Neurotechnologies as weapons in national intelligence and defense – An overview

James Giordano, PhD, Rachel Wurzman, PhD(c)

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2011; 2:T55-71

Advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology have necessitated discussions on the ways that such developments could be used as weapons in contexts of national security, intelligence, and defense. This paper defi nes the concept of neuroweapons, and elucidates operational issues associated with their use to aid informational and strategic intelligence, such as brain-machine interfaces to improve effi ciency in data analysis. As well, exploration of neuropharmacologic, neuromicrobiological, and neurotoxic agents are discussed relevant to their utility in combat scenarios. The limitations of emerging neurotechnologies as weapons are addressed, as both regards practical and operational frameworks, and implications relevant to formulation of ethico-legal guidelines and governance of research, development and potential use.

Key words: neuroscience, neurotechnology, neuroweapons, neurosecurity, national defense, biotechnology, weaponry.