Plagues, Cyborgs, & Supersoldiers

Feb 7, 2024
Plagues, Cyborgs, & Supersoldiers

What Does U.S. Government-Sponsored Research Say About the Future of Warfare?

“While these visions of the future might seem fantastical…”

I returned to some research from the Pentagon yesterday, which I had read at the beginning of the year.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of it after publishing Monday’s Outer Limits, where we explored the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI)-infused warfare

Titled “Plagues, Cyborgs, and Supersoldiers,” it’s probably no surprise that the subject of the Pentagon’s research pertained to the future of warfare. It was produced by a federally funded research group called RAND National Security Research Division.

It was written in the context of predicting how adversaries may use technology to wage war — or distract adversaries — in order to achieve their desired objectives.

For anyone interested, you can find the research report here.

Note that this is publicly available information, sponsored by the U.S. government. These are not harebrained theories from some fringe website in a dark corner of the Internet.

RAND’s report was the kind that I like to read and digest for several weeks before sharing with my subscribers. Topics like these aren’t like an M&A transaction, or a strategic investment made by a company, which are far simpler to digest and analyze. 

Because of the complexity, scale, and ramifications of the subject matter, I find it necessary to give these matters a lot of thought and additional research.

The RAND research was designed to highlight how technologies like human engineered pathogens, technology augmented humans (which RAND oddly refers to as “Internet of Bodies”), and genomics can be used offensively against adversaries.

Additionally, the report outlined several scenarios of future warfare — called “vignettes” — as a prediction of what the world might face in the years to come.

“Might seem fantastical…”

What leaped out at me from the pages was these weren’t just future possibilities. And they were far from fantastical…

Many of these things are already happening now.

Engineered Pathogens Vignette

The first two scenarios involve a human-engineered pathogen.

The RAND researchers refer to the pathogen as SARS-CoV-3, which is used by an adversary like China to achieve its geopolitical objectives.

The scenario further posits that China first vaccinates its military and half its population, prior to releasing the engineered virus globally.         

But wait! That sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it?

RAND Research Engineered Pathogens Vignette by Brownridge
Engineered Pathogens Vignette | Designed by Brownridge Research

We now know that COVID-19 was an engineered virus. It was funded by Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health through grants made to EcoHealth Alliance, which conducted the gain-of-function (GOF) research on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Whether the virus was released intentionally or was a sloppy lab leak, I’ll let you decide. But how the engineered virus was used by governments around the world is something we know.

For many western governments, the pandemic was used as the “Great Reset” that had been in planning for years by the World Economic Forum and its overlords.

And in the U.S. it was used as tool to change election laws to allow for widespread mail in voting, and to “force” the public to take experimental drugs with no long-term safety studies (COVID-19 “vaccines”).

The scenario also described additional motivations for China. 

Specifically, the engineered virus could be used to distract western adversaries so that a successful takeover of Taiwan could be achieved.

This “fictional” scenario isn’t hard to believe at all, given what we’ve been through the last few years and what we now know four years later since the initial outbreak. 

And I can’t think of a better time for China to make its move on Taiwan. The U.S., at its own doing, is embroiled in three major global conflicts now and is failing miserably on foreign policy.

I’ve long maintained that China’s operatives are already well established in Taiwan. They have been for the last few decades. 

The takeover, while it will likely demonstrate a military show of force, will largely be an administrative takeover. I predict any conflict will be short-lived, and it will be mostly peaceful.

It is clear that China is committed to controlling Taiwan’s economic engine, which is largely high-tech, in the same way that it was anxious to gain control over the financial prowess of Hong Kong in 1997. 

It’s coming, and it will have a profound impact on the technology industry, specifically anything with electronics and semiconductors. It will also impact global supply chains and future manufacturing strategies.

Needless to say, there will be significant investment implications.

Human Augmentation Vignette

The second two scenarios posited by the RAND researchers involve the augmentation of humans with electronics.

We recently explored this topic in my January 30, 2024 issue of Outer Limits, Musk’s Mind Meld, when we explored the latest brain computer interface (BCI) developments out of Neuralink.

One scenario envisioned a government employee, who happens to be a foreign operative, that undergoes a cataract surgery in one eye.

An artificial lens is implanted, and that lens contains a tiny camera capable of taking pictures of sensitive facilities, documents, and technology. 

Images are stored on a tiny semiconductor implanted under the skin, underneath the hairline.

But wait! Doesn’t that technology exist already?

RAND Research Human Augmentation Vignette by Brownridge
Human Augmentation Vignette | Designed by Brownridge Research

You bet, in fact, it has been around for more than 10 years.  

Below is an image of a prototype contact lens produced by Google back in 2014.

2014 Smart Lens from Google
Source: Google

That was a decade ago. Just imagine what the technology is like now. 

Just imagine what exists in the labs at the Central Intelligence Agency or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Whether it is a subtle contact lens capable of disguising the microscopic electronics or an artificial lens, the tech exists.

And a tiny electronics module with 1 GB of storage, and wireless receiving and transmitting capabilities would be smaller than a pomegranate seed — unnoticeable if implanted under the skin above the temple.

RAND went further afield with a prediction that brain computer interfaces (BCI) will be developed to augment “octogenarian congressional leaders” due to “poor cognitive fitness.”

The BCI can be developed to help those leaders “move and speak normally” as a way to “conceal their true condition.”

Yikes. I can’t believe RAND when there.

I’m sure we can think of a few “leaders” that would benefit from this kind of technology.

Genetics Vignette

The final two RAND scenarios revolve around genetics and genetic editing.

This comes as no surprise. 

After all, if we can use genetic editing to cure human disease, which has already been proven, we can also use the technology to develop healthier and stronger humans.

One scenario focuses on using genomics as a way to screen for recruitment. 

This is natural, considering that the first nearly complete sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2003.

This was led by the Human Genome Project, which was overseen by the National Institutes of Health, and captured more than 90% of the human genome.

Source: National Human Genome Research Institute

Since then, the costs of sequencing the human genome have plummeted as we can see above. 

Last year, costs dropped to around $500 per genome. And at least one company has already announced that at scale, it can sequence a full genome, 30-times over for accuracy, for around $100.

This means that the costs of employing genetic screening are inconsequential and would yield incredible returns by having the “right” people in the jobs that they are genetically predisposed to perform.

And already, a company that I know well, Human Longevity, has created the world’s largest database of human genomes and their corresponding phenotypes (the actual observed human condition resulting from a specific human genome).

I went to Human Longevity myself, specifically to have my genome sequenced so that I could understand if I was predisposed to any kind of disease or health condition. 

For me, knowing this in advance could give me the opportunity to make lifestyle adjustments proactively, rather than discovering my condition too late. This process has even saved lives. 

We now have the ability to understand what DNA sequences are associated with specific human characteristics like strength, speed, intelligence, and strong immune systems, for example.

But wait! Aren’t we already doing this?

Yes, in a way. The U.S. military may not be analyzing individual genomes, but it does screen the health of future soldiers based on family health history. This is, of course, directly related to genetics.

And is it so hard to believe that special ops or intelligence organizations may be taking that additional step with a DNA screening?

RAND’s second genetic scenario is about “genetic enhancement” for a specific purpose.

Its example is definitely at the outer limits, as it involves an astronaut that landed on the moon miles from the lunar outpost and is stranded. 

While this may seem like something that would happen 20, 30, or even 50 years into the future, based on my analysis, I’ve predicted that we’ll see a human presence on the moon in less than 10 years.    

The fictional astronaut receives a genetic enhancement that enables the body to consume less water and air in order to give the astronaut time to make it to the outpost by foot on limited life support.

Believe it or not, this is possible to do using genetic editing technology.

RAND Stranded Astronaut, Genetics Vignette by Brownridge
Stranded Astronaut, Genetics Vignette | Designed by Brownridge Research

As we learned in my February 1, 2024 issue of Outer Limits, genetic editing technology was used to cure an 11-year old boy of deafness. This was achieved by one genetic therapy injected into the child’s ear.

CRISPR Therapeutics recently received FDA approval for its own CRISPR-based genetic editing therapy for beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease. Again, one treatment… and cured of the disease.

So it’s not a stretch that the technology can be used to “improve” or “enhance” human DNA to give the human body “better, stronger, faster, smarter” characteristics. 

DNA edits can also be used to create more of certain kinds of proteins that can enhance human performance. While a sensitive topic, the technology now exists.

And I would argue, it has already been used.

Somewhere On This Planet

He Jiankui became famous overnight when he edited the germ line of two unborn Chinese girls back in 2018.

He used CRISPR technology to edit the children’s DNA before being born… in an effort to protect the children from HIV, which the father carried. He performed the genetic editing on the embryos as part of his experiment

I remember this like it was yesterday. I wrote about it extensively. 

He Jiankui’s scientific experiment was met with global outcry. It immediately raised ethical questions about the use of the technology… and it was considered reckless. 

After all, the children had no say in the matter, and there was no way of knowing if there would be terrible side effects once the children were born.

He ended up serving 3 years in prison in China for his transgression. 

He was released in 2022… and perhaps surprisingly, he is back in the lab. This time, his focus is on creating a genetic therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

And he reports that the children whose DNA he edited “are living a normal, peaceful, nondisturbed life.”

The point is that the technology appears to have worked. 

It’s too soon to tell if there will be any side effects, like a shorter lifespan, or higher susceptibility to another disease. Time will tell.

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize, though, that certain governments — and certain militaries — may not be overly concerned about long-term side effects.

Instead, if the technology works now, and it creates supersoldiers that give a nation state an advantage in future warfare, it is certain to happen somewhere on this planet.

Yes, some will use these technologies recklessly or for malicious purposes. And that’s precisely why we must advance these technologies with well-defined and agreed-upon frameworks. 

The “white hats” must be able to defend against the “black hats,” and that will only happen with an E/ACC mindset.

Plagues, Cyborgs, and Supersoldiers doesn’t seem to be a fantastical plot of the future, 20 or even 10 years from now.

It seems apparent that it is something happening right now.

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