China develops brain-computer interface technology for cognitive enhancement and military applications
05/10/2024 // Ava Grace // Views

China has developed brain-computer interface (BCI) technology for general cognitive enhancement and military applications. NeuCyber NeuroTech, in conjunction with the Chinese Institute for Brain Research, showcased a novel BCI able to interpret a monkey's thoughts and allow it to control a robotic arm.

Despite limiting their research to noninvasive technology involving electrodes in the past, advances in devices that implant directly in the brain, such as Elon Musk's Neuralink, have galvanized Chinese researchers. Analysts suggest that their progress is now being conducted at a rate that is competitive with that of the United States.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has laid out its ambition to use brain-computer interfaces for "nonmedical purposes such as attention modulation, sleep regulation, memory regulation and exoskeletons," raising national security concerns. (Related: Investigative journalist: China has been creating gene-edited SUPER SOLDIERS and brain-controlled military weapons.)

The potential for BCI technologies to influence warfighters' cognition and merge human-machine intelligence could result in a military paradigm shift, potentially leaving the U.S. at a disadvantage if it does not follow suit.

"China's strategy fundamentally links the military and the commercial, and that is why there is concern," explained Margaret Kosal, associate professor of international affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Research made more advances because of AI

The research, made more viable by advances in artificial intelligence (AI), also raises ethical concerns about a "transhumanist" future in which man and machine increasingly overlap, and dystopian concepts such as "virtual children" become normalized.

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Researchers in the U.S. have tested similar systems in paralyzed people to allow them to control robotic arms, but the demonstration underscores China's progress in developing its brain-computer interface technology.

William Hannas, lead analyst at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), noted that China is quickly catching up with the U.S. in terms of its BCI technology. "They're strongly motivated," he said of the Asian superpower. "They're doing state-of-the-art work, or at least as advanced as anybody else in the world."

He said China has typically lagged behind the U.S. in invasive BCIs – those that are implanted in the brain or on its surface – choosing instead to focus on noninvasive technology that is worn on the head. But it’s quickly catching up on implantable interfaces, which are being explored for medical applications.

Hannas co-authored a report released in March that examines Chinese research on BCIs for nonmedical purposes.

"China is not the least bit shy about this," he said, referring to ethical guidelines released by the Communist Party in February 2024 that include cognitive enhancement of healthy people as a goal of Chinese BCI research. A translation of the guidelines by CSET stated: "Nonmedical purposes such as attention modulation, sleep regulation, memory regulation and exoskeletons for augmentative BCI technologies should be explored and developed to a certain extent, provided there is strict regulation and clear benefit."

But according to Kosal, there's a key difference between how the U.S. and China approach BCI research. "The U.S. has not explicitly linked our civilian science with our military research," she said. "China's strategy fundamentally links the military and the commercial, and that is why there is concern."

In a paper published last year, Kosal argued that China is more likely to widely adopt BCI technologies in the commercial and military sectors due to its government structure and sociocultural norms, and because its neuroscience research goals are closely aligned with its military goals.

She noted that earlier adoption of BCIs could have implications for U.S. national security. "If that is something that a state can weaponize, that would change the nature of warfare," she said.

Visit for more stories involving China.

Watch this report about China's attempt to create super soldiers.

This video is from the ThrivetimeShow channel on

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