Being something of a nightowl every now and then I do what all nightowls do, I run to Wally World for Mr. Pibb and Doritos, browse the movie and magazine racks to see if anything interesting pops out at me. Well, tonight, or rather, this morning, was one of those days that it paid off. Not only is my Dorito and Mr. Pibb supply replenished, but so is my magazine rack.
The magazine in this case is Discover magazine for April, 2011, and in it, a very intriguing article by Adam Piore entitled "Silent Warrior," and the subtext says it all: "The U.S. Army wants to allow soldiers to communicate just by thinking. The new science of synthetic telepathy could soon make that happen."(p. 49). The technology in view here is a helmet that essentially function like a mind-machine interface. Sensors would then detect signals from areas of the brain associated with thought and speech, and a micro-computer would then "apply pattern recognition to decode those signals and translate them into specific sentences or words, such as 'Enemy left!'" This would in turn be transmitted by radio to another helmet, which would display the transmitted thoughts on a display, and all this "in just the time it would take a soldier to think the message." (p. 53).
The project is headed by a retired Army colonel, Elmar Schmeisser, who holds a PhD in psychology.(p. 51). The project is currently funded to the tune of $6.3 million to acquire the basic science and technology to build the helmet(p. 50).
We are, of course, given bland assurances that all this is part of a much larger project to map the brain and its functions down to the last detail, and that there are benefits to be had from it: stroke victims could be benefited, as could the mute or deaf, who could be made to "hear" or "speak" what they could otherwise not hear or speak.
What I find so disturbing about all this is, of course, the wider implications. Clearly, the military never did quit investigating the techniques of mind manipulation, and let's face it, a helmet capable of reading people's thoughts sounds like something straight out of Norse mythology or a Wagner opera libretto. Eventually, the technology, if successful, will be pressed to the point of being able to read people's thoughts remotely, and that implies of course the ability for a massive new police state, with literal "thought police."
And we should also be suspicious of that 6.3 million dollar figure as well, for the Discover article also makes it clear that this project is a multi-university affair. We are therefore, in my opinion, looking at what is probably a much larger project than meets the eye, one extending into the black projects world, and a bottomless pit of funding to make the magic helmets of yesterday's mythology the technology of the future.