NATO plans to ‘leverage human enhancement technologies’

by Joel Gehrke at

Western militaries intend to “leverage” opportunities to “enable individuals to operate beyond normal human limits or abilities,” according to a new NATO strategy document.

“Biotechnology and human enhancement technologies (BHE) will transform our economies, societies, security and defense in unprecedented and unforeseeable ways,” the allies state. “Against this context, NATO will provide the transatlantic forum for BHE in defense and security, leveraging the potential of BHE while safeguarding against its malicious use by state and non-state actors” who might threaten the alliance.

Such concepts have been the preserve of comic book storylines for decades. Yet NATO officials maintain that a “multi-trillion dollar industry” has been born, albeit one “still in its infancy” — and it is not just Western powers that see the potential, as “Russia continues to invest heavily into” the nascent technologies.

“The Alliance’s strategic competitors and potential adversaries systematically invest in BHE technologies, including for their military and security benefits,” the NATO document states. “With biotechnological experimentation increasingly less expensive and more available today, novel proliferation risks also extend to non-state actors, including terrorist groups. This proliferation requires stronger monitoring, prevention and civil preparedness tools.”

At least some of these technologies will grow out of existing “military medicine and rehabilitation” applications, such as improved prosthetics. NATO officials also have an interest in “robotic devices worn externally to enhance strength, endurance, and mobility, providing support for physically demanding tasks” and even “Brain-Computer Interfaces” that could equip “individuals to better control technology,” as NATO’s Strategic Warfare Development Command put it in a bulletin last year.