us know the terms and can think of examples.

Sorry - we can certainly inject a few poor souls with various compounds but there is a world of difference between a coked-up weight lifter with weaponry and an effective soldier who can choose targets and not commit atrocities during withdrawal.

Want to make super soldiers - train them constantly and expensively, have clear objectives and morally acceptable enemies (this is a big one IMO) and a support network of medical and friendships to help cushion the horrors. Its called special forces - and its expensive.


I guess the future really will be just like Star Trek.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunted_(Star_Trek:_The_Next...


Reminded me of that episode as well, one of my favorite and so very apt with regards too this subject. One hand we want enhanced humans and on another we want machines but control of them. Bit like Surrogates http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986263/ would be the balance.


My first thought was actually X-Men, which very happily conflated the police with the military.


We just need those plastic guns that deliver the drug which takes away mutant powers.


Not a great choice of title given to apes and monkeys we look like mutants.

But the article is about artificial enhancments and perhaps the bongionic(Bong+Bionic) man may have been a better choice, even if it is a made up word (all words start somewhere). I say bongionic as it is about `enhancment drugs` (all drugs enhance, some enhance drowiness or lower states of mind, just some positive definition used for sheep fashion) and borg like augmentation and the ethics and moral aspects.

Given we have some standards even in war like chemical weapons are bad and torture of prisoners being bad. Also the aspect of a soldier surrendering in a posion cloud would kind of break both those standards. In general we have certain weapons that we agree should not be used on each other. Sadly thought that does not stop them being done in secret or in other forms and `tested` on our own people, as highlighted about the testing of LSD in the article.

That all said, dispite the morals, this type of finance of research projects does have a positive outcome for the populus. It's just at what price we think is right.

But researchers are great at telling you that they want the next set of research funding targeted at, subliminal meme selling at its best even. I do wonder if you realy want to win a war, just send them lots of researchers to help them and after a few years they wont be able to afford a war, win win chuckle.

But the old saying about how war advances technology, it is also the possibilities of war that help keep some extra momentum. They also say it was war technology that put a man on the moon; Though they never mention the technology that got them back.

Bottom line, they may not create a superhuman they want, but they certianly will create some cures for other now and happening issues in health as a sideline.

I'm also reminded of a Star Trek TNG episode http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Hunted_(episode)

The question from that is can you restore the soldier to normal and with that we have a track record of being very slow to spot and treat the signs of even mental negative changes of ex soldier (though getting better every day). Not sure how you can improve some aspects behind having a heads up display and enhanced vision turning all hostiles into mario or the like to obviscate the emotional impacts later on. Does raise many question, but these are in many ways issues we have today still and with that we will just end up building nanobot armies in the end, too what end I'm not sure anybody knows or wants to find out. But they want to do it, that war technology research and costs, both fiscaly and moraly have a very undefined standard which we can only guess upon.


War advances technology is like saying business needs advances technology.

Both of those statement are true. So what?

Bottom line, they may not create a superhuman they want, but they certianly will create some cures for other now and happening issues in health as a sideline.

Technological development tend to have side effects. It's completely normal. Bitcoin have a side effect on the development of decentralized DNS system, which we won't adopt until there's significant ongoing censorship.


Eh. I've been using magnets to mitigate PTSD and other persistent pains. LSD and shrooms have been instrumental in the development of many of my psionic abilities.

It wasn't until I tripped methylone that I realized that I probably shouldn't share my gifts with too many people.

But now they're labeling "HPDD": persistent hallucinogenic experience surely must be a bad thing. This country is buggered. Period.


wut


I can perform various minor psionic tasks. Most shocking of them is the ability to imitate speech; sometimes it is outside of my control because it is of an empathic nature.


Have you considered testing these abilities in a controlled environment?


Yes.

At the same time, I'm only recently discovered some of them. For instance, the speech imitation ability can be spontaneously triggered. Sometimes I find myself running from a social situation because once I think about the ability, I become hyperaware of my opportunity to do it.

Bear in mind that I am not loony. I realize I am saying "WAT"-able stuff here. Some of the things I am currently able to do, I simply do not want others to know. It's frightening, and I'm not quite sure what the proper channels are for some of these things. It's almost comic book-esque; and it's wacky, even when I reflect in my own mind, that I am able to do some of these things. Developing the words to express it to others is challenging. What's more, for some of these things, I'm not even sure what to call it, so that I might do my own research.

Considering the threat level of all of this as well (see OP), I obviously don't want to run off tattling to my local state representative. (I was living in Texas, so that probably would've been Rick Perry or something. Most of the people of the South U.S. would probably pull a gun on me if I showed them some of these abilities, talents, whatever you want to call them.)

All of that aside: Imagine trying to live a normal life with this kind of thing going on. I'm nearly at wits end just trying to fit in on a daily basis. It's not all "cool! get prize money!" These are difficult emotional problems as well that I have lived with since childhood.

Might I ask you, if you were in such a position, how would you prioritize your life? (Kids who grow up upper class and probably with parents who taught them lots of science likely will shout "Cool! let's test!" But low income kids who have been beaten and ridiculed on account of such varied dispositions likely would want to conceal themselves. Is this not obvious? And is this not a trope of comic books and TV drama? Oh how quickly we forget the X-men.)


I'd recommend hitting the JREF forums.[0] For best results, approach them with a single thing you can do that others cannot, rather than a list of things. Minor is actually better, as long as it's something with a causal impact that shouldn't be possible in conventional neurology. They'll help you whittle your ability down to a falsifiable claim, and then design a repeatable, properly-blinded protocol to definitively test whether the phenomenon is real, or has a mundane explanation.

As long as you approach it in good faith, with an earnest desire to discover the truth and the willingness to be proven wrong if the facts go that way, I think you will find they are generally intelligent, respectful people; they do this stuff all the time. Remember that skeptics want to see paranormal phenomena validated more than anyone does; the proper skeptical response to an unlikely claim is, "Well, my impulse is to doubt that, since it goes against every experience I've had so far. But it would be really cool if true-- Show me!"

I'd only also ask, just for me, that you make an agreement with yourself that if the experiment returns a mundane result, you won't discard it but will seek medical help. It may indicate a life-threatening condition.

[0] http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=7


Hrmm. I thought you were kidding. So I ask: what do you mean by "speech imitation?" I can do that too, but it involves my mouth and vocal cords.


I can highly accurately imitate a person in real-time as they speak.

It's "empathic"; as I understand it, it really is just reading body movements and reading the person. However, I can also maintain focus on a multitude of sound stimuli such that when doing this, I can specifically focus on the person. If I focus, my mind wanders or becomes more autonomous. It's like parallel processing. As I said, I don't really even have the language for this particular ability. It becomes "mind reading" once I realize that I am maintaining the conversation while tracking their words spoken and future words. It's like a thief leaving _too much_ evidence at the scene of the crime; in this case, it is emotional and non-verbal evidence. Parroting the person, then, becomes something that I do incidentally on top of being able to hypermentalize about that person, or really any number of other things.


I'm not saying I have paranormal abilities. I'm saying I have empathic abilities, and these can be explained by science. Speech Imitation is a matter of one's frontal lobe processing too much information, and that information becomes immediately actionable (in my case).

This is a matter of neuroscience, not the paranormal; a matter of hypercognition. At the same time, I've been using magnets and nootropics to cognitively enhance and bootstrap various physiological deficiencies I have. I am saying that, for instance, anyone can perform speech imitation. Hu-mans are already highly predictable. I'm not claiming mind-reading or any of this. I am claiming: http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_will_our_kids_be_a_di...


Paranormal is a lazy word for me to use, since a scientific worldview doesn't have any unexplainable phenomena, only unexplained phenomena. Leave that word and its implications aside, and take this away: I feel comfortable saying (and you seem to agree) that what you're describing is far enough outside the practice of mainstream neuroscience that the same recommendation applies as if you were able to read minds.

1) Scientifically verify, carefully, for yourself, that you aren't simply delusional, and 2) Bring that scientific verification to the attention of researchers in the field, because they have been working their entire lives to find this sort of thing.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: