Mind Wars


The Bourne Legacy” (2012) and Mind Wars


About the book

A provocative book that reads like an edge-of-your seat investigation into the intertwining worlds of science, technology, and government, Mind Wars is the first ever systematic overview of brain research and national security.

Jonathan Moreno unearths a multitude of questions about federal defense agencies’ interest in the burgeoning field of neuroscience and describes the many fascinating ethical and policy issues that may emerge from this relationship.

Moreno, one of the best-known bioethicists in the US, calls for the scientific community to be more engaged in dealing with the unintended consequences of their work. As new kinds of weapons are added to the arsenal already at the disposal of fallible human leaders and their war fighters, we need to be sure we understand how they are used.

Interview about Mind Wars on Mother Board, May 23, 2012.

Discussing Mind Wars with former US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, May 8, 2012.

Interview on LA’s NPR station, “Brain Controlled Drones,” CyberFrequencies, February 25, 2012.


Mind Wars updates [Moreno’s] earlier accounts of the military’s wars on the mind to bring us chilling news of Darpa’s latest projects.  To these he is an excellent and authoritative guide.” –The Guardian

“Imagine a future conflict in which one side can scan from a distance the brains of soldiers on the other side and learn what they may be planning or whether they are confident or fearful. In a crisply written book, University of Virginia ethicist Moreno notes that military contractors have been researching this possibility, as well as the use of electrodes embedded in soldiers’ and pilots’ brains to enhance their fighting ability. Moreno (Is There an Ethicist in the House?) details the Pentagon’s interest in such matters, including studies of paranormal phenomena like ESP, going back several decades. Readers learn that techniques like hypersonic sound and targeted energetic pulses to disable soldiers are close to being used in the field, and even have everyday applications that make “targeted advertising” an understatement. Despite the book’s title, Moreno doesn’t limit his discussion to brain-related research; he explains the military’s investigation of how to enhance soldiers’ endurance and reaction time in combat as well as various nonlethal disabling technologies. The ethical implications are addressed throughout the book, but the author leaves substantive discussion to his praiseworthy last chapter. ” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Moreno asks the tough ethical and policy questions that arise from using knowledge about how the human brain functions. . . . Accessibly written. . . . Given the topic’s provocative nature, this is recommended for all science and bioethics collections.”—Library Journal

Praise for the book

“Few people ever think about brain research as a national security discipline. This intriguing and provocative book lays out how neurotechnologies for brain analysis, repair, and enhancement can be multi-purpose and serve both good and nefarious functions. Moreno forces the reader to think about the possible dangers and the accompanying ethical issues that co-occur with the great potential benefits of accelerating neuroscience advances.”
—Alan I. Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

“Fascinating, Clear-Headed, Optimistic, and lucidly written, Mind Wars makes a compelling yet nuanced case for scientific progress in the area of neurological enhancement and for the transparent collaboration of the academy and the military.”
—Sally Satel, M.D. resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute

“The Revolution in the neurosciences is drawing increasing attention from ethicists, policy experts, and the general public. But, one aspect of that revolution has elicited little notice or comment—how those charged with insuring the national security and the military dominance of their nations will utilize the growing understanding of the human brain to achieve these ends. The paucity of attention to this crucially important topic is now over. Mind Wars presents the science, outlines the potential applications of it for military and national security purposes, and sounds exactly the right cautionary warnings about where this enormously powerful merger of the brain sciences and biodefense might go. This will certainly be the source book on the ways in which neurobiology may rewrite the rules of warfare, spying, and intelligence collection in the twenty-first century.”
—Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., Emanuel & Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics,; chair, Department of Medical Ethics, and Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania.


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