DARPA plans to implant chips in soldiers’ brains that will increase their performance on the battlefield and repair their traumatized brains after the war, a move that their spokesperson denies having anything to do with the creation of “super soldiers.”
For decades, DARPA, the secretive research arm of the Department of Defense, has dreamed of turning soldiers into cyborgs. And now it’s finally happening. The agency has funded projects that involve implanting chips into soldiers’ brains that could one day enhance performance on the battlefield and repair traumatized brains once the fog of war has lifted.
“Of the 2.5 million Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 of them came home with traumatic brain injury,” journalist Annie Jacobsen told NPR. “DARPA initiated a series of programs to help cognitive functioning, to repair some of this damage. And those programs center around putting brain chips inside the tissue of the brain.”
In her new book about the history of DARPA, “The Pentagon’s Brain,” Jacobsen writes about DARPA’s “classified brain programs.” Scientists, she says, are already testing “implantable wireless ‘neuroprosthetics’” to help soldiers with brain injuries. “[S]oldiers allow the tiny machines, or chips, to be implanted in their brain,” Jacobsen writes in the book. “Despite multiple appeals through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DARPA declined to grant me an interview with any of these brain-wounded warriors.”
A DARPA spokesperson told Fusion that “brain-neural interfaces” have not been implanted in soldiers, though researchers have already begun testingsuch devices by temporarily implanting electrical arrays into the brains of volunteers undergoing surgery for other neurological issues. Defense One,an online magazine that covers the military, reported last year on DARPA’s work on brain chips to treat PTSD, and said that DARPA was not yet in the testing phase. When DARPA launched its RAM (Restoring Active Memory) program last year, it projected it would be about four years until researchers were implanting permanent chips in humans.