France Gives Ethical Nod To ‘Augmented Soldiers’

Enhancements could include treatments that improve troops’ physical capacities and resistance to stress.

A French military’s ethics committee has given the country’s armed forces the go-ahead to begin research on developing “augmented soldiers” for improved battlefield performance.

A report released earlier this week cited research on implants that could “improve cerebral capacity,” assisting soldiers in distinguishing enemies from allies, according to the BBC.

Additional enhancements may include medical treatments to improve soldiers’ physical capacities and resistance to stress.

Keeping Up With World Militaries

The report further said that without enabling research into technologies such as these the French armed forces would be at a disadvantage compared to other countries’ militaries.

The committee said that France needs to maintain “operational superiority of its armed forces in a challenging strategic context” while also respecting the rules governing the military, humanitarian law, and the “fundamental values of our society.”

The statement included ethical “red lines” not to be crossed, including eugenics or genetic alteration and anything “that could jeopardize the soldier’s integration into society or return to civilian life,” the BBC stated.

France’s Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, provided some insight into the issues surrounding soldier enhancement at a roundtable forum before the report was released.

Red Lines of Augmentation

Parly said the French armed forces would not allow invasive transformation techniques that cross “bodily barriers” such as chip implants. However, she added, chips can be installed in a uniform.

Explaining her point further, Parly said that French armed forces would say yes to Iron Man but no to Spider-Man, referring to the genetic mutation of the latter comic book superhero.

She laid out the conditions under which a soldier would be “augmented,” which includes prior consent from the person who is undergoing such augmentation. However, she added that there could be an absence of consent under “exceptional” circumstances, but the circumstances need to be “justified.”

The other condition of allowing augmentation to take place on a soldier’s body is that it should be “reversible,” Parley said, so that the soldier can return to his original bodily condition once he’s no longer part of the armed forces.

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