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The Pentagon is working on a secret project to allow soldiers to control weapons with their minds

Although the technology is not present on the battlefields of tomorrow, the Pentagon hopes that one day, soldiers were able to control technology such as drones, cyber defense systems via brainwaves.

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The Pentagon’s research unit is working on a project that would one day allow people to control machines with their thoughts.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is beginning the process of selecting teams for a project that would allow for the development of a neural interface, in combination with the Next Generation of Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. It is the hope that it would let troops send and receive information through brain waves.

“DARPA wants proposals to design, build, demonstrate, and validate a non-surgical neural interface system to broaden the applicability of neural interfaces for the able-bodied warfighter,” a summary of the proposal reads. “The latest technology has as goal to neural recording and stimulating sub-millimeter spatial resolution.”

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A paper on the proposal, with the funding details, eligibility requirements and the application review process was written on March 23, 2018.

News of the proposal was first reported by Nextgov.

Although the technology is not present on the battlefields of tomorrow, the Pentagon hopes that one day, soldiers were able to control technology such as drones, cyber defense systems via brainwaves.

“From the first time that a man carved in a rock, a knife or formed a spear, people have been making tools to help them cope with the world around them,” Al Emondi, the program manager for DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, told NextGov.

Emondi added that, as the tools have grown more complex over time, they have still required a form of physical interaction with them. “What neural interfaces promise is a richer, more powerful and more natural experience that our brain in fact is the tool.”

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s of the project

The paper notes that DARPA has previously developed “neural interfaces designed to restore the function of the injured warrior,” but the N3 program provides for a broadening of the applicability of neural interfaces for the able-bodied warfighter.”

N3 has two focus areas: a non-invasive approach that sensors and stimulators integrated in a device; and a minutely invasive approach to record brain activity.

The paper describes the “minutely invasive” approach with the developed technology serves as an interface between the target neurons and the sensor/stimulator.”

There are hurdles with both approaches, including problems with “signal scattering, attenuation, and the signal-to-noise ratio usually seen in the state of the art non-invasive neural interfaces.”

To date, this type of technology is difficult to achieve, but the recent developments in the field of biomedical engineering, neuroscience, synthetic biology and nanotechnology could make this type of placement is feasible, Emondi said in a comment obtained by The Daily Mail.

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The program will have three phases for both areas of focus, with a duration of 12, 18 and 18 months, respectively. Areas such as efficiency, safety, and the effectiveness of the systems will be measured to determine whether the program is feasible on a longer term basis.

There are also questions of privacy and ethics, those who Emondi appears hopeful can be answered without care.

“We do not think about the N3 technology as just a new way to fly a plane or to talk with a computer, but as an instrument for the actual man-machine to work together,” Emondi said in the interview with NextGov. “As we approach a future in which more and more autonomous systems will play a greater role in military operations, neural interface technology can help the military build a more intuitive interaction with these systems.”

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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