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March 31, 2008

New Tomdispatch


Weaponizing the Pentagon's Cyborg Insects
A Futuristic Nightmare That Just Might Come True

By Nick Turse

Biological weapons delivered by cyborg insects. It sounds like a nightmare scenario straight out of the wilder realms of science fiction, but it could be a reality, if a current Pentagon project comes to fruition.

Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They're creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the U.S. military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at U.S. military bases.

Today, many people fear U.S. government surveillance of email and cell phone communications. With this program, the Pentagon aims to exponentially increase the paranoia...

For the past 50 years, work by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the Pentagon's blue skies research outfit -- has led to some of the most lethal weaponry in the U.S. arsenal: from Hellfire-missile-equipped Predator drones and stealth fighters and bombers to Tomahawk cruise missiles and Javelin portable "fire and forget" guided missiles. For the last several years, DARPA has funneled significant sums of money into a very different kind of guided missile project, its Hybrid Insect MEMS (HI-MEMS) program. This project is, according to DARPA, "aimed at developing tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems [MEMS] inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis." Put simply, the creation of cyborg insects: part bug, part bot.

The rest.

Posted at March 31, 2008 08:17 PM

I'll bet RADIO SHACK has better.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 31, 2008 10:17 PM

Maybe they mean to spy on the battlefields, to make sure no US soldiers decide to not kill people, or otherwise engage in old-fashioned restraint of the sort we used to characterize as part of the American/Hollywood Code of the Good Guy, pre "24".

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at April 1, 2008 12:23 AM

Perhaps the worst aspect of these new technologies is that it continues to make war more and more impersonal. This makes it easier to go to war, to decide to go to war. I suppose this is all leading to a point where you never have to commit troops, never see the people you are waging war against, never have to see that they are in fact human beings. Just press a button and the drones go in, no muss no fuss probably followed by sending in robotic bulldozers and just bury the whole mess, mission accomplished. But what am I worried about, for national leaders war is always the first choice, the best the easiest way to accomplish whatever. And at any rate most Americans never see the results of what we do in Iraq anyway, just another day. Ho-hum.

Posted by: Rob Payne at April 1, 2008 02:19 AM

On the bright side; the more complex they become, the more uncontrollable they will be.

Posted by: Monkay at April 1, 2008 02:33 AM

Oh that's nothing. Princeton is working on the "Puff Corny Project," as Porfessor Booty is recording a new rap album, which will be so excreably bad that the only people left alive after exposure will be silly jerk-off parlor leftists and college professors. And then finally Dennis can have a shot at being President of the US (of the KKK A!).

Americans generally are pathetic, but you people are just contemptible. By comparison, my colleague from Dagestan, who has never met me, responded to my qurey on our bulletin board for info with an invitation to join him when he visits his family and to attend a Dagestani wedding. That's the great thing about being me, being an honored guest in villages from Montenegro to Kyrgyzia. Great fuck, superb intellect, and global cosmopolitan, at home in remote Caucasian villages as well as London M&A conferences. Yep, that's me.

Posted by: xyz at April 1, 2008 04:18 AM

please like me.

Posted by: xyz at April 1, 2008 04:45 AM

Perhaps the worst aspect of these new technologies is that it continues to make war more and more impersonal

"Death, destruction, disease, horror... that's what war is all about, Anon. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. But you've made it neat and painless - so neat and painless, you've had no reason to stop it, and you've had it for five hundred years. Since it seems to be the only way I can save my crew, my ship... I'm going to end it for you – one way or another."
- Kirk, to Anon 7, Star Trek, "A Taste of Armageddon"

Posted by: at April 1, 2008 07:28 AM

This kind of thing makes me think the world would be better off without us humans.

DARPA is also conducting similar experiments into the concept of cyborg sharks -

Posted by: familyman at April 1, 2008 09:34 AM

To boldly go where no man has gone before, to create adversaries where none exist. Perpetually.

I had the impression that there were Star Trek watchers here, but more germane would be the complex dystopia of "Babylon 5" where civilization rises, then falls on schedule. Conflict as tool of progress.

Ahh, blessed nationalism -- our simplified solution of what it takes to protect standards of comfort.

The April 1st thing where people place bogus articles really is annoying because it's increasingly difficult to separate the ridiculous from the real.

Posted by: angryman@24:10 at April 1, 2008 11:31 AM

This reminded me of science fiction too: anybody know Gregory Benford's Galactic Center series? I think it's wonderful we're becoming like the Mechs.

Posted by: StO at April 1, 2008 06:55 PM