Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare (Wired)

Dec 11th, 2012 privacy, Web/Tech

Chloe Diggins & Clint Arizmendi wrote a fascinating article for Wired on what, in my and the author’s opinions, will become the sixth domain of warfare: the human mind.

Consider the following from the Wired article:

This new battlespace is not just about influencing hearts and minds with people seeking information. It’s about involuntarily penetrating, shaping, and coercing the mind in the ultimate realization of Clausewitz’s definition of war: compelling an adversary to submit to one’s will. And the most powerful tool in this war is brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies, which connect the human brain to devices.


BCI technologies are not some far flung concept for the future; they are in development and use now.  Check out the article for further illustration, but we’re already on the doorstep with this stuff.  Furthermore, DARPA is all in on this.


 I started thinking about this after reading Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense by Jonathan D. Moreno.  Quick description, via Amazon:

In his fascinating new book, Jonathan D. Moreno investigates the deeply intertwined worlds of cutting-edge brain science, U.S. defense agencies, and a volatile geopolitical landscape where a nation’s weaponry must go far beyond bombs and men.


A quick interview with Mr. Moreno:


Cyberspace is ubiquitous because it’s in our washing machines and thermostats and cars and electrical grids.  What about when it reaches our minds?  It’s already in our bodies (see wifi enabled pacemakers).  We’ve got a brainwave sensing headband that can turn on your beer tap through the power of your thoughts (InterAxon’s Muse, and I’m getting one, by the way).    When do we stop talking about cybersecurity and start talking about neurosecurity?  We have difficulty reconciling national security and anonymity/personal liberty/privacy now, without any discussion of the inner recesses of the human mind.  Imagine the legal debates just over the horizon.


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4 Responses to “Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare (Wired)”

  1. […] What was once the purview of futurists and conspiracy theorists has now become a startling reality – the creation of tools and methods to harness the power, thoughts and desires of the brain to undertake both simple and complex operations. With this new reality comes new dangers. Researchers at the Symposium demonstrated how easily the brain could be hacked for private and secret information using cheap accessible technology designed for video games and keyboards. Essentially, technology that has been developed to enhance our lives may prove to be one of our biggest liabilities as our understanding of the brain significantly increases, leading us to question what one blogger recently referred to as the need for neurosecurity. […]

  2. […] while back I wrote on the concept of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs (here too).  I’m really fascinated with this technology because it could bring a revolution […]

  3. […] I believe it represents the next great technological jump.  I’ve written about this before (here and here).  The ABA Journal released a provocative article questioning whether neural devices will […]

  4. […] the BRAIN initiative.  People have been increasingly writing about the legal implications and possible military applications for brain-computer interfaces.  A human even moved a rat’s tail with his mind. […]

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography