J5 Donovan Group Radical Speaker Series: Neuroweapons


On 21 August SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM/J5 Donovan Group, hosted a Radical Speaker Series covering neuroweapons after several recent individuals at embassies in Cuba and China have incurred apparent brain injury following some form of ambient environmental insult or attack. The type and extent of pathological damage is significant and suggestive of repetitive exposure to either bio and neurotoxic substances and/or ultra-high frequency sonic or electromagnetic pulse stimuli. This could represent an emerging new threat vector for global conflict.


View the entire Tech Talk here. To view individual presentations, see below.



Neurotechnologies as Weapons of Mass Disruption or Future Asymmetric Warfare: Putative Mechanisms, Emerging Threats, and Bad Actor Scenarios

Part I – Michael Hoffer, MD, FACS is a Professor of Otolaryngology and Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami.  Dr. Hoffer assumed these roles after an over twenty-year military career in which he studied mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) on active duty service members. He is a clinician-scientist who performs both basic and clinical research along with his Otology/Neurotology clinical practice. Dr. Hoffer will explore the acute medical findings in a group of individuals exposed initially in one geographic area. This symptom pattern will be compared and contrasted with other relevant acquired neurosensory disorders.


Part II – Dr. James Giordano, Professor of Neurology and Biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, presents an overview of the neurological injuries incurred and provides a forensic assessment of how such insult could be produced. Dr. Giordano will cover the types of agent and devices capable of producing such effects and address how existing and newly developing brain science could be used as a “neuroweapon” to evoke biological, psychological, and socio-political/economic disruptive effects on a variety of scales. He will also describe possible pathologic processes involved in the types of insult/trauma observed in cases of “embassy encephalopathy”, and propose potential mechanisms and causes for such effects.


Part III – Dr. Carey Balaban is a Professor of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, with secondary appointments in Neurobiology, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Bioengineering and Director of the Center for National Preparedness. This presentation summarizes a facet of the Office of Naval Research (Code 34) Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Program. Basic research from the 1960s through 1980s on the effects of acoustic and electromagnetic energy exposures provide potential insights into mechanistic bases for effects on the inner ear and other intracranial contents. There are COTS devices that can produce exposures of interest. We will describe a fieldable test technology that can objectively discriminate (1) control subjects, (2) individuals with an acute concussion and (3) affected individuals from Havana.


Part IV- Dr. James Canton, Chairman and Chief Futurist of the Institute for Global Futures, addresses the potential threat actors and scenarios that might drive the weaponized use of neurotechnology. The Global Dark Networks that are evident today in cyberwar will be discussed as leading-edge models for ways that various (state and non-state) actors might engage neurotechnologies to establish an advantage in asymmetric engagements. An application of the technologic convergence model (i.e.- employing nano-, bio-, cogno-, IT- and quantum science) will provide a context for future forecasting of the potential threat and counter threat scenarios in which neurotechnology may emerge as a potent new weapon.



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