The Magic Man's Box

(Copyright: Getty Images)

Technology that taps into a soldier’s thought patterns could soon see action on the battlefield. But some worry about its future applications.

In Afghanistan, some soldiers are said to possess a sixth sense.

They hone their skills at the head of convoys that trundle along the dusty roads of remote mountainous provinces. As they drive, these soldiers scan ahead for signs of roadside bombs: disturbed earth, a glint of metal, or just something that seems out of place. Spotting them can mean the difference between life and death. Those who are half-jokingly said to possess the “sixth sense” are the ones that seem to have an uncanny ability to spot these almost imperceptible signs of danger.

Now, military scientists are beginning to build technologies that would give every soldier this ability, pushing the field of neuroscience from the lab and on to the battlefield.

These devices exploit…

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