Human augmentation and the future of warfare

I’ve been reading a fascinating (though unsettling) report from a military futures exercise on human enhancement. It argues for a view of human beings as platforms, rather than as the “interchangeable components of military units or the material with which to operate the platforms – vehicles, aircrafts and ships”. It suggests that human augmentation will be crucial to the future of warfare:

Human augmentation will become increasingly relevant, partly because it can directly enhance human capability and behaviour and partly because it is the binding agent between people and machines. Future wars will be won, not by those with the most advanced technology, but by those who can most effectively integrate the unique capabilities of both people and machines

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/986301/Human_Augmentation_SIP_access2.pdf

It claims a competitive dynamic in which “Countries may need to develop and use human augmentation or risk surrendering influence, prosperity and security to those who will”. I’ve only skim read the rest of the document so far but I find this fascinatingly bleak. It frames this in epochal terms as a ‘Biotech Age’ in which we move from seeing people “as the means to operate the machine” towards a “human-centric approach to warfare where the person is armed with the capabilities to integrate fully into a single platform”.

2 thoughts on “Human augmentation and the future of warfare”

  1. We fumble our way towards recognising the increasing centaur-like species we are becoming. We glide over each additional bib or bob of a machine we happily add to the way we work/think. We have been “augmenting” for quite a while. The question we don’t ask anywhere near enough is given what the idiot machine can do what does this mean in terms of the skills/knowledge I need to make it less idiot-like, to do things that support my fellow Sapiens.

    The military have always been at the forefront of establishing the paths and their dependencies (Noble, 1991).

  2. Disagree about augmentation being longstanding, though I recognise the point. I do think we’re see a qualitative shift in which the ‘outsideness’ (for lack of a better word) of the augmented element has broken down.

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