DARPA, also known as the “mad science” branch of the US military, has announced the new program in March this year. Apparently, they’ve come up with a project called TNT (Targeted Neuroplasticity Training), and its purpose is to explore different methods in order to find the best way to activate synaptic plasticity. Simply told, this is the ability of the brain to change the connecting points between different neurons, which just so happens to be something required for the brain to learn. It is the hope of DARPA’s scientists to enable the ability of extremely fast learning by changing the ‘workout regimen’ for the human nervous system.
The ultimate goal here is to try and enable downloadable learning. Basically, you wouldn’t have to learn the new language through months or even years of studying and constantly using it, but instead, the knowledge would be “downloaded” by putting the mind into a highly receptive state. Even though this sort of ‘power’ would be beneficial to everyone, it’s obvious why the military is in a hurry to get to it since the success of failure of the missions often depends on the timing, and a faster way to train the personnel would be of great help.
DARPA has already started the program, and it has eight different projects that are being conducted in seven institutions. All of the projects will study the science behind the brain plasticity and will end with human trials. The first part of the program will try to discover how exactly are nerve stimulations influencing the brain plasticity. The next part is applying the knowledge that’s being collected right now.
Many of the people who regularly train personnel will help researchers with refining the TNT platform, so that the work will stay practical, and to ensure that the results will suit the needs of the military training. Researchers have quite a job ahead of them, and that includes comparing the efficiency between the brain with a stimulating device implanted, and the one without such help. They’ll also try to explore the ethics of improved learning, as well as how to avoid risks and unwanted side effects.
TNT’s Program Manager for DARPA, Doug Weber, was interviewed and he stated that “The Defense Department operates in a complex, interconnected world in which human skills such as communication and analysis are vital, and the Department has long pushed the frontiers of training to maximize those skills. DARPA’s goal with TNT is to further enhance the most effective existing training methods so the men and women of our Armed Forces can operate at their full potential.”
There are many guesses and theories about what achieving this fast learning might mean, or what it might bring. Some believe that it’ll simply be easier to quickly prepare military personnel, while others think that this might be the key to achieving the next level humanity and that humans can finally become the higher beings.