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Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century

by Jonathan D. Moreno

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5614375,179 (3.81)1
Minority Report meets Dr. Strangelove in the true story of how neuroscience and related technologies are shaping national defense.

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An intriguing and occasionally frightening look at the future of neuroscience. While it's impressive what could be done to help those with prosthetic limbs move and live more normally through a brain-technology connection, the idea that the military could use the same technology to fight a more perfect, damaging war. This book does a great job behind the science and the need to explore the ethics behind these innovations. ( )
  Bricker | Jun 29, 2016 |
In Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century, bioethics professor Jonathan D. Moreno explores the hypothesis, “If national security agencies had so much interest in how the relatively primitive brain science of the 1950s and 1960s could help find ways to gain a national security edge, surely they must be at least as interested today, when neuroscience is perhaps the fastest growing scientific field, both in terms of numbers of scientists and knowledge being gained” (p. 17). Moreno uses qualifications in his previous statement since much of the work in which he is interested is necessarily classified. He structures his book into eight chapters.
In the first, he explores the work of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as well as the history of military and government-funded scientific research. Chapter two, “Of Machines and Men,” explores the differences between artificial intelligence and enhanced human intelligence. In chapter three, “Mind Games,” Moreno discusses the use of neuroscience in interrogation and how it compares to, and proves the ineffectiveness of, so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. “How to Think About the Brain” looks at work to understand the functioning of the brain and various attempts to project mental power in war. In chapter five, “Brain Reading,” Moreno describes the manner in which scientists have mapped the brain and attempted to use that information in intelligence work. Chapter six, “Building Better Soldiers,” looks at methods to increase soldiers’ effectiveness either through combating fatigue or reducing the effect of fear. In chapter seven, “Enter the Nonlethals,” Moreno looks at attempts to develop non-lethal weaponry and how developers use knowledge of neuroscience to achieve their aims. Finally, in “Toward an Ethics of Neurosecurity,” Moreno defines the dangers of dual use experiments and technology – those that might have military consequences their inventors never foresaw – and argues that the best method of maintaining an ethical approach is openness and transparency.
Moreno’s writing will appeal to both those with a background in neuroscience and those who simply have an interest in transhumanism or scientific progress. He seamlessly integrates the history of neuroscience into his discussion of current and future programs. Paralleling his historic theme, Moreno brings his bioethics background to bear in examining the ethical ramifications of the concepts he covers, both from a medical standpoint or one of international law. While some of his data may change as new material is declassified, Moreno lays a solid base on which later researchers may build. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Apr 28, 2016 |
When I received copies of Impromptu Man and Mind Wars I was a little confused. Were they fiction stories or self help books or even educational literature? So I sat down and started reading.
Admittedly I was very bored at first and couldn't read more than a couple pages at a time. As I got further into it, I started to understand more and more of what the author was talking about. Topics like DARPA, I had no clue what that was, different college science departments and the future of National security, things I had absolutely no prior interest is now suddenly so interesting to me! ( )
  mccumber_1990 | Oct 7, 2014 |
Thought-provoking book on the support of research in neuroscience by the security agencies of the government. The book covers a wide spectrum of research into the brain and how it functions as well as the mind. The results of research to develop methods by which soldiers abilities may be enhanced or enemies may be disrupted by the use of drugs and/or high tech machines is described. The need for transparency and the development of usable ethics guidelines with regard to this research and its uses is the ultimate conclusion. For those of us who like to watch sci-fi and thriller/adventure movies, some of the scenarios depicted are not so far from reality as one may think. Enjoyable read! ( )
  TKnapp | Jun 20, 2013 |
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“The world we encounter in Mind Wars is like the world in [Philip K.] Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.”
added by blpbooks | editConspiracy Times
“A fascinating and sometimes unsettling book. . . . Any academic involvement in military research presents an ethical dilemma, and Moreno’s exploration of this theme is one of the most interesting aspects of the book.”
added by blpbooks | editNature magazine
“Even-handed and thought-provoking.[Mind Wars] is very readable, and easily accessible to people without a background in neuroscience.”
added by blpbooks | editThe Guardian
“Quietly provocative . . . Moreno takes an evenhanded, thorough look at how deeply the intelligence and defense communities are involved in many of those advances and the mindfields that might lie ahead.”
added by blpbooks | editCleveland Plain Dealer
“There has been virtually no debate on the ethical questions raised by the brave new brain technologies. . . . The time to speak up is before the genie is out of the bottle.”
added by blpbooks | editWall Street Journal
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Minority Report meets Dr. Strangelove in the true story of how neuroscience and related technologies are shaping national defense.

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The first book of its kind, Mind Wars covers the ethical dilemmas and bizarre history of cutting edge technology and neuroscience developed for military applications. As the author discusses the innovative Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the role of the intelligence community and countless university science departments in preparing the military and intelligence services for the twenty-first century, he also charts the future of national security.

Fully updated and revised, this edition features new material on deep brain stimulation, neuro-hormones, and enhanced interrogation. With in-depth discussions of “psyops” mind control experiments, drugs that erase both fear and the need to sleep, microchip brain implants and advanced prosthetics, super-soldiers and robot armies, Mind Wars may read like science fiction or the latest conspiracy thriller, but its subjects are very real and changing the course of modern warfare.
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