Neurotechnology and Society : Neurotechnology and Society

Neurotechnology and Society

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 Monday, October 28, 2002

Neurowarfare: Still in the Dark Ages

Russia's choice to use a neurological agent to end a recent terrorist siege highlights the potential value and pitfalls of this emerging tactic.  With several women terrorists having bombs strapped to their bodies and detonators in their hands, the situation required a stealth approach.  The neurotoxin used, believed to be an opiate relative, did neutralize the terrorists but also killed over 100 of the 850 hostages. 

While a primary focus of neuroscience is the elimination of mental health problems, the technology will inevitably be used for other purposes.  There is no reason to think that this time will be any different than at any other time in human history.  The wheel was quickly used to pull warriors on horse drawn chariots, gun power to fire iron armaments across fields, and atomic energy to build bombs to end wars.  Unfortunately, neurowarfare is slowly becoming a reality, but as this example shows the weapons being used to today are not nearly as advanced as the biosciences would permit.  

As we gain a greater understanding of behaviorial modification through neurological agents, let us suggest that a primary focus be placed on developing weapons that can incapacitate without killing.  War without death, what a concept.

8:45:50 AM    comment []