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Could real-life cyborg armies be marching straight out of sci-fi by 2050?

By Elizabeth Rayne
Steve Aoki's Neon Future

The Borg could take over in several decades — just hope they won’t make the rest of us assimilate. Star Trek aside, it’s highly unlikely anything like the Borg cube or any freaky assimilation phenomenon is actually going to happen.

Technologically enhanced humans are another thing when it comes to the military. The U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command recently released a study with the most sci-fi title ever: “Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Future of the DOD”. The study boldly claims ear, eye, brain and muscular enhancements will be possible by 2050 (and maybe even before that).

“The primary objective of this effort was to forecast and evaluate the military implications of machines that are physically integrated with the human body to augment and enhance human performance over the next 30 years,” said the study, which was written by a group from the DoD Biotechnologies for Heath and Human Performance Council, which examines the effects of military biotechnology beyond mechanical warfare.

This isn’t the first time the military has revealed plans to upgrade the human body, as is evident in the mind-reading technology being developed to communicate over long distances without alerting enemy forces. All this would be possible with a minimally invasive implant that could potentially save lives. It’s kind of like Neuralink for combat situations. There have also been non-invasive technologies that were recently tested. The prototype of U.S. SOCOM’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) suit looked kind of like the Predator in camo but just didn’t bring the tech it was supposed to.

What the DoD fears is the dystopian future that remains in sci-fi for now, but could potentially become very real if we start merging man with machine. There were four types of cyborg enhancements that they believe could actually happen by 2050, including enhanced vision, sharper hearing, bodysuit sensors that could offer increased muscle control, and that surreal mind-reading thing, which is more scientifically worded in the study as “direct neural enhancement of the human brain for two-way data transfer.”

So nothing Borg-level actually happens, the DoD group analyzed these potential future technologies and said they “assess[ed] their impact upon the DOD organizational structure, warfighter doctrine and tactics, and interoperability with U.S. allies and civil society.”

It isn’t just the military that will be subjected to cyborg technology within the next several decades. The DoD believes there will be civilian demand for human enhancements like Elon Musk’s aforementioned Neuralink, which is currently being tested for post-stroke therapy and the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The issue they worry about, which sounds like a scene right out of Steve Aoki’s dystopian cyborg-versus-unenhanced-human comic Neon Future (above), is a society where only some people can afford to be enhanced with superhero tech and others either refuse or just can’t afford it. They want the Pentagon to consider these ethics, and also urges that the military be transparent about how they take on and use this technology.

So long as we use cyborg implants and other technology with caution, the types of disasters that are only supposed to happen in science fiction should stay there.

(via Army Times)