Brain-Computer Interfaces Are Coming. Will We Be Ready?
Aug 27, 2020
The Department of Defense is developing brain-computer interface technology that allows the brain to communicate directly with machines. This technology may eventually be used, for example, to monitor a soldier's cognitive workload, control a drone swarm, or link with a prosthetic. However, the breadth of potential applications should be studied systematically, and policy, safety, legal, and ethical issues must be addressed before deployment.
U.S. Military Applications and Implications, An Initial Assessment
|PDF file||1.7 MB|
Arabic language version
|PDF file||2.5 MB|
|Add to Cart||Paperback44 pages||$24.00||$19.20 20% Web Discount|
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has invested in the development of technologies that allow the human brain to communicate directly with machines, including the development of implantable neural interfaces able to transfer data between the human brain and the digital world. This technology, known as brain-computer interface (BCI), may eventually be used to monitor a soldier's cognitive workload, control a drone swarm, or link with a prosthetic, among other examples. Further technological advances could support human-machine decisionmaking, human-to-human communication, system control, performance enhancement and monitoring, and training. However, numerous policy, safety, legal, and ethical issues should be evaluated before the technology is widely deployed. With this report, the authors developed a methodology for studying potential applications for emerging technology. This included developing a national security game to explore the use of BCI in combat scenarios; convening experts in military operations, human performance, and neurology to explore how the technology might affect military tactics, which aspects may be most beneficial, and which aspects might present risks; and offering recommendations to policymakers. The research assessed current and potential BCI applications for the military to ensure that the technology responds to actual needs, practical realities, and legal and ethical considerations.
Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by the Center for Global Risk and Security.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.