Brain-computer interfaces are technical means and systems that provide direct links and communication between the brain and external devices. BCIs have been used for decades in the medical field, mainly in rehabilitation, including by the armed forces to support the recovery of injured servicemembers. Interest in the use of BCIs has grown in scope, however, with increasing exploration of novel applications that aim to enhance physical and cognitive functions in soldiers and weapon-systems operators.
Research is looking into ways of leveraging BCIs to monitor cognitive workload and performance, to enhance learning, to improve training, to sharpen sensory and decision-making skills, and even to enable remote, direct control of weapon systems. Other areas of research explore convergences with the field of artificial intelligence, including using brain signals and information to train artificial intelligence systems.
BCIs could have a highly disruptive impact for the future of warfare, and their significant legal and ethical consequences merit closer analysis.
This event was the first in a series of UNIDIR webinars unpacking emerging questions related to the uses of brain-computer interfaces in the context of warfare and international security. The series covers the following topics:
An overview of the technology, including a discussion on existing and near-term capabilities and uses of BCIs;
A session unpacking possible and anticipated security risks, including weaponization and misuses of BCIs;
A final webinar exploring key legal and governance challenges.
A recording of the event is available on UNIDIR's YouTube Channel or below.
Dr Ricardo Chavarriaga, ZHAW Centre for AI & CLAIRE Zurich
Dr Ambarish Pawar, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr Caterina Cinel, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex
This webinar took place on Wednesday 15 March 2023, 14:00-15:00 CET.