Guidance

Human Augmentation – The Dawn of a New Paradigm

A think-piece designed to set the foundation for more detailed research and development on human augmentation.

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The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) has worked in partnership with the German Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning to understand the future implications of human augmentation (HA), setting the foundation for more detailed Defence research and development.

The project incorporates research from German, Swedish, Finnish and UK Defence specialists to understand how emerging technologies such as genetic engineering, bioinformatics and the possibility of brain-computer interfaces could affect the future of society, security and Defence. The ethical, moral and legal challenges are complex and must be thoroughly considered, but HA could signal the coming of a new era of strategic advantage with possible implications across the force development spectrum.

HA technologies provides a broad sense of opportunities for today and in the future. There are mature technologies that could be integrated today with manageable policy considerations, such as personalised nutrition, wearables and exoskeletons. There are other technologies in the future with promises of bigger potential such as genetic engineering and brain-computer interfaces. The ethical, moral and legal implications of HA are hard to foresee but early and regular engagement with these issues lie at the heart of success.

HA will become increasingly relevant in the future because it is the binding agent between the unique skills of humans and machines. The winners of future wars will not be those with the most advanced technology, but those who can most effectively integrate the unique skills of both human and machine.

The growing significance of human-machine teaming is already widely acknowledged but this has so far been discussed from a technology-centric perspective. This HA project represents the missing part of the puzzle.

Disclaimer

The content of this publication does not represent the official policy or strategy of the UK government or that of the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Furthermore, the analysis and findings do not represent the official policy or strategy of the countries contributing to the project.

It does, however, represent the view of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC), a department within the UK MOD, and Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning (BODP), a department within the German Federal Ministry of Defence. It is based on combining current knowledge and wisdom from subject matter experts with assessments of potential progress in technologies 30 years out supporting deliberations and deductions for future humans and society.

Published 13 May 2021