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The Brain Computer Interface Future: Time for a Strategy

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Brain-computer interface BCI technology, a subset of human-machine interface, will impose significant utility, relevance, and strategic advantage with national security opportunities and challenges. This technology will advance computing speed, cognitive decision-making, information exchange, and enhanced computational power, resulting in substantially enhanced human performance. A direct connection between the brain and a computer will bypass peripheral nerves and muscles, allowing the brain to have direct control over software and external devices. The military applications for communications, command, control, remote sensors, and weapon deployment with BCI will be significant. Currently this technology is confined to the rehabilitative medicine community for persons with disabilities and the computer gaming industry however, China, India, Iran, Russia, Japan and European nations are actively working to improve existing electroencephalography, magnetic resonance, functional infrared, and the magnetic encephalography spectrums to develop future military applications. Similar to the experience with computer and networking technology, rapid advancements in neurotechnology will render BCI regulation increasingly challenging. This potential vulnerability will place our infrastructure and individual persons at high risk. The ability to penetrate human brains through BCI will add a new dimension to physical and cyber security. Additionally, moral, ethical, and legal issues will challenge BCI application and employment in the United States. Finally, by 2032 this technology has the potential to revolutionize military dominance much the same way nuclear weapons have done. To maintain the competitive advantage with competitor nations, it is time develop a strategy for the United States and the Air Force to lead in research, design, manufacturing, employment, exploitation, security and counterproliferation of this technology.

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