Pentagon Developing 'N3,' Allowing People To Mind-Control Machines And Robots Via Brain Waves And Thoughts

Mizuki Hisaka

The Pentagon is working on a cutting-edge technology that could one day allow soldiers to control machines using their minds. The project, dubbed "N3," is short for Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on this incredible project, which is a progression from their prior success with the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, according to Nextgov. The Revolutionizing Prosthetics program did just that -- disabled veterans received a brain implant, which then allowed the vets to regain their sense of touch. With their sense of touch restored, vets could control their prosthetic limbs using their brain.

Now, the N3 project aims to go one step further by developing a technology that would allow for a similar breakthrough, but without any physical implants. At this point, DARPA is working on developing an external machine and a chemical compound that would be ingested by the soldier. Somehow, the chemical compounds would work in tangent with the external machine that would allow sensors to "read" brain activity.

Al Emondi, the program manager, further elaborated on their goals.

"We don't think about N3 technology as simply a new way to fly a plane or to talk to a computer, but as tool for actual human-machine teaming... As we approach a future in which increasingly autonomous systems will play a greater role in military operations, neural interface technology can help warfighters build a more intuitive interaction with these systems."

Emondi expects there to be many questions raised surrounding the new technology, and said that "if N3 is successful... I anticipate we could face questions related to agency, autonomy and the experience of information being communicated to a user." Defense News also pointed out that there could be additional ethical, legal and social concerns that could arise with the implementation of N3.

For Emondi, the future is now. He said that "If we put the best scientists on this problem, we will disrupt current neural interface approaches and open the door to practical, high-performance interfaces."