Today's story was shared by many regular readers here, and all of them are asking the same question. We'll get around to asking that question, but first a thank you to all of you who shared the story. The story itself is... well... concerning. Or at least in my case, it gives me a severe case of Angst and Weltschmerz:
Now, while you're waiting for your latest Windows "update" to download, ponder this:
Microsoft has won a government contract to build augmented reality headsets for the U.S. military, the company and the Army separately announced Wednesday, securing a deal expected to bring in roughly $22 billion for the software giant over the next decade.
Microsoft said the headsets would be based on its HoloLens technology, which was originally developed for video games.
The headsets would be part of what the military refers to as an Integrated Visual Augmentation System, which projects contextual imagery and information in front of the user’s eyes.
The Army said the technology could help soldiers improve situational awareness, target engagement and decision-making skills “against current and future adversaries.”
Stop and ponder that for a while. The US Army wants virtual reality headsets to project "contextual imagery and information" to the user's eyes in order to "improve situational awareness" and "target engagement" and - get this - "decision making" skills.
Regular readers here know that mind manipulation technologies and techniques are a "favorite topic" with me, "favorite" not in the sense that I like the idea, but because the technologies have been taken far beyond what the popular imagination likes to believe. I have written a book about them, including about the evolution of a technology that allows people to read the "interior conversation" of an individual by looking at the brainwave templates associated with particular words. I call them "encephalographic dictionaries." I also reviewed technologies in that book (Microcosm and Medium, at Lulu) that allow the same word templates and even emotional templates to be modulated into microwaves and broadcast directly into someone's brain.
And "virtual reality" headsets strike me as a perfect cover to do this under the guise of "target acquisition" and "enhanced situational awareness" and so on. Indeed, the army and DARPA (the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Agency as we like to call it on this site, after a suggestion by J.B.) have already talked about such headsets using "encephalographic dictionaries" (and other "techniques") to communicate telepathically.
So now here's my real problem, and the core of today's high octane speculation: under such outside influence, could a soldier be induced to commit war crimes? Say someone surrenders, but one receives an order to "take no prisoners"? Research seems to suggest that the answer in many cases is yes. And in any case, if one is wearing a "virtual reality headset" one may be able to externally alter the "environmental" situation as presented to be more threatening than it actually is.
And then there's the problem of Microsoft itself, designers of the world's worst operating system...
...imagine entering a particularly difficult firefight, and then seeing "please be patient, we are updating your system..."
So we come to the question so many who sent the story to me suggested: what could possibly go wrong?
See you on the flip side...