Neuroweapons, Recognition and the Law

Human beings are capable of processing images in parallel. This enables us to detect targets and classify them in 200 milliseconds, much faster than we can become conscious of what we see, and much faster than a computer could perform the same task. On a subconscious level, the brain reacts to such perception by sending a readiness signal to relevant parts of the motoric system. This signal is received a significant number of milliseconds earlier than any conscious decision is formed in the brain and passed on as a signal by its neuronal networks.

A military mastering the integration of that subconscious readiness signal into weapon systems would be able to save time by bypassing human consciousness. Such a military would possess an across-the-board superiority over enemy forces still relying on the traditional pathway human perception – human consciousness – weapons system. We shall term those weapons systems eliminating the element of human consciousness before engaging a target as “neuroweapons”.

The potential future use of neuroweapons raises legal issues which this study shall inquire into. Is the operator of a neuroweapons system capable of applying IHL? If not, is it reasonable to expect that her or his incapability to apply IHL will be compensated by a superior exercising control over decisions? These questions form part of an overarching question: is a state capable of applying IHL when employing a neuroweapons systems?
The study on Neuroweapons, Recognition and the Law is funded within the framework of the Pufendorf Chair.