More than Human? the Ethics of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers

Our ability to “upgrade” the bodies of soldiers through drugs, implants, and exoskeletons may be upending the ethical norms of war as we’ve understood them.

  1. If we can engineer a soldier who can resist torture, would it still be wrong to torture this person with the usual methods? Starvation and sleep deprivation won't affect a super-soldier who doesn't need to sleep or eat. Beatings and electric shocks won't break someone who can't feel pain or fear like we do. This isn't a comic-book story, but plausible scenarios based on actual military projects today.

    In the next generation, our warfighters may be able to eat grass,communicate telepathically,resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible? We only need to look at nature for proofs of concept. For instance, dolphins don't sleep (or they'd drown); Alaskan sled-dogs can run for days without rest or food; bats navigate with echolocation; and goats will eat pretty much anything. Find out how they work, and maybe we can replicate that in humans.

    As you might expect, there are serious moral and legal risks to consider on this path. Last week in the UK, The Royal Society ...

The complete text of “More than Human? the Ethics of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.theatlantic.com.

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