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1 Introduction BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE FOR THIS STUDY The development of technologies that expand and change natural human physical and cognitive performance is of increasing interest and concern. There is a long history of humans modifying both body and mind in order to modify performance; examples range from the ingestion of materials derived from nature such as caffeine or the leaves of the coca plant (from which cocaine is derived) to training regimens, electronic stimulation, and ergonomic system design. Human performance modification (HPM) practices continue today with such products as energy drinks, brain-training video games, and specialized nutritional regimens for athletes, as well as modeling of individual performance for analysis and enhancement. With the growth of increasingly sophisticated scientific capabilities in medicine, biology, electronics, and computation, the ability to modify human performance has expanded and changed. Current avenues of research span a wide array of sciences and technologies, including brain physiology and function, genetic modification, and nanotechnology. The resulting innovations will undoubtedly find their way into military forces, for good or for ill. Some innovations may even be developed for purely military use, although they are increasingly unlikely to remain exclusively in that sphere because of the globalization of the commercial research base (NRC, 2005; NAS-NAE-IOM, 2007, 2010). The committee explored how these technologies are developing, both from the standpoint of understanding what other entities may be doing, and for applications relevant to the U.S. armed forces. STATEMENT OF TASK AND SCOPE The statement of ask for this study is shown in Box 1-1. Given the broad scope of the HPM field, the committee had to be selective in terms of the topics it investigated in depth. The sponsor also provided some guidance by expressing interest not only in technologies for enhancing the performance of both individual humans and teams, but also in technologies aimed at degrading their performance. Based on this guidance, its review of the literature, the presentations it received, and on its own expertise, the committee chose three general areas of focus: Human cognitive modification as a computational problem, Human performance modification as a biological problem, and Human performance modification as a function of the brain-computer interface. 7
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8 HUMAN PERFORMANCE MODIFICATION: REVIEW OF WORLDWIDE RESEARCH Box 1-1 Statement of Task The National Research Council will form an ad hoc committee to focus on developmental capabilities in the general area of human performance modification. The committee will perform an initial review of the literature, select the most promising areas, and identify the lead players (state or non-state) in those areas. Areas of investigation include biotechnology, brain-computer interfaces, cognitive enhancement, electronics, nanotechnology, and neural implants. This does not preclude additional areas uncovered during the course of the study. The committee will exclude conventional pharmaceuticals and exoskeletons per the sponsor’s direction. The committee will then: 1) Identify and describe the technical maturity of research efforts emphasizing the top non- U.S. players; 2) Describe the research and development environment with a particular focus on governmental policy; 3) Characterize the developmental timeline for each of the technologies; 4) Assess the implications of the technology development in the 15-25 year timeframe; 5) Offer findings or conclusions on issues such as possible scientific-technology “mismatches,” research or technology “breakthroughs,” or identify “gaps” in scientific findings or technology. Reviewers of this report pointed out a number of worthy topics that were not considered here, either because they do not have a strong technology component or because of the committee’s limited time and resources: Virtual reality (though augmented reality is discussed), Ergonomics, Human simulation models, including cognitive models, Social modification of human performance, including better leadership and management, Enhancements in group cognition, and Implanted devices. COMMITTEE APPROACH For each of the HPM technologies selected above, the committee discusses the technological maturity (Task 1), implications (Task 4), and research needs (Task 5). To the extent it could, the committee comments on the expected development timelines for the technologies (Task 3), although forecasting technology development is notoriously difficult (see Appendix D). There were a number of challenges encountered in addressing the activities of non-U.S. players (Task 1) and government policy (Task 2). It quickly became apparent that the globalization of research, both in academe and in industry, precluded a nation-by-nation approach. Academic papers of interest commonly featured cooperation between researchers in multiple countries and movement of ideas among university laboratories. Companies large enough to sponsor research and development are increasingly global and have laboratories in many countries. The flow of intellectual activities is sped by the global information infrastructure, most notably the Internet.
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INTRODUCTION 9 The committee’s literature search relied on published, unclassified work, available in the English language. However, it is likely that much research in this field is not being published or is not available in English, and may be classified. The committee did receive briefings from multiple foreign researchers and did discuss foreign priorities, but this partial information did not provide a definitive picture of either U.S. or foreign government priority setting and policy in research on human performance modification (Task 2). As an interesting aside, the committee noted that in keeping with previous trends associated with science fiction serving as an inspiration for research and development efforts, today’s research appears to be strongly influenced by contemporary entertainment products, including movies, books, games, and anime. In particular, the committee noted that such concepts as the Borg from the Star Trek1 series were invoked as referents during several of the data-collection efforts, as were the X-Men2 and the Terminator3 from the movies of the same name. However, the committee also noted that such science fiction creates many false impressions of what science might be capable of allowing humans to perform. In addition to reviewing academic peer- reviewed literature, the committee and staff also put significant effort into researching popular science and considering the efficacy of the reported results against basic scientific limitations. This research and the committee’s observations are presented in Appendix D. REPORT ORGANIZATION Chapter 2 discusses several topics under the general heading of human cognitive modification as a computational problem, including applications of augmented reality. Chapter 3 explores two aspects of HPM viewed as a biological problem: human tissue engineering and fatigue research. Several topics under the general heading of HPM as a function of the brain- computer interface, including applications of nanotechnology, are discussed in Chapter 4. Appendixes A-C provide committee biographies, a list of meetings and presenters, and a list of acronyms, respectively. Important contextual issues affecting technology development are discussed in Appendix D, including relevant differences in cultures and value systems among technology developers, technology ecosystem requirements, and the identification of required scientific or technological breakthroughs. 1 Paramount Pictures, Star Trek: First Contact, 1996. 2 Marvel Comics; see http://marvel.com/universe/X-Men. 3 Helmsdale Pictures, Terminator, 1984, distributed by Orion Pictures; see http://www.imdb.com/title /tt0088247/.