Stuff of the Future


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280PLUS
May 19, 2005, 01:02 PM
From a nameless low ranking non-Pentagon source ;)

Fortune
May 30, 2005
Pg. 104
Enhancing The Warriors
By Joel Garreau
Arguably the most aggressive pursuer of human enhancement is DARPA, the Pentagon's advanced research agency. In 2002 and 2003 it granted the author unusual access to many of its program managers and scientists. On these pages is a sampling of human-enhancement programs DARPA is sponsoring in labs and collaborations around the U.S.; media access to much of the work is now curtailed.

An Energizer Bunny in fatigues
GOAL: Soldiers who perform at unprecedented levels of physical intensity and maintain that intensity for extended periods.

HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: One project seeks to boost the power and efficiency of muscle cells (for details, see main story). Alternative approaches include controlling body temperature and tapping the energy stored in fat. Like athletes, soldiers get tired and slow down when they overheat; DARPA is testing gloves and booties that wick off excess heat from exercise, thereby stabilizing soldiers' core temperatures. To tap the energy in fat, DARPA is funding research on how to trigger a fat-burning mode that the body usually enters only when deprived of carbohydrates during starvation.

The sleep-free soldier
GOAL: Troops who can function effectively without sleep for a week.
HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: Today's techniques for keeping people awake usually involve the loss of cognitive ability. A DARPA-backed project at Wake Forest University centers on a novel class of medicines known as ampakines, which are thought to reverse chemical imbalances in the sleep-deprived brain. At Salk Institute, a project seeks to harness a natural antioxidant found in cocoa (Mars, the candy company, is a collaborator on that one). Scientists at the University of Wisconsin and other research centers are studying birds that migrate for days without sleep. Other groups are studying dolphins and whales, air-breathing mammals that would drown if they slept as we do and have evolved an ability to let one portion of the brain sleep at a time; DARPA hopes to enable troops to do the same. A related project at Columbia University is studying why some pathways in the human brain are much less susceptible to sleep deprivation than others; troops might be trained to use the resilient pathways to stay alert.

Control bleeding
GOAL: Soldiers who are able to stop bleeding at will.
HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: Several DARPA projects aim at severe wounds whose bleeding can't be stopped by direct pressure. Normally, blood clots in response to natural chemical cascades initiated by the nervous system; one proposed approach is to condition soldiers to consciously release the triggering chemicals--a soldier would be able to stop bleeding by concentrating on his wound. Another approach involves injecting vast numbers of nanotech magnets that would circulate harmlessly in the blood. In the event of injury, a special magnetic field passed over the wound would cause the magnets to align, forming a dam around which clotting would occur.

Pain control
GOAL: Soldiers who can simply block ongoing pain from an injury.
HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: The body has more than one neurological pathway for pain. The pain that causes you to jerk away your hand when you touch a hot stove involves a different pathway than the pain you'll feel later from swelling and inflammation. A "pain vaccine" under development by Rinat Neuroscience, a Genentech spinoff for which DARPA provided early funding, is designed to soak up secretions of a molecule called nerve growth factor that's necessary for the transmission of the second kind of pain. The vaccine is intended to remain effective for at least 30 days.

Limb regeneration
GOAL: Troops who, if wounded, can tap an innate mechanism to accelerate healing without scars and regrow lost limbs.
HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: A blastema--also called a regeneration bud--is a mass of undifferentiated cells that can develop into an organ or appendage. In salamanders and other lower vertebrates, blastemas regenerate severed limbs; young children sometimes regrow severed fingertips. DARPA wants to harness the genetic mechanism at work in blastemas to help injured troops. The research, once viewed as extremely speculative even by DARPA standards, lately gained renewed attention.

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The Viking
May 19, 2005, 02:13 PM
Limb regeneration GOAL: Troops who, if wounded, can tap an innate mechanism to accelerate healing without scars and regrow lost limbs. HOW IT IS MEANT TO WORK: A blastema--also called a regeneration bud--is a mass of undifferentiated cells that can develop into an organ or appendage. In salamanders and other lower vertebrates, blastemas regenerate severed limbs; young children sometimes regrow severed fingertips. DARPA wants to harness the genetic mechanism at work in blastemas to help injured troops. The research, once viewed as extremely speculative even by DARPA standards, lately gained renewed attention.
Can I get enhanced strenght, speed stamina and superhumanly acute senses too? ;) :D
Hey, we might soon see Wolverines on the battlefield, complete with claws, cigar in mouth, funny looking haircuts and bad attitudes :what: :D

hkOrion
May 19, 2005, 02:50 PM
there is no spoon....

RevDisk
May 19, 2005, 02:59 PM
Such superhuman experiments usually fail, and usually cause non-reversible damage to test subjects.

The real worry is when those kinds of tests stop failing and start succeeding.

280PLUS
May 19, 2005, 03:28 PM
It reminds me of a Star Trek episode where the souped up but (now that the war is over) outcast warrior society was rebelling against the discrimination of those it had originally protected. Remember that one? :eek:

Crosshair
May 20, 2005, 01:11 AM
Several of these are unworkable and potentialy dangerous.

The "No sleep" one has been tried countless times before and usualy results in synaptic burnout. Some doctors believe sleep allows our brains to "heal" from the work of the day. One way I look at it is like overclocking ones computer CPU. It will be faster and better, but it will be hotter and have a high risk of burning out. If sleep was unessisary we would have evolved without it. A human that is awake 24 hours a day is more productive than one that must sleep 8 hours a day. Since we do sleep, and suffer greatly if we do not, there must be a good reason for it.

If one is able to control bleeding with the mind, that would be good, but causing the body to produce triggering chemicals all the time makes a person vulnerable to developing clots where they shouldn't. Also, having the nanotech magnets in the blood would possibly make a person vulnerable to stray magnetic fields, witch happen to be common around high-tech weapon systems.

The Pain Blocker has potential uses, but It should NOT be used to let a wounded soldier continue to fight offencivly. Such uses will cause further damage and possibly death. However it would be usefull to let a soldier reduce his pain so he can better treat and remove himself from the combat zone.

All the other projects seem to have at least some merrit in them.

NMshooter
May 20, 2005, 01:28 AM
I forget the author, but in a book (fiction) called "Pepperdogs" some interesting experiments were performed on some Marine volunteers.

Mostly of the "better living through chemistry" variety, but a bit more plausible.

Once you reach the 48 hour point you really aren't worth anything even if you are awake.

TarpleyG
May 20, 2005, 10:21 AM
A.K.A. SOLO, Universal Soldier, Soldier.

These guys have been watching too many movies.

Greg

Crosshair
May 21, 2005, 02:51 AM
Edit: Posted in wrong thread, My bad. :o

ravinraven
May 21, 2005, 07:52 AM
Being an old fud who can't afford Viagra, I wonder if DARPA has a program I might volunteer myself as a subject for that would..., er,...,ah... Never mind.

rr

DSRUPTV
May 21, 2005, 02:47 PM
I was thinking about universal soldier myself. I wonder if stuff like this will ever work in the real world.

Brett Bellmore
May 21, 2005, 03:29 PM
The "No sleep" one has been tried countless times before and usualy results in synaptic burnout.

The key is that former experiments in this area involved the use of stimulants, in effect over-revving the brain to keep you awake in the face of natural mechanisms trying to put you to sleep. Current experiments involve varients of the narcolepsy drug Modafinil, aka Provigil (http://www.provigilweb.org/q1.htm), which instead of being stimulants, simply deactivate the sleep inducing mechanism. So far side effects seem minimal.

Sleep doesn't appear, according to current research, to be biologically necessary. It's just an instinctual drive to cause you to hole up and conserve energy when there's nothing useful to do. The reason we get so wacked out if we don't sleep is because we've got this appliance timer in our brains, trying to shut us off for the night, and the longer we go without sleep, the more of our attention has to be diverted to keeping it from kicking in, and dropping us in our tracks. Shut if off with the right chemical, and everything seems to be just fine.

Joejojoba111
May 21, 2005, 10:56 PM
Doesn't cocaine already do most of the stuff listed there. ver batim?

Brett Bellmore
May 22, 2005, 07:57 AM
Not even remotely. The modafinil related drugs are remarkably specific and devoid of side effects. ALL they do, apparently, is make sleep optional. They don't leave you wired, they don't make it difficult to concentrate, they don't screw up your judgement, they're non-adictive, they don't even prevent you from sleeping if you really want to.

They just make it a choice, instead of a biological necessity.

So, naturally, being so incredibly useful, and amazingly safe, (Caffeine is far more harmful!) the government went and made them a controlled substance. :banghead:

The Grand Inquisitor
May 22, 2005, 08:46 AM
I think everyone else is very right here in saying that none of the idea's here are all that super secret or all that super-good. As mentioned aboved, humans evolved a certain way for a certain reason, and unless DARPA has two hundred million years to wage the war on terror, they'd better find something new than changing the human sleep cycle.

Derby FALs
May 22, 2005, 01:45 PM
The Spartans did it centuries ago.

gm
May 22, 2005, 09:10 PM
and while all this is going on, the tissues and bones are getting worn out at an accelerated rate as well.

Selfdfenz
May 23, 2005, 12:09 AM
The Grand Inquisitor nailed it.
All those years of evolution will not be easily denied and doing so may have problems down the road after the super soldier are no longer active duty.

S-

Derby FALs
May 23, 2005, 12:28 AM
Makes me want to watch "Soldier" again. :)

Third_Rail
May 23, 2005, 12:42 AM
The "evolution" in question is that we don't have night vision, not that our brains need to sleep.


If they did need sleep, why are there dreams? Wouldn't they simply shut down?

I'm with Brett on this one.

rick_reno
May 23, 2005, 03:31 AM
I spent most of my adult life working on DARPA sponsored research - nothing as strange as this stuff. They've always had a LOT of research going on, in the mid to late 80's much of it shifted from "pure" research to "applied" research. Shortly after that I stopped playing.

Azrael256
May 23, 2005, 09:10 AM
The unlimited energy thing sounds kinda neat. If they can pull that one off, it will be the best-selling diet pill in history. Pop a couple, and you're burning nothing but fat. I could deal with that. It would be unbelieveably dangerous if an anorexic type got their hands on it, and I don't even want to think of what sort of long-term metabolic side effects it might have, but it's a good start.

The sleep-free idea isn't bad, either. If they really can come up with a way for the brain to refresh itself while conscious, then sleep would be a thing of the past. There are serious problems, though, even on the conceptual level. How they plan to bring somebody down off that sort of "high" is beyond me. I have enough trouble keeping my sleep cycle regular. Screwing around with the processes of the most complex machine we know of seems like a really bad idea with the potential for serious harm.

The bleeding control sounds neat. I don't care for the idea of nanomachines swarming around in me. I plan to stay 100% organic, but the controlling bleeding with the mind bit sounds like a decent idea. It would be quite a leap for the yoga and meditation crowd. Controlling the body with the mind is a big deal to them.

While the potential for abuse in the pain control stuff is pretty high, being able to control chronic pain with a non-narcotic painkiller sounds very cool. Remove the pain from a sprain or broken bone without oxycontin? I'm in! Of course, it would require some discipline to be able to use it. Pain is there to keep you from walking on a broken ankle, but as long as you're disciplined enough to stay immobile when you're injured, this method of pain control would be extremely effective for everyone.

I won't even comment on growing new arms. That one sounds pretty far out there. But hey, if it works, it works. You'd be hard pressed to find an amputee who doesn't think growing a new limb is a good idea.

The "evolution" in question is that we don't have night vision, not that our brains need to sleep. That's an easy one. The majority of our food collection has gone on during daylight hours for the past hundred thousand years. Not only is it easier to gather berries, etc. when the sun is up due to the inability to see color in low light, but it's also a lot safer to do so while the predatory carnivores are snoozing. Also, most of our "on the hoof" protein is active during the day, and it's much easier to hunt down a moving animal than to try to stumble on one while it's sleeping. Meat has only been a significant portion of our diet since we domesticated food animals. Before that, we ate it if we could get it, but it was roots and berries for dinner most of the time. Since we didn't do much hunting at night, good night vision wasn't terribly useful, so it wasn't selected.

GEM
May 23, 2005, 12:57 PM
If they get rid of sleep, what will men to after sex? Are we expected to stay awake and share in meaningful emotional conversation?

:confused:

wasrjoe
May 23, 2005, 01:11 PM
I would be very happy to quit sleeping. It's a nuisance. I would just be concerned about long term side effects. I'll let someone test this stuff out for a while, first.

280PLUS
May 23, 2005, 02:51 PM
Are we expected to stay awake and share in meaningful emotional conversation?

WHoa! Let's not get CRAZY now!!

:evil:

Joejojoba111
May 23, 2005, 05:30 PM
Holy shat, imagine what the chambers of commerce would do to work weeks!?**%@#*%$@#

Ok then peoples, since you all can stay awake we worked out that instead of working 8-5 and sleeping 11-7, you are now privleged to be allowed to work 15 hours a day! Yes yes it is a great day for all of us, and please don't complain or we'll ship your job to mexico, thank-you. Oh, forgot to mention that in a freak accident all your union leaders died in simulanteous plane crashes this morning, sigh, no doubt due to exhausted pilots, let us pray this new medicine will prevent such a trajedy from happening again.

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