The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) has worked in partnership with the German Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning to understand the future implications of human augmentation (HA), setting the foundation for more detailed Defence research and development.
The project incorporates research from German, Swedish, Finnish and UK Defence specialists to understand how emerging technologies such as genetic engineering, bioinformatics and the possibility of brain-computer interfaces could affect the future of society, security and Defence. The ethical, moral and legal challenges are complex and must be thoroughly considered, but HA could signal the coming of a new era of strategic advantage with possible implications across the force development spectrum.
HA technologies provides a broad sense of opportunities for today and in the future. There are mature technologies that could be integrated today with manageable policy considerations, such as personalised nutrition, wearables and exoskeletons. There are other technologies in the future with promises of bigger potential such as genetic engineering and brain-computer interfaces. The ethical, moral and legal implications of HA are hard to foresee but early and regular engagement with these issues lie at the heart of success.
HA will become increasingly relevant in the future because it is the binding agent between the unique skills of humans and machines. The winners of future wars will not be those with the most advanced technology, but those who can most effectively integrate the unique skills of both human and machine.
The growing significance of human-machine teaming is already widely acknowledged but this has so far been discussed from a technology-centric perspective. This HA project represents the missing part of the puzzle.