Better living through military technology
Ethics get complicated when military technology seeps into everyday life.
This story was originally reported by PRI's "The Takeaway." For more, listen to the audio above.
Modern computers, the internet, and GPS devices were all made possible by military technology. Soon, that list may include telepathic helmets, brain-operate prosthetic limbs and power-generating pants.
The power-generating pants, which use nanofibers embedded in fabric to generate electricity as they move, could be available to consumers in three years. And computer chips have already been installed in monkeys, allowing them to operate prosthetics using just their brains.
"The military is always looking for technological advantage against its enemies," Daniel Sarewitz, co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes told "The Takeaway," "and as a result it's an incredible petri dish for technological innovation that society then finds different uses for."
In fact, Nick Turse, author of the book The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, details how military technology has already permeated much of our lives in unseen ways. Turse points out that IBM, Apple, Ford, General Motors, Google and Starbucks are all, in some ways, partnered with the Pentagon and the Department of Defense.
"It's a condition I think we have to live with," Brad Allenby, the Lincoln professor of Ethics and Engineering at Arizona State University told "The Takeaway," "and I think we need to get a lot better at understanding it, because we are getting a lot more innovation out of the military."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at thetakeaway.org