'Weapons of mass disruption': Novel neuroweapons

Center for Global Security Research sponsored talk 'Brain Science from Bench to Battlefield: The Realities – and Risks – of Neuroweapons'

Mordechai Sones ,

Novel neuroweapons
Novel neuroweapons

Flashback: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) sponsored this talk entitled Brain Science from Bench to Battlefield: The Realities – and Risks – of Neuroweapons by Dr. James Giordano on June 12, 2017.

From the talk: "This is being conducted on an international scale, and so it may be a little late to start thinking about 'we're never going to use it like this and what happens if we do or we don't?'...

"What we want here is a morbidity factor, not necessarily a mortality factor. I want to make people sick. And what I do here - the virus is not necessarily the bug; the virus is what I put over the internet.

"Let me show you how I can crash a system pretty easily:

"I affect key individuals, here, here, and here. And then a take another community, and I affect key individuals there. And I take another community and I affect key individuals there. And then I do what every good attributional group does; I beat my chest and take credit for it.

"What I put over the internet is: This is a virus, a bacteria, an agent that I have infiltrated into your 'fill-in-the-blank', I say it's a weapon of mass destruction, and what I tell you it's going to do is it's going to produce paranoia, anxiety, and sleeplessness. What I've just done is recruited every paranoid hypochondriac to think that they have whatever that is, I've used salient and sentinel cases, and I create, essentially, a legion of what's known as 'the Worried Well'.

"They now flood emergency rooms, they flood their clinicians. The CDC responds back and says, 'No, no, no; there is no such a thing,' and I've created a schism of trust between the population and the polis."

The use of sarin gas in Syria and the nerve agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong-nam, and ongoing efforts in brain science by both nations and non-state actors (inclusive of a growing community of do-it-yourself/biohacker scientists) prompted renewed interest in the current and near-term possibilities of developing and employing neuroweapons.

Discourse at the meeting of Biological, Toxin, and Weapons Convention (BTWC), and ongoing efforts of a Working Group of the European Union Human Brain Project reinforced the need to more rigorously address research and use of weaponizable brain science.

In this briefing, neuroscientist and neuroethicist Dr. James Giordano of Georgetown University Medical Center discussed how new developments in brain science afford potential utility in military, intelligence and warfare operations, addresses implications of neuroweapons, and details the need for improved identification, surveillance, guidance and governance of brain science that can be used in military and warfare applications, and thus pose defined risk and threat to security interests.

Dr. James Giordano, Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program and Scholar-in-Residence in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, speaks to cadets and faculty about how advancements in neuroscience and neurotechnology will impact the future of war. This event was hosted by the Modern War Institute at West Point:

Dr. James Giordano is Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Biochemistry, Chief of the Neuroethics Studies Program, and Co-director of the O'Neill-Pellegrino Program in Brain Science and Global Health Law and Policy at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC. He is a Senior Researcher and Task Leader of the Working Group on Dual-Use of the EU Human Brain Project, and has served as a Senior Science Advisory Fellow of the Strategic Multilayer Assessment group of the Joint Staff of the Pentagon