Super soldiers equipped with neural implants, suits that contain biosensors, and thought scans of detainees may become reality sooner than you think. Find out how neuroscience is changing modern warfare, and discover the ethical implications with guest Jonathan Moreno
Conversation transcript at 24:47
SATALIA: Neuroscience code of ethics?
MORENO: Well kind of yeah. I mean you know think about um what are the sort of minimum things that we would expect in terms of control of this knowledge and these technologies. You know one idea I’ll just put this out on the table as an idea is is that only I should be able to control my thoughts and only I should be able to decide who has access to my thoughts. Now as soon as you say something like that since I’m a philosophy professor you know I know that there are already exceptions. For example although we’re preoccupied with mind reading and cool machines and maybe new drugs to loosen you up the reality is that we’ve evolved to read each other’s minds. I mean I’m reading your facial expressions you’re reading mine you know. We are learning things about each other uh just by gazing at each other. And we’re doing it instantaneously. It’s subconscious.
SATALIA: But we’re doing it naturally.
MORENO: We’re doing it naturally. Now what does natural mean? You know is it is it better because it’s natural? I mean you know people are getting poisoned by peanut butter products now you know from natural fecal matter. That’s not necessarily a good thing. So there’s you know there’s natural and there’s natural. When we start to be more deliberate when we start to use technologies that we have created is there a point at which we are uniquely led off-course. And that’s very hard to know you know. That’s very hard very hard to know. But I think we can at least articulate some of the ground rules and then figure out what would be justifiable exceptions to the ground rules.
Conversation transcript at 34:52
SATALIA: You you said a moment ago too that you think this DARPA funded research is the way to go because the alternative I guess is uh secret research with another group of researchers and this information never really makes its way to the public.
MORENO: Yeah. And I just think it’s bet I think it’s healthier for society for there to be interaction between the academy and the security establishment. I mean I I think pretty much everybody agrees with that. There are disagreements how to operationalize it how open to be. You know there are case-by-case disagreements about whether to be classified or not. But on the whole I think we should we should we should strive for you know our default position should be if any research can be done in a public way in a transparent way it should be. And I’ve been helping to sort of advise on some of those things and uh we already have too much secrecy. It it it to me I think it foments a kind of distrust in government and a conspiracy theory attitude that I hear a lot about from people who’ve read my work that I think is very unhealthy. So and yet our founders did not anticipate the kinds of considerations that might go into making secrecy necessary. So it’s a big I think it’s a big problem.
SATALIA: Finding that balance between national security and democratic openness is really what you’re talking about.
MORENO: One of the great I think it’s one of the great challenges of uh for our country in the 21st century because the technology is getting more and more sophisticated as we know. The the numbers of people who understand a particular area of technology is getting fewer and fewer because it’s you have to be so deep into a field to understand it. It’s a big problem.
Conversation transcript at 47:21
SATALIA: You say in your book that that we live in in sort of a paranoid uh anti- government uh we’re a suspicious government we’re conspiracy theorists were so many of us are conspiracy theorists. Should people be concerned about this?
MORENO: You know I think it it’s a a deep and in many ways admirable part of our culture of our political culture. I mean one of the reasons that the federal government was set up the way it was and Washington D.C. was put in the middle of nowhere at the time you know in in 1800 was because we had just gotten out of out of the clutches of this imperial power uh that was that was treading on us. So so I think there is a a in many ways an admiral mistrust of government uh in the United States. But it it sometimes goes too far. So there’s a there’s a paranoid tendency I think to to think that they’re really much smarter and much more in control of us than they really are. I mean having spent some time never been exactly in government but around government I can tell you those guys are mostly putting out fires. And and and it’s sort of to them it’s laughable that they could have the kind of control that some people think they could have. Having said that I can’t deny the historical reality that there have been attempts to have control. And there certainly have been abuses. And we we now many of them are on the record and some of them are not on the record. We’ll never know about them. But there certainly have been abuses. An example is those LSD experiments that were done in the fifties by by the CIA.
SATALIA: By non-consenting individuals.
MORENO: Non-consenting. To call them experiments is almost to dignify them too much. People were just given at one point they were just going out into the into the field putting it into people’s drinks in bars to see what would happen to them. So you know unfortunately the the abuses of the past do create a reality uh foundation for concerns that people have.
SATALIA: And on the flip side of this the paranoid group are soldiers who you say and others say are more accepting more trusting of authority and those are the people who are going to be on the frontlines of trying some of these things.
MORENO: Yeah. I’ve talked to a lot of young soldiers and and to their to the officers who are responsible for them because I’m this has been a special interest throughout fifteen years and people who go into the military tend to be more idealistic in this country anyway than people who don’t. At least that’s true during a volunteer army era. And there is some indication that they lose that idealism after a while when they’re serving. Now sometimes that’s because they’re getting older and there’s this psychological suggestion you know that we all get a little ideal less idealistic as we get into our later twenties. But part of it may be because they see the way the system works and you know they’re not always happy about it. But the reality is that these are people who not only are more for the most part more idealistic more patriotic but in many cases they have a they have a higher risk threshold. In other words they’re more willing to accept risk. So this is one of the ethical problems with asking say a a somebody who’s in Special Forces to
SATALIA: To take a pill—