American armaments goliath Northrop Grumman announced another huge technology coup this week. The company has won a Pentagon contract to develop a mindreading hat which will allow US soldiers to identify threats with unparalleled range and speed.
The military requirement was actually called Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), but Northrop don't have any truck with crazy acronyms of that type. Instead, they refer to the proposed kit as HORNET (Human-aided Optical Recognition/Notification of Elusive Threats)*.
"HORNET leverages the latest advances in real-time coupling of human brain activity with automated cognitive neural processing to provide superior target detection," says Michael House, Northrop exec in charge of brain-hat blackhat-detector kit.
HORNET is envisaged as a kind of mindprobe-augmented set of binoculars. As a soldier sweeps his surroundings in the hostile combat zones of 2012, "a custom helmet equipped with electro-encephalogram electrodes placed on the scalp" will be checking what his subconscious mind makes of what it is seeing. The idea is that the primitive parts of the human brain can spot threats which the conscious mind will miss.
When the paranoid id spots a threat, the HORNET intellect-o-specs will register this and flash up a marker on the screen, allowing the conscious mind to know what has spooked its deeper levels. The initial "breadboard" prototype test system is to cost $6.7m.
Long-time Reg readers won't have needed the headline to guess the source of the taxpayer greenbacks. Needless to say, CT2WS/HORNET is brought to you by DARPA, the famed Pentagon wingnut hothouse. The wacky military notioneers have always believed that America's brains could be its best weapon in the Wars On Stuff; though not, normally, quite so literally as this.
Northrop will lead a consortium of academic and industrial partners on the programme. ®
*We suggest Human-Enhanced Acquisition and Detection for Counterstrike in Advance of Surprise Events (HEADCASE). Or Neural Upgrade Technology Joined to Optical Binoculars (NUTJOB). Or even Manportable Intellect-Networked Detection Field-Utilised for Celeritous Kills (MINDFUCK)?