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Advanced biometrics promise not only to provide more detailed information about the state of the soldier (or in some instances the state of the person the soldier is interacting with), but if this is followed to the logical conclusion, the weapons and equipment can be customizable to the user based on biometric information.
The Military Is Altering the Limits of Human Performance
Breakthroughs in biometric science mean future troops will fight with weapons that understand them—inside and out.
PATRICK TUCKER JUL 14, 2017 TECHNOLOGY
Imagine a group of volunteers, their chests rigged with biophysical sensors, preparing for a mission in a military office building outfitted with cameras and microphones to capture everything they do. “We want to set up a living laboratory where we can actually pervasively sense people, continuously, for a long period of time. The goal is to do our best to quantify the person, the environment, and how the person is behaving in the environment,” Justin Brooks, a scientist at the Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, told me last year.
ARL was launching the Human Variability Project, essentially a military version of the reality-TV show Big Brother without the drama. The Project seeks to turn a wide variety of human biophysical signals into machine-readable data by outfitting humans and their environment with interactive sensors.
The Army is not alone. The Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and their special operations forces are also funding research to collect biophysical data from soldiers, sailors, Marines, and pilots. The goal is to improve troops’ performance by understanding what’s happening inside their bodies, down to how their experiences affect them on a genetic level. It’s not exactly genetically engineering soldiers into superhero Captain Americas; the U.S. military insists they have no intention of using biometric data science for anything like the genetic engineering of superior traits. But it’s close. The military is after the next best thing.