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Cognitive Warfare June-November, 2020 Francois du Cluzel

Epigraph Quote:

Cognitive warfare (CW), the “battle for your brain,” is a new form of military combat that forms a 6th military warfare domain (in addition to air, land, sea, space, cyberspace). (See: Behind NATO’s ‘cognitive warfare’: ‘Battle for your brain’ waged by Western militaries (by Ben Norton, October 8, 2021)).  This paper explains that CW “is the art of using neuro science/technologies (S/T) to alter the cognition of human targets” in order “to harm the cognitive abilities of opponents,” “make everyone a weapon,” “harm societies as well as military,” and “capture the psycho-cultural as well as the geographical high ground” at home and abroad. CW involves “hacking the individual” via cybertorture and neuroweapons and it weaponizes individuals and entire societies so that “citizen-based agents” (collaborators with military and police) wage war against “targeted individuals”/adversaries. In cognitive warfare, anyone and everyone can be a target! The chief developer and deployer of CW is the US Department of Defense.

Hybrid warfare includes cognitive warfare (CW) as well as economic warfare, cyber warfare, information warfare, and psychological warfare. In the above post, author Francois Du Cluzel, asserts that NATO member states are already targeting (THEIR OWN) domestic populations at an unprecedented rate because the NATO military cartel increasingly sees their own domestic populations as a threat! (This is the targeted individual program!!) He adds that “CW will lead to the militarization of all aspects of human society, from the most intimate of social relationships to the mind itself.” Cluzel notes that “weaponization of neuroS/T can and will be used to induce morbidity, disability or suffering; and ‘neutralise’ potential opponents or incur mortality” – in other words, to maim and kill people. Furthermore, cognitive warfare “is potentially endless since there can be no peace treaty or surrender for this type of conflict.”

Cluzel also notes that “NATO military officers are calling on corporations to invest in NATO’s cognitive warfare research.”  So here we have an entire secret, lethal war domain now funded largely by the private sector, aka Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)Maurice Strong was selling PPPs as an alternative to representative government in the UN Agenda 21!   Whoever pays this piper gets to “selectively cull” (i.e., target) whichever part of “the herd” it wishes to eliminate. So we must ask: Which groups provide the greatest input into the selection of “blacklisted” individuals who are placed on the DHS-FBI Terrorist Screening Data Base?

Dr. Eric Karlstrom, from Part XIII. Excommunicated From Crestone/Baca, CO (NWO “Potemkin Village” For MKULTRA Cults)! Covert Ops, Globalist Spies, Psychotronic/Cognitive Warfare, & Nonconsensual Human Experimentation

(Webmaster Comment: There is so much self-serving bullshit in this article, I wouldn’t know where to start.    Please be aware that half of this article is comprised of lies.  What evil motherfuckers these people are!  Cut them off from funding and hang them before they destroy human civilization altogether.!)

Cognitive Warfare  June-November, 2020 Francois du Cluzel

June-November 2020
François du Cluzel

Executive Summary 4……………………………………………………………………………………
Introduction 5……………………………………………………………………………………………….

The advent of Cognitive Warfare 6……………………………………………………………….

From Information Warfare to Cognitive Warfare 6

Hacking the individual 7

Trust is the target 8

Cognitive Warfare, a participatory propaganda 8

Behavioural economy 9

Cyberpsychology 11

The centrality of the human brain 12……………………………………………………………..

Understanding the brain is a key challenge for the future 12

The vulnerabilities of the human brain 13

The role of emotions 15

The battle for attention 15

Long-term impacts of technology on the brain 16

The promises of neurosciences 17

The militarisation of brain science 19…………………………………………………………….

Progress and Viability of Neuroscience and Technology (NeuroS/T) 19

Military and Intelligence Use of NeuroS/T 20

Direct Weaponisation of NeuroS/T 21

Neurodata 22

The neurobioeconomy 23

Towards a new operational domain 25…………………………………………………………..

Russian and Chinese Cognitive Warfare Definition 26

It’s about Humans 28

Recommendations for NATO 32

Definition of the Human Domain 32

Impact on Warfare Development 34

Conclusion 36………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Bibliography and Sources 37………………………………………………………………………….

Annex 1 38………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Nation State Case Study 1: The weaponisation of neurosciences in China 38

Annex 2 41………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Nation State Case Study 2: The Russian National Technology Initiative 41

Innovation Hub – Nov 2020 Page of2 45

This is Allied Command Transformation (ACT) sponsored study
but the views and opinions expressed in this publication strictly re
flect the discussions held on the Innovation Hub forums. They do
not reflect those of ACT or its member Nations, so none of them can
be quoted as an official statement belonging to them.

Innovation Hub – Nov 2020 Page of3 45

Executive Summary

As written in the Warfighting 2040 Paper, the nature of warfare has changed. The majority of
current conflicts remain below the threshold of the traditionally accepted definition of war
fare, but new forms of warfare have emerged such as Cognitive Warfare (CW), while the hu
man mind is now being considered as a new domain of war.

With the increasing role of technology and information overload, individual cognitive abili
ties will no longer be sufficient to ensure an informed and timely decision-making, leading to
the new concept of Cognitive Warfare, which has become a recurring term in military termi
nology in recent years.

Cognitive Warfare causes an insidious challenge. It disrupts the ordinary understandings and
reactions to events in a gradual and subtle way, but with significant harmful effects over time.
Cognitive warfare has universal reach, from the individual to states and multinational organi
sations. It feeds on the techniques of disinformation and propaganda aimed at psychological
ly exhausting the receptors of information. Everyone contributes to it, to varying degrees,
consciously or sub consciously and it provides invaluable knowledge on society, especially
open societies, such as those in the West. This knowledge can then be easily weaponised. It
offers NATO’s adversaries a means of bypassing the traditional battlefield with significant
strategic results, which may be utilised to radically transform Western societies.

The instruments of information warfare, along with the addition of “neuro-weapons” adds to
future technological perspectives, suggesting that the cognitive field will be one of tomor
row’s battlefields. This perspective is further strengthened in by the rapid advances of NBICs
(Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences) and the
understanding of the brain. NATO’s adversaries are already investing heavily in these new

NATO needs to anticipate advances in these technologies by raising the awareness on the true
potential of CW. Whatever the nature and object of warfare, it always comes down to a clash
of human wills, and therefore what defines victory will be the ability to impose a desired be
haviour on a chosen audience. Actions undertaken in the five domains – air, land, sea, space
and cyber – are all executed in order to have an effect on the human domain. It is therefore
time for NATO to recognise the renewed importance of the sixth operational domain, namely
the Human Domain.


Individual and organisational cognitive capabilities will be of paramount importance because
of the speed and volume of information available in the modern battlespace. If modern tech
nology holds the promise of improving human cognitive performance, it also holds the seeds
of serious threats for military organisations.

Because organisations are made up of human beings, human limitations and preferences ul
timately affect organisational behaviour and decision-making processes. Military organisa

tions are subject to the problem of limited rationality, but this constraint is often overlooked in


In an environment permeated with technology and overloaded with information, managing
the cognitive abilities within military organisations will be key, while developing capabilities
to harm the cognitive abilities of opponents will be a necessity. In other words, NATO will
need to get the ability to safeguard her decision-making process and disrupt the adversary’s

This study intends to respond to the three following questions:

Improve awareness on Cognitive Warfare, including a better understanding of the
risks and opportunities of new Cognitive / Human Mind technologies;

Provide ‘out-of-the-box’ insight on Cognitive Warfare;

And to provide strategic level arguments to SACT as to recommend, or not,
Cognitive / Human Mind as an Operational Domain.

The advent of Cognitive Warfare

From Information Warfare to Cognitive Warfare

Information warfare (IW) is the most related, and, thus, the most easily conflated, type of
warfare with regards to cognitive warfare. However, there are key distinctions that make
cognitive warfare unique enough to be addressed under its own jurisdiction. As a concept, IW
was first coined and developed under US Military doctrine, and has subsequently been adopted in different forms by several nations.

As former US Navy Commander Stuart Green de
scribed it
as, Information operations, the closest2
existing American doctrinal concept for cognitive

warfare, consists of five
core capabilities, or ele
ments. These include electronic warfare, computer

network operations, PsyOps, military deception,

and operational security.”

Succinctly, Information Warfare aims at controlling
the flow of information. 
Information warfare has been designed primarily to support objectives defined by the tradi
tional mission of military organisations – namely, to produce lethal kinetic effects on the bat
tlefield. It was not designed to achieve lasting political successes.

As defined by Clint Watts, cognitive Warfare opposes the capacities to know and to produce,

it actively thwarts knowledge. Cognitive sciences cover all the sciences that concern knowl

edge and its processes (psychology, linguistics, neurobiology, logic and more).

Cognitive Warfare degrades the capacity to know, produce or thwart knowledge. Cognitive
sciences cover all the sciences that concern knowledge and its processes (psychology, linguis
tics, neurobiology, logic and more).

Cognitive Warfare is therefore the way of using
knowledge for a conflicting purpose. In its broadest
sense, cognitive warfare is not limited to the military
or institutional world. Since the early 1990s, this ca
pability has tended to be applied to the political,
economic, cultural and societal fields.

Any user of modern information technologies is a
potential target. It targets the whole of a nation’s
human capital.

“Conflicts will increasingly depend
on/and revolve around, information
and communications— (…) Indeed,
both cyberwar and netwar are
modes of conflict that are largely
about “knowledge”—about who
knows what, when, where, and why,
and about how secure a society

John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt
The Advent of Netwar, RAND, 1996

“Big Data allows us to develop fabu
lous calculation and analysis per
formances, but what makes it possi
ble to respond to a situation is rea
son and reason is what enables to
take a decision in what is not calcu
lable, otherwise we only confirm the
state of affairs.”

Bernard Stiegler

The most striking shift of this practice from the military, to the civilian, world is the perva
siveness of CW activities across everyday life that sit outside the normal peace-crisis-conflict
construct (with harmful effects). Even if a cognitive war could be conducted to complement to
a military conflict, it can also be conducted alone, without any link to an engagement of the
armed forces. Moreover, cognitive warfare is potentially endless since there can be no peace
treaty or surrender for this type of conflict.

Evidence now exists that shows new CW tools & techniques target military personnel directly,

not only with classical information weapons but also with a constantly growing and rapidly
evolving arsenal of neuro-weapons, targeting the brain. It is important to recognise various
nations dedicated endeavours to develop non-kinetic operations, that target the Human with
effects at every level – from the individual level, up to the socio-political level.

Hacking the individual

The revolution in information technology has enabled cognitive manipulations of a new kind,
on an unprecedented and highly elaborate scale. All this happens at much lower cost than in
the past, when it was necessary to create effects and impact through non-virtual actions in the
physical realm. Thus, in a continuous process, classical military capabilities do not counter
cognitive warfare. Despite the military having difficulty in recognising the reality and effec
tiveness of the phenomena associated with cognitive warfare, the relevance of kinetic and re
source-intensive means of warfare is nonetheless diminishing.

Social engineering always starts with a deep dive into the human environment of the target.
The goal is to understand the psychology of the targeted people. This phase is more
tant than any other as it allows not only

the precise targeting of the right people but

also to anticipate reactions, and to develop

empathy. Understanding the human envi

ronment is the key to building the trust

that will ultimately lead to the desired re

sults. Humans are an easy target since they

all contribute by providing information on

themselves, making the adversaries’
more powerful.4

In any case NATO’s adversaries focus on identifying the Alliance’s centres of gravity and vul
nerabilities. They have long identified that the main vulnerability is the human. It is easy to
nd these centres of gravity in open societies because they are reflected in the study of human
and social sciences such as political science, history, geography, biology, philosophy, voting
systems, public administration, international politics, international relations, religious studies,
education, sociology, arts and culture

Cognitive Warfare is a war of ideologies that strives to erode the trust that underpins every

“Social engineering is the art and science of
getting people to comply to your wishes. It is
not a way of mind control, it will not allow
you to get people to perform tasks wildly
outside of their normal behaviour and it is
far from foolproof”

Harl, People Hacking, 1997

Trust is the target

Cognitive warfare pursues the objective of undermining trust (public trust in electoral pro
cesses, trust in institutions, allies, politicians…).
, therefore the individual becomes the5
weapon, while the goal is not to attack what individuals think but rather t
he way they think .6

It has the potential to unravel the entire social contract that underpins societies.

It is natural to trust the senses, to believe what is seen and read. But the democratisation of
automated tools and techniques using AI, no longer requiring a technological background,
enables anyone to distort information and to further undermine trust in open societies. The
use of fake news, deep fakes, Trojan horses, and digital avatars will create new suspicions
which anyone can exploit.

It is easier and cheaper for adversaries to undermine trust in our own systems than to attack
our power grids, factories or military compounds. Hence, it is likely that in the near future

there will be more attacks, from a growing and much more diverse number of potential play

ers with a greater risk for escalation or miscalculation. The characteristics of cyberspace (lack

of regulation, difficulties and associated risks of attribution of attacks in particular) mean that

new actors, either state or non-state, are to be expected

As the example of COVID-19 shows, the massive amount of texts on the subject, including
deliberately biased texts (example is the Lancet study on chloroquine) created an information
and knowledge overload which, in turn, generates both a loss of credibility and a need for
closure. Therefore the ability for humans to question, normally, any data/information pre
sented is hampered, with a tendency to fall back on biases to the detriment of unfettered deci

It applies to trust among individuals as well as groups, political alliances and societies.
Trust, in particular among allies, is a targeted vulnerability. As any international institu
tion does, NATO relies on trust between its partners. Trust is based not only on respecting

some explicit and tangible agreements, but also on
invisible contracts, on sharing values,
which is not easy when such a proportion of allied nations have been fighting each other for

centuries. This has left wounds and scars creating a cognitive/information landscape that our

adversaries study with great care. Their objective is to identify the
Cognitive Centers of
of the Alliance, which they will target with info-weapons.”8

Cognitive Warfare, a participatory propaganda9

In many ways, cognitive warfare can be compared to propaganda, which can be defined as “a
set of methods employed by an organised group that wants to bring about the active or pas

sive participation in its actions of a mass of individuals, psychologically unified through psy

chological manipulations and incorporated in an organisation.”

Behavioural economics (BE) is defined as a method of economic analysis that applies psycho
logical insights into human behaviour to explain economic decision-making.

As research into decision-making shows, behaviour becomes increasingly computational, BE
is at the crossroad between hard science and soft science

Operationally, this means massive and methodical use of behavioural data and the develop
ment of methods to aggressively seek out new data sources. With the vast amount of (behav
ioural) data that everyone generates mostly without our consent and awareness, further ma
nipulation is easily achievable.

The large digital economy companies have developed new data capture methods, allowing
the inference of personal information that users may not necessarily intend to disclose. The
excess data has become the basis for new prediction markets called targeted advertising.

Here is the origin of surveillance capitalism in an unprecedented and lucrative brew: behav
ioural surplus, data science, material infrastructure, computational power, algorithmic sys

tems, and automated platforms”, claims Soshanna Zuboff

In democratic societies, advertising has quickly become as important as research. It has finally
become the cornerstone of a new type of business that depends on large-scale online monitor

The target is the human being in the broadest sense
and it is easy to divert the data obtained from just
commercial purposes, as the Cambridge Analytica
(CA) scandal demonstrated.

Thus, the lack of regulation of the digital space – the
so-called “data swamp”- does not only benefit the

digital-age regimes, which “can exert remarkable

control over not just computer networks and hu

man bodies, but the minds of their citizens as


It can also be utilised for malign purposes as the
example of the CA scandal has shown.

CA digital model outlined how to combine personal data with machine learning for political
ends by profiling individual voters in order to target them with personalised political adver

Using the most advanced survey and psychometrics techniques, Cambridge Analytica was
actually able to collect a vast amount of individuals’ data that helped them understand
through economics, demographics, social and behavioural information what each of them
thought. It literally provided the company a window into the minds of people.

The gigantic collection of data organised via digital technologies is today primarily used to
define and anticipate human behaviour. Behavioural knowledge is a strategic asset. “Behav

ioural economics adapts psychology research to economic models, thus creating more accu

rate representations of human interactions.”

Cambridge Analytica has demonstrated how its possible […] to leverage tools to build a
scaled-down version of the massive surveillance and manipulation machines”

Technology is going on unabated
and will continue to go on unabated.
[…] Because technology is going so
fast and because people don’t under
stand it, there was always going to be
a Cambridge Analytica.”

Julian Wheatland

Ex-Chief Operating Officer of

Cambridge Analytica

As shown by the example of Cambridge Analytica, one can weaponise such knowledge and
develop appropriate offensive and defensive capabilities, paving the way for virtual societal

A systematic use of BE methods applied to the military could lead to better under17
standing of how individuals and groups behave and think, eventually leading to a wider un

derstanding of the decision-making environment of adversaries. There is a real risk that ac

cess to behavioural data utilising the tools and techniques of BE, as shown by the example of

Cambridge Analytica, could allow any malicious actor- whether state or non-state- to strate

gically harm open societies and their instruments of power.


Assuming that technology affects everyone, studying and understanding human behaviour
in relation to technology is vital as the line between cyberspace and the real world is becom
ing blurry.

The exponentially increasing impact of cybernetics, digital technologies, and virtuality can
only be gauged when considered through their effects on societies, humans, and their respec
tive behaviours.

Cyberpsychology is at the crossroads of two main fields: psychology and cybernetics. All this
is relevant to defense and security, and to all areas that matter to NATO as it prepares for
transformation. Centered on the clarification of the mechanisms of thought and on the con
ceptions, uses and limits of cybernetic systems, cyberpsychology is a key issue in the vast
eld of Cognitive Sciences. The evolution of AI introduces new words, new concepts, but also
new theories that encompass a study of the natural functioning of humans and of the ma
chines they have built and which, today, are fully integrated in their natural environment (an
thropo-technical). Tomorrows human beings will have to invent a psychology of their rela
tion to machines. But the challenge is to develop also a psychology of machines, artificial in
telligent software or hybrid robots.

Cyber psychology is a complex scientific field that encompasses all psychological phenomena

associated with, or affected by relevant evolving technologies. Cyber psychology examines

the way humans and machines impact each other, and explores how the relationship between

humans and AI will change human interactions and inter-machine communication

* * * *

Paradoxically, the development of information technology and its use for manipulative pur
poses in particular highlights the increasingly predominant role of the brain.

The brain is the most complex part of the human body. This organ is the seat of intelligence,
the interpreter of the senses, the initiator of body movements, the controller of behaviour and
the centre of decisions. !

The centrality of the human brain

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been fascinated by the brain, but until recently,
they considered the brain to be almost incomprehensible. Today, however, the brain is begin
ning to reveal its secrets. Scientists have learned more about the brain in the past decade than
in any previous century, thanks to the accelerating pace of research in the neurological and
behavioural sciences and the development of new research techniques. For the military, it rep
resents the last frontier in science, in that it could bring a decisive advantage in tomorrow’s

Understanding the brain is a key challenge for the future

Substantial advances have been made in recent decades in
understanding how the brain functions. While our decision-
making processes remain centered on Human in particular
with its capacity to orient (OODA loop), fed by data, analysis
and visualisations, the inability of human to process, fuse
and analyse the profusion of data in a timely manner calls for
humans to team with AI machines to compete with AI ma
chines. In order to keep a balance between the human and
the machine in the decision-making process, it becomes nec
essary to be aware of human limitations and vulnerabilities.
It all starts with understanding our cognition processes and
the way our brain’s function.

Over the past two decades, cognitive science and neuro
science have taken a new step in the analysis and under
standing of the human brain, and have opened up new per
spectives in terms of brain research, if not indeed of a hy
bridisation, then of human and artificial intelligence. They
have mainly made a major contribution to the study of the
diversity of neuro-psychic mechanisms facilitating learning
and, as a result, have, for example, challenged the intuition
of “multiple intelligences”. No one today can any longer ig
nore the fact that the brain is both the seat of emotions the in
teractive mechanisms of memorisation, information processing, problem solving and deci

Cognitive Science

Discipline associating psy
chology, sociology, linguistics,
artificial intelligence and neu
rosciences, and having for ob
ject the explicitation of the
mechanisms of thought and
information processing mo
bilised for the acquisition,
conservation, use and trans
mission of knowledge.


Trans-disciplinary scientific
discipline associating biology,
mathematics, computer sci
ence, etc., with the aim of
studying the organisation and
functioning of the nervous
system, from the point of view
of both its structure and its
functioning, from the molecu
lar scale down to the level of
the organs.

The vulnerabilities of the human brain

“In the cognitive war, its more important than ever to know thyself.”19

Humans have developed adaptations to cope with cognitive limitations allowing more effi
cient processing of information. Unfortunately, these same shortcuts introduce distortions in
our thinking and communication, making communication efforts ineffective and subject to
manipulation by adversaries seeking to mislead or confuse. These cognitive biases can lead to
inaccurate judgments and poor decision making that could trigger an unintended escalation
or prevent the timely identification of threats. Understanding the sources and types of cogni
tive biases can help reduce misunderstandings and inform the development of better strate
gies to respond to opponents’ attempts to use these biases to their advantage.

In particular, the brain:
is unable to distinct whether particular information is right or wrong;

Is led to take shortcuts in determining the trustworthiness of messages in case of informa
tion overload;

is led to believe statements or messages that its already heard as true, even though these
may be false;

accepts statements as true, if backed by evidence, with no regards to the authenticity of the
that evidence.

Those are, among many others, the cognitive bias, defined as a systematic pattern of deviation
from norm or rationality in judgment.

There are many different cognitive biases inherently stemming from the human brain. Most21
of them are relevant to the information environment. Probably the most common and most

damaging cognitive bias is the confirmation bias. This is the effect that leads people to look

for evidence that confirms what they already think or suspect, to regard facts and ideas they

encounter as further confirmation, and to dismiss or ignore any evidence that seems to sup

port another point of view. In other words, “
people see what they want to see” .22

Cognitive biases effect everyone, from soldiers on the ground to staff officers, and to a greater
extent than everyone admits.

It is not only important to recognise it in ourselves, but to study the biases of adversaries to
understand how they behave and interact.

As stated by Robert P. Kozloski, “The importance of truly “knowing yourself” cannot be un
derstated. Advances in computing technology, particularly machine learning, provide the mil

itary with the opportunity to know itself like never before. Collecting and analysing the data

generated in virtual environments will enable military organisations to understand the cogni

tive performance of individuals.”23

Ultimately, operational advantages in cognitive warfare will first come from the improvement
of understanding of military cognitive abilities and limitations.

The role of emotions

In the digital realm, what allows the digital industries and their customers (and notably ad
vertisers) to distinguish individuals in the crowd, to refine personalisation and behavioural

analysis, are emotions. Every social media platform, every website is designed to be addictive

and to trigger some emotional bursts, trapping the brain in a cycle of posts. The speed, emo

tional intensity, and echo-chamber qualities of social media content cause those exposed to it

to experience more extreme reactions. Social media is particularly well suited to worsening

political and social polarisation because of their ability to disseminate violent images and

scary rumours very quickly and intensely. “The more the anger spreads, the more Internet

users are susceptible to becoming a troll.”

At the political and strategic level, it would be wrong to underestimate the impact of emo
tions. Dominique Moïsi showed in his book “The Geopolitics of Emotion”
, how emotions –25
hope, fear and humiliation – were shaping the world and international relations with the

echo-chamber effect of the social media. For example, it seems important to integrate into

theoretical studies on terrorist phenomena the role of emotions leading to a violent and/or a

terrorist path.

By limiting cognitive abilities, emotions also play a role in decision-making, performance, and
overall well-being, and it
s impossible to stop people from experiencing them. “In the face of
violence, the very first obstacle you will have to face will not be your abuser, but your own


The battle for attention

Never have knowledge and information been so accessible, so abundant, and so shareable.
Gaining attention means not only building a privileged relationship with our interlocutors to
better communicate and persuade, but it also means preventing competitors from getting that
attention, be it political, economic, social or even in our person
al life.

This battlefield is global via the internet. With no beginning and
no end, this conquest knows no respite, punctuated by notifica
tions from our smartphones, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a

Coined in 1996 by Professor B.J. Fogg from Stanford University,

“captology” is defined as the science of using “computers as technologies of persuasion”.27

“We are competing with sleep

Reed Hastings
CEO of Netflix

The time has therefore come to adopt the rules of this “attention economy”, to master the
technologies related to “captology”, to understand how these challenges are completely new.
Indeed, this battle is not limited to screens and design, it also takes place in brains, especially
in the way they are misled. It is also a question of understanding why, in the age of social
networks, some “fake news”, conspiracy theories or “alternative facts”, seduce and convince,
while at the same time rendering their victims inaudible.

Attention on the contrary is a limited and increasingly scarce resource. It cannot be shared: it
can be conquered and kept. The battle for attention is now at work, involving companies,
states and citizens.

The issues at stake now go far beyond the framework of pedagogy, ethics and screen addic
tion. The consumption environment, especially marketing, is leading the way. Marketers have
long understood that the seat of attention and decision making is the brain and as such have
long sought to understand, anticipate its choices and influence it.

This approach naturally applies just as well to military affairs and adversaries have already
understood this.

Long-term impacts of technology on the brain

As Dr. James Giordano claims, “the brain will the battlefield of the 21st century”.28

And when it comes to shaping the brain, the technological environment plays a key role.
The brain has only one chance to develop. Damage to the brain is very often irreversible. Un
derstanding and protecting our brains from external aggression, of all kinds, will be one of
the major challenges of the future.

According to the neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf, humans were not meant to read and the in
vention of printing
changed the shape of our brains . It took years, if not centuries, to assess29
the consequences – social, political or sociological for example – of the invention of printing. It

will likely take longer before understanding accurately the long-term consequences of the

digital age but one thing everyone agrees on is that the human brain is changing today faster

than ever before with the pervasiveness of digital technology.

There is a growing amount of research that explores how technology affects the brain. Studies
show that exposure to technology shapes the cognitive processes and the ability to take in in
formation. One of the major findings is the advent of a society of cognitive offloaders, mean
ing that no one memorises important information any longer. Instead, the brain tends to re
member the location where they retrieved when it is next required. With information and vis
ual overload, the brain tends to scan information and pick out what appears to be important
with no regard to the rest.

One of the evolutions already noticed is the loss of critical thinking directly related to screen
reading and the increasing inability to read a real book. The way information is processed af
fects brain development, leading to neglect of the sophisticated thought processes. Brains will
thus be different tomorrow. It is therefore highly probable that our brains will be radically

transformed in an extremely short period, but it is also likely that this change will come at the
expense of more sophisticated, more complex thinking processes necessary for critical analy

In an era where memory is outsourced to Google, GPS, calendar alerts and calculators, it will
necessarily produce a generalised loss of knowledge that is not just memory, but rather motor

memory. In other words, a long-term process of disabling connections in your brain
is ongo30
ing. It will present both vulnerabilities and opportunities.

However, there is also plenty of research showing the benefits of technology on our cognitive
functions. For example, a Princeton University
study found that expert video gamers have a31
higher ability to process data, to make decisions faster or even to achieve simultaneous multi-

tasks in comparison to non-gamers. There is a general consensus among neuroscientists that a

reasoned use of information technology (and particularly games) is beneficial to the brain.

By further blurring the line between the real and the virtual, the development of technologies

such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality (MR) has the potential

to transform the brain’s abilities even more radically
. Behaviours in virtual environments32
can continue to influence real behaviour long after exiting VR.

Yet, virtual environments offer the opportunity to efficiently complement live training since it
can provide cognitive experience that a live exercise cannot replicate.

While there are concerns and research on how digital media are harming developing minds, it
is still difficult to predict how the technology will affect and change the brain, but with the
ubiquity of IT, it will become increasingly crucial to carefully detect and anticipate the im
pacts of information technology on the brain and to adapt the use of information technology.

In the long-term, there is little doubt that Information Technologies will transform the brain,
thus providing more opportunities to learn and to apprehend the cyber environment but also
vulnerabilities that will require closely monitoring in order to counter and defend against
them and how to best exploit them.

The promises of neurosciences

“Social neuroscience holds the promise of understanding peoples thoughts, emotions and
intentions through the mere observation of their biology.”

Should scientists be able to establish a close and precise correspondence between biological
functions on the one hand and social cognitions and behaviours on the other hand, neurosci
entific methods could have tremendous applications for many disciplines and for our society
in general. It includes decision-making, exchanges, physical and mental health care, preven
tion, jurisprudence, and more.

This highlights how far neurosciences occupies a growing place in medical and scientific
research. More than just a discipline, they articulate a set of fields related to the knowledge of
the brain and nervous system and question the complex relationships between man and his

environment and fellow human beings. From biomedical research to cognitive sciences, the
actors, approaches and organisations that structure neuroscience are diverse.

Often convergent, they can also be competitive.

While the discoveries and challenges of the neurosciences are relatively well known, this field
raises both hope and concern. In a disorganised and, at times, ill-informed way,
“neuroscience” seems to be everywhere. Integrated, sometimes indiscriminately, in many
debates, they are mobilised around the issues of society and public health, education, aging,
and nourish the hopes of an augmented man.

* * * *

Today, the manipulation of our perception, thoughts and behaviours is taking place on
previously unimaginable scales of time, space and intentionality. That, precisely, is the source
of one of the greatest vulnerabilities that every individual must learn to deal with. Many
actors are likely to exploit these vulnerabilities, while the evolution of technology for
producing and disseminating information is increasingly fast. At the same time, as the cost of
technology steadily drops, more actors enter the scene.

As the technology evolves, so do the vulnerabilities.

Some NATO Nations have already acknowledged that neuroscientific techniques and technol-
ogies have high potential for operational use in a variety of security, defense and intelligence

enterprises, while recognising the need to address the current and short-term ethical, legal

and social issues generated by such use

Military and Intelligence Use of NeuroS/T

The use of neuroS/T for military and intelligence purposes is realistic, and represents a clear
and present concern. In 2014, a US report asserted that neuroscience and technology had ma
tured considerably and were being increasingly considered, and in some cases evaluated for
operational use in security, intelligence, and defense operations. More broadly, the iterative
recognition of the viability of neuroscience and technology in these agenda reflects the pace
and breadth of developments in the field. Although a number of nations have pursued, and
are currently pursuing neuroscientific research and development for military purposes, per
haps the most proactive efforts in this regard have been conducted by the United States De
partment of Defense; with most notable and rapidly maturing research and development
conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence
Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). To be sure, many DARPA projects are explicit
ly directed toward advancing neuropsychiatric treatments and interventions that will im
prove both military and civilian medicine. Yet, it is important to note the prominent ongoing –
and expanding – efforts in this domain by NATO European and trans-Pacific strategic com
petitor nations.

As the 2008 National Research Council report stated, “… for good or for ill, an ability to bet38
ter understand the capabilities of the body and brain… could be exploited for gathering intel

ligence, military operations, information management, public safety and forensics”. To para

phrase Aristotle, every human activity and tool can be regarded as purposed toward some

definable “good”. However, definitions of “good” may vary, and what is regarded as good for

some may present harm to others. The potential for neuroS/T to afford insight, understand

ing, and capability to affect cognitive, emotional, and behavioural aspects of individuals and

groups render the brain sciences particularly attractive for use in security, intelligence, and

military/warfare initiatives.

To approach this issue, it is important to establish four fundamental premises.

Firstly, neuroS/T is, and will be increasingly and more widely incorporated into ap
proaches to national security, intelligence gathering and analysis, and aspects of mili
tary operations;

Secondly, such capabilities afford considerable power;

Thirdly, many countries are actively developing and subsidising neuroS/T research
under dual-use agendas or for direct incorporation into military programs;

Fourthly, these international efforts could lead to a “capabilities race” as nations react
to new developments by attempting to counter and/or improve upon one another’s

This type of escalation represents a realistic possibility with potential to affect international

security. Such “brinksmanship” must be acknowledged as a potential impediment to at
tempts to develop analyses and guidelines (that inform or prompt policies) that seek to con
strain or restrict these avenues of research and development.

Neuroscientific techniques and technologies that are being utilised for military efforts include:

1. Neural systems modelling and human/brain-machine interactive networks in intel
ligence, training and operational systems;

Neuroscientific and neurotechnological approaches to optimising performance and
resilience in combat and military support personnel;

Direct weaponisation of neuroscience and neurotechnology.

Of note is that each and all may contribute to establishing a role for brain science on the 21st
century battlescape.

Direct Weaponisation of NeuroS/T

The formal definition of a weapon as “a means of contending against others” can be extended
to include any implement “…used to injure, defeat, or destroy”. Both definitions apply to
products of neuroS/T research that can be employed in military/warfare scenarios. The ob
jectives for neuroweapons in warfare may be achieved by augmenting or degrading functions
of the nervous system, so as to affect cognitive, emotional and/or motor activity and capabili
ty (e.g., perception, judgment, morale, pain tolerance, or physical abilities and stamina) nec
essary for combat. Many technologies can be used to produce these effects, and there is
demonstrated utility for neuroweapons in both conventional and irregular warfare scenarios.

At present, outcomes and products of computational neuroscience and neuropharmacologic
research could be used for more indirect applications, such as enabling human efforts by sim
ulating, interacting with, and optimising brain functions, and the classification and detection
of human cognitive, emotional, and motivational states to augment intelligence or counter-
intelligence tactics. Human/brain-machine interfacing neurotechnologies capable of optimis
ing data assimilation and interpretation systems by mediating access to – and manipulation
of – signal detection, processing, and/or integration are being explored for their potential to
delimit “human weak links” in the intelligence chain.

The weaponised use of neuroscientific tools and products is not new. Historically, such
weapons which include nerve gas and various drugs, pharmacologic stimulants (e.g., am
phetamines), sedatives, sensory stimuli, have been applied as neuroweapons to incapacitate
the enemy, and even sleep deprivation and distribution of emotionally provocative informa
tion in psychological operations (i.e., PSYOPS) could rightly be regarded as forms of
weaponised applications of neuroscientific and neurocognitive research.

Innovation Hub – Nov 2020 Page of21 45

Products of neuroscientific and neurotechnological research can be utilised to affect

1) memory, learning, and cognitive speed;
wake-sleep cycles, fatigue and alertness;

impulse control;

mood, anxiety, and self-perception;


trust and empathy;

and movement and performance (e.g., speed, strength, stamina, motor learning, etc.).

In military/warfare settings, modifying these functions can be utilised to mitigate aggression
and foster cognitions and emotions of affiliation or passivity; induce morbidity, disability or
suffering; and “neutralise” potential opponents or incur mortality.


The combination of multiple disciplines (e.g., the physical, social, and computational sci
ences), and intentional
technique and technology sharing” have been critical to rapid and
numerous discoveries and developments in the brain sciences. This process, advanced inte

grative scientific convergence (AISC), can be seen as a paradigm for de-siloing disciplines to

ward fostering innovative use of diverse and complementary knowledge-, skill-, and tool-sets

to both de-limit existing approaches to problem resolution; and to develop novel means of

exploring and furthering the boundaries of understanding and
capability. Essential to the
AISC approach in neuroscience is the use of computational (i.e., big data) methods and ad

vancements to enable deepened insight and more sophisticated intervention to the structure

and function(s) of the brain, and by extension, human cognition, emotion, and
behaviour .39

Such capacities in both computational and brain sciences have implications for biosecurity
and defense initiatives. Several neurotechnologies can be employed kinetically (i.e., providing
means to injure, defeat, or destroy adversaries) or non-kinetically (i.e., providing means of
contending against others,” especially in disruptive ways) engagements. While many types of
neuroS/T have been addressed in and by extant forums, treaties, conventions, and laws, other
newer techniques and technologies – inclusive of neurodata – have not. In this context, the
term neurodata” refers to the accumulation of large volumes of information; handling of
large scale and often diverse informational sets; and new methods of data visualisation, as
similation, comparison, syntheses, and analyses. Such information can be used to:

more finely elucidate the structure and function of human brain;

and develop data repositories that can serve as descriptive or predictive metrics for
neuropsychiatric disorders.

Purloining and/or modifying such information could affect military and intelligence readi
ness, force conservation, and mission capability, and thus national security. Manipulation of

provided, could influence the ways that individuals are socially regarded and treated, and in
these ways disrupt public health and incur socio-economic change.

As the current COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, public – and institutional public health –
responses to novel pathogens are highly variable at best, chaotic at worst, and indubitably
costly (on many levels) in either case. To be sure, such extant gaps in public health and safety
infrastructures and functions could be exploited by employing precision pathologies” (capa
ble of selectively affecting specific targets such as individuals, communities;, domestic ani
mals, livestock, etc.) and an aggressive program of misinformation to incur disruptive effects
on social, economic, political, and military scales that would threaten national stability and
security. Recent elucidation of the Chinese government’s Overseas Key Individuals Database
(OKIDB), which, via collaboration with a corporate entity, Shenzhen Zhenua Data Technolo
gy, has amassed data to afford insights into foreign political, military, and diplomatic fig
ures…containing information on more than 2 million people…and tens of thousands who
hold prominent public positions…” that could be engaged by Beijing’s army of cyberhack

Digital biosecurity – a term that describes the intersection of computational systems and bio
logical information and how to effectively prevent or mitigate current and emerging risk aris
ing at this intersection – becomes ever more important and required. The convergence of neu
robiology and computational capabilities, while facilitating beneficial advances in brain re
search and its translational applications, creates a vulnerable strategic asset that will be
sought by adversaries to advance their own goals for neuroscience. Hacking of biological data
within the academic, industry, and the health care systems has already occurred – and neuro
data are embedded within all of these domains.

Thus, it is likely that there will be more direct attempts at harnessing neurodata to gain lever
ageable informational, social, legal, and military capability and power advantage(s), as sever
al countries that are currently strategically competitive with the U.S. and its allies invest heav
ily in both neuro- and cyber-scientific research programs and infrastructure. The growing for
titude of these states’ quantitative and economic presence in these fields can – and is intended
to – shift international leadership, hegemony, and influence ethical, technical, commercial and
politico-military norms and standards of research and use. For example, Russian leadership
has declared interest in the employment of “genetic passports” such that those in the military
who display genetic indications of high cognitive performance can be directed to particular
military tasks.

The neurobioeconomy

Advancements in neuroS/T have contributed to much growth in the neuro-bioeconomy. With
neurological disorders being the second leading cause of death worldwide (with approxi
mately 9 million deaths; constituting 16.5% of global fatalities), several countries have initiat
ed programs in brain research and innovation.

These initiatives aim to:

1) advance understanding of substrates and mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders;
improve knowledge of processes of cognition, emotion, and behaviour;

and augment the methods for studying, assessing, and affecting the brain and its

New research efforts incorporate best practices for interdisciplinary approaches that can
utilise advances in computer science, robotics, and artificial intelligence to fortify the scope
and pace of neuroscientific capabilities and products. Such research efforts are strong drivers
of innovation and development, both by organising larger research goals, and by shaping
neuroS/T research to meet defined economic, public health, and security agendas.

Rapid advances in brain science represent an emerging domain that state and non-state actors

can leverage in warfare. While not all brain sciences engender security concerns, predominant

authority and influence in global biomedical, bioengineering, wellness/lifestyle, and defense

markets enable a considerable exercise of power. It is equally important to note that such

power can be exercised both non-kinetic and kinetic operational domains, and several coun

tries have identified neuroS/T as viable, of value, and of utility in their warfare programs.

While extant treaties (e.g., the BTWC and CWC
) and laws have addressed particular prod40
ucts of the brain sciences (e.g., chemicals, biological agents, and toxins), other forms of neu

roS/T, (e.g., neurotechnologies and neuroinformatics) remain outside these conventions’ fo

cus, scope, and governance. Technology can influence, if not shape the norms and conduct of

warfare, and the future battlefield will depend not only upon achieving
biological domi
nance”, but achieving
mental/cognitive dominance” and intelligence dominance” as well.

It will be ever more difficult to regulate and restrict military and security applications of neu
roS/T without established standards and proper international oversight of research and po
tential use-in-practice.

* * * *. *

In sum, it is not a question of whether neuro S/T will be utilised in military, intelligence, and

political operations, but rather when, how, to what extent, and perhaps most importantly, if

NATO nations will be prepared to address, meet, counter, or prevent these risks and threats.

In this light (and based upon the information presented) it is, and will be increasingly impor

tant to address the complex issues generated by the brain sciences’ influence upon global

biosecurity and the near-term future scope and conduct of both non-kinetic and kinetic mili

tary and intelligence operations.

Towards a new operational domain

The advent of the concept of “cognitive warfare” (CW) brings a third major combat dimension
to the modern battlefield: to the physical and informational dimensions is now added a cogni
tive dimension. It creates a new space of competition, beyond the land, maritime, air, cyber
netic and spatial domains, which adversaries have already integrated.

In a world permeated with technology, warfare in the cognitive domain mobilises a wider
range of battle spaces than the physical and informational dimensions can do. Its very essence
is to seize control of human beings (civilian as well as military), organisations, nations, but
also of ideas, psychology, especially behavioural, thoughts, as well as the environment. In ad
dition, rapid advances in brain science, as part of a broadly defined cognitive warfare, have
the potential to greatly expand traditional conflicts and produce effects at lower cost.

Through the joint action it exerts on the 3 dimensions (physical, informational and cognitive),
cognitive warfare embodies the idea of combat without fighting dear to Sun Tzu (“The

supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”). It therefore requires the mobil

isation of a much broader knowledge.
Future conflicts will likely occur amongst the people digital
ly first and physically thereafter in proximity to hubs of political and economic power.

The study of the cognitive domain, thus centred on the human being, constitutes a new major
challenge that is indispensable to any strategy relating to the combat power generation of the

Cognition is our “thinking machine”. The function of cognition is to perceive, to pay atten
tion, to memorise, to reason, to produce movements, to express oneself, to decide. To act on
cognition means to act on the human being.

Therefore, defining a cognitive domain would be too restrictive; a human domain would
therefore be more appropriate.

While actions taken in the five domains are executed in order to have an effect on the human
, cognitive warfare’s objective is to make everyone a weapon.43

To turn the situation around, NATO must strive to define in a very broad sense and must
have a clear awareness of the meanings and advances of international actors providing NATO
with specific strategic security and broader challenges in the field of cognitive warfare.

Russian and Chinese Cognitive Warfare Definition

Russian Reflexive Control

In 2012, Vladimir Karyakin added: The advent of information and network technologies,
coupled with advances in psychology regarding the study of human behaviour and the con

trol of people
s motivations, make it possible to exert a specified effect on large social groups
but [also] to also reshape the consciousness of entire peoples.”

Russian CW falls under the definition of the Reflexive Control Doctrine. It is an integrated
operation that compels an adversary decision maker to act in favour of Russia by altering

their perception of the world

This goes beyond pure deception” because it uses multiple inputs to the decision maker us
ing both true and false information, ultimately aiming to make the target feel that the decision
to change their behaviour was their own:

– The Reflexive Control is ultimately aimed at the target’s decision making.
– The information transmitted must be directed towards a decision or position.

– The information must be adapted to the logic, culture, psychology and emotions of the

The reflexive control has been turned into a broader concept taking into account the
opportunities offered by new IT technologies called Perception Management. It is about
controlling perception and not managing perception.

The Russian CW is based on an in-depth understanding of human targets thanks to the study
of sociology, history, psychology, etc. of the target and the extensive use of information

As shown in Ukraine, Russia used her in-depth knowledge as a precursor and gained a
strategic advantage before the physical conflict.

Russia has prioritised Cognitive Warfare as a precursor to the military phase.
* * * *

China Cognitive Warfare Domain

China has adopted an even broader definition of CW that includes the systematic
utilisation of cognitive science and biotechnology to achieve the “mind superiority.”

China has defined the Cognitive Domain of Operations as the battlefield for conducting
ideological penetration (…) aiming at destroying troop morale and cohesion, as well as
forming or deconstructing operational capabilities

It encompasses six technologies, divided across two categories (Cognition, which includes
technologies that affect someone’s ability to think and function; and subliminal cognition that
covers technologies that target a person’s underlying emotions, knowledge, willpower and

In particular, “Chinese innovation is poised to pursue synergies among brain science, artificial
intelligence (AI), and biotechnology that may have far-reaching implications for its future

military power and aggregate national competitiveness.”

The goal of cognitive operations is to achieve the “mind superiority” by using information to
influence an adversary
s cognitive functions,
spanning from peacetime public opinion to

wartime decision-making.

Chinese strategists predict that the pace and
complexity of operations will increase dra

matically, as the form or character of war

fare continues to evolve. As a result, Peo

ple’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategists are

concerned about the intense cognitive chal

lenges that future commanders will face,

especially considering the importance of optimising coordination and human-machine fusion

or integration. These trends have necessarily increased the PLA’s interest in the military rele

vance not only of artificial intelligence, but also of brain science and new directions in in

terdisciplinary biological technologies, ranging from biosensing and biomaterials to human

enhancement options. The shift from computerisation to intelligentisation is seen as requiring

the improvement of human cognitive performance to keep pace with the complexity of war


As part of its Cognitive Domain of Operations, China has defined “Military Brain Science
(MBS) as a cutting-edge innovative science that uses potential military application as the

guidance. It can bring a series of fundamental changes to the concept of combat and combat

methods, creating a whole new “brain war” combat style and redefining the battlefield.”
The pursuit of advances in the field of MBS is likely to provide cutting edge advances to

China.The development of MBS by China benefits from a multidisciplinary approach

between human sciences, medicine, anthropology, psychology etc. and also benefits from

“civil” advances in the field, civilian research benefiting military research by design.

The sphere of operations will be expanded
from the physical domain and the informa
tion domain to the domain of consciousness,
the human brain will become a new combat
He Fuchu, The Future Direction of the New Global Revolution in Military Affairs.

It’s about Humans

A cognitive attack is not a threat that can be countered in the air, on land, at sea, in cyber
space, or in space. Rather, it may well be happening in any or all of these domains, for one
simple reason: humans are the contested domain. As previously demonstrated, the human is
very often the main vulnerability and it should be
acknowledged in order to protect NATO’s human
capital but also to be able to benefit from our ad
versaries’s vulnerabilities.

“Cognition is natively included in the Human
Domain, thus a cognitive domain would be too
restrictive”, claimed August Cole and Hervé Le
Guyader in “NATO’s 6th domain” and:

…the Human Domain is the one defining us as individuals and structuring our societies. It has its
own specific complexity compared to other domains, because of the large number of sciences it’s based

upon (…) and these are those our adversaries are focusing on to identify our centres of gravity, our

.” .50

The practice of war shows that although physical domain warfare can weaken the military
capabilities of the enemy, it cannot achieve all the purposes of war. In the face of new contra
dictions and problems in ideology, religious belief and national identity, advanced weapons
and technologies may be useless and their effects can even create new enemies. It is therefore
difficult if not impossible to solve the problem of the cognitive domain by physical domain
warfare alone.

The importance of the Human Environment

The Human Domain is not solely focusing of the military human capital. It encompasses the
human capital of a theatre of operations as a whole (civilian populations, ethnic groups, lead
ers…), but also the concepts closely related to humans such as leadership, organisation, deci
sion-making processes, perceptions and behaviour. Eventually the desired effect should be
defined within the Human Domain (aka the desired behaviour we want to achieve: collabora
tion/ cooperation, competition, conflict).

“To win (the future) war, the military must be culturally knowledgeable enough to thrive in
an alien environment”

In the 21st century, strategic advantage will come from how to engage with people,
understand them, and access political, economic, cultural and social networks to achieve a
position of relative advantage that complements the sole military force. These interactions are
not reducible to the physical boundaries of land, air, sea, cyber and space, which tend to focus
on geography and terrain characteristics. They represent a network of networks that define
power and interests in a connected world. The actor that best understands local contexts and
builds a network around relationships that harness local capabilities is more likely to win.

“Victory will be defined more in
terms of capturing the psycho-cultur
al rather than the geographical high
ground. Understanding and empathy
will be important weapons of war.

Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales

For the historian Alan Beyerchen, social sciences will be the amplifier of the 21st century’s

In the past wars, the problem was that the human factor could not be a significant amplifier
simply because its influence was limited and difficult to exploit; humans were considered
more as constants than as variables. Certainly, soldiers could be improved through training,
selection, psychological adaptation and, more recently, education. But in the end, the human
factor was reduced to numbers. The larger the army, the greater the chance of winning the
war, although the action of a great strategist could counterbalance this argument. Tomorrow,
to have better soldiers and more effective humans will be key.

Last, the recent developments in science, all kinds of science, including science related to the
human domain, have empowered anyone, whether individuals or committed minorities, with

potential devastating power at their disposal. It has created a situation never seen before in

the history of mankind
, where individuals or small groups may jeopardise the success of53
military operations.

The crucible of Data Sciences and Human Sciences
The combination of Social Sciences and System Engineering will be key in helping military
analysts to improve the production of intelligence for the sake of decision-making

The Human Domain of Operations refers to the whole human environment, whether friend of
foe. In a digital age it is equally important to understandfirst NATO’s own human strengths
and vulnerabilities before the ones of adversaries.

Since everyone is much more vulnerable than before everyone needs to acknowledge that one
may endanger the security of the overall. Hence, a deep understanding of the adversary’s
human capital (i.e. the human environment of the military operation) will be more crucial
than ever.

“If kinetic power cannot defeat the enemy, (…) psychology and related behavioural and social
sciences stand to fill the void.

Achieving the strategic outcomes of war will necessarily go through expanding the dialogue
around the social sciences of warfare alongside the “physical sciences” of warfare..(…) it will

go through understanding, influence or exercise control within the “human domain”.

Leveraging social sciences will be central to the development of the Human Domain Plan of
Operations. It will support the combat operations by providing potential courses of action for
the whole surrounding Human Environment including enemy forces, but also determining
key human elements such as the Cognitive center of gravity, the desired behaviour as the end
state. Understanding the target’s goals, strengths, and vulnerabilities is paramount to an op
eration for enduring strategic outcomes.

The deeper the understanding of the human environment, the greater will be the freedom of
action and relative advantage.

Legal and ethical aspects

Legal aspects
The development, production and use of Cognitive Technologies for military purposes raise
questions as to whether, and to what extent, existing legal instruments apply. That is, how the

relevant provisions are to be interpreted and applied in light of the specific technological
characteristics and to what extent international law can sufficiently respond to the legal chal
lenges involved with the advent of such technology.

It is essential to ensure that international law and accepted norms will be able to take into ac
count the development of cognitive technologies. Specifically, to ensure that such technolo
gies are capable of being used in accordance with applicable law and accepted international
norms. NATO, through its various apparatus, should work at establishing a common under
standing of how cognitive weapons might be employed to be compliant with the law and ac
cepted international norms.
Equally, NATO should consider how the Law of Armed Conflict (LoAC) would apply to the
use of cognitive technologies in any armed conflict in order to ensure that any future develop-
ment has a framework from which to work within. Full compliance with the rules and princi-
ples of LoAC is essential.

Given the complexity and contextual nature of the potential legal issues raised by Cognitive
technologies and techniques, and the constraints associated with this NATO sponsored study,

further work will be required to analyse this issue fully. Therefore, it is recommended that
such work be conducted by an appropriate body and that NATO Nations collaborate in es
tablishing a set of norms and expectations about the use and development of Cognitive tech
nologies. The immediate focus being how they might be used within extant legal frameworks
and the Law of Armed Conflict.

This area of research – human enhancement and cognitive weapons – is likely to be the subject
of major ethical and legal challenges, but we cannot afford to be on the back foot when inter-
national actors are already developing strategies and capabilities to employ them. There is a
need to consider these challenges as there is not only the possibility that these human en
hancement technologies are deliberately used for malicious purposes, but there may be impli
cations for the ability of military personnel to respect the law of armed conflict.

It is equally important to recognise the potential side effects (such as speech impairment,
memory impairment, increased aggression, depression and suicide) of these technologies. For
example, if any cognitive enhancement technology were to undermine the capacity of a sub
ject to comply with the law of armed conflict, it would be a source of very serious concern.
The development, and use of, cognitive technologies present numerous ethical challenges as
well as ethical benefits, such as recovery from Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Policy
makers should take these challenges seriously as they develop policy about Cognitive Tech
nologies, explore issues in greater depth and determine if other ethical issues may arise as
this, and other related, technology develops.

Recommendations for NATO
The need for cooperation
While the objective of Cognitive Warfare is to harm societies and not only the military, this
type of warfare resembles to shadow wars” and requires a whole-of-government approach
to warfare. As previously stated, the modern concept of war is not about weapons but about
influence. To shape perceptions and control the narrative during this type of war, battle will
have to be fought in the cognitive domain with a whole-of-government approach at the na
tional level. This will require improved coordination between the use of force and the other
levers of power across government. This could mean changes to how defence is resourced,
equipped, and organised in order to offer military options below the threshold of armed con
ict and improve the military contribution to resilience.

For NATO, the development of actions in the cognitive domain also requires a sustained co
operation between Allies in order to ensure an overall coherence, to build credibility and to
allow a concerted defense.

Within the military, expertise on anthropology, ethnography, history, psychology among other
areas will be more than ever required to cooperate with the military, in order to derive quali
tative insights from quantitative data, as an example. In other words, if the declaration of a
new field of combat consecrates the new importance of humans, it is more about rethinking
the interaction between the hard sciences and the social sciences. The rise of cognitive tech
nologies has endowed human with superior analysis and accuracy. In order to deliver timely
and robust decisions, it will not be a question of relying solely on human cognitive capacities
but of cross engineering systems with social sciences (sociology, anthropology, criminology,
political science…) in order to face complex and multifaceted situations. The modelisation of
human dynamics as part of what is known as Computational Social Science will allow the use
of knowledge from social sciences and relating to the behaviour of social entities, whether en
emies or allies. By mapping the human environment, strategists and key military leaders will
be provided reliable information to decide on the right strategy.

Definition of the Human Domain
Thus defined by NATO’s major adversaries, the mastery of the field of perceptions is an ab
stract space where understanding of oneself (strengths and weaknesses), of the other (adver
sary, enemy, human environment), psychological dimension, intelligence collection, search for
ascendancy (influence, taking and conservation of the initiative) and capacity to reduce the
will of the adversary are mixed.

Within the context of multi-domain operations, the human domain is arguably the most im
portant domain, but it is often the most overlooked. Recent wars have shown the inability to
achieve the strategic goals (e.g. in Afghanistan) but also to understand foreign and complex
human environments.

Cognitive warfare was forced upon the Western liberal democracies by challenging in
ternational actors who have strategised to avoid the military confrontation, thus blurring the
line between peace and war by targeting the weakest element: humans. CW which includes
the increasing use of NBICs for military purposes may provide a sure way of military domi
nance in a near future.

“Military power is of course one essential segment of security. But global security refers to a
broad range of threats, risks, policy responses that span political, economic, societal, health

(including cognitive health!) and environmental dimensions, none of these being covered by

your current domains of operations! Some international actors already use weapons that pre

cisely target these dimensions, while keeping their traditional kinetic arsenal in reserve as

long as they possibly can. NATO, if it wishes to survive, has to embrace this continuum and

claim as its responsibility, together with its allies to, seamlessly, achieve superiority all across


Raising awareness among Allies
While advances in technology have always resulted in changes in military organisations and
doctrines, the rapid advancements in technology, in particular in brain science and NBIC,
should force NATO to take action and give a greater consideration to the emergence of the
threats that represents Cognitive Warfare. Not all NATO nations have recognised this
changing character of conflicts. Declaring the Human as sixth domain of operations is a way
to raise awareness among the NATO Nations. NATO should consider further integrating
Human situational awareness in the traditional situation awareness processes of the Alliance.

Anticipating the trends
There is evidence that adversaries have already understood the potential of developing
human-related technologies. Declaring the Human Domain as a sixth domain of operations
has the potential to reveal possible vulnerabilities, which could otherwise amplify rapidly. It
is not too late to face the problem and help keep the dominance in the field of cognition.

The Human Domain of operations could tentatively be defined as “the sphere of interest in
which strategies and operations can be designed and implemented that, by targeting the
cognitive capacities of individuals and/or communities with a set of specific tools and
techniques, in particular digital ones, will influence their perception and tamper with
their reasoning capacities, hence gaining control of their decision making, perception
and behaviour levers in order to achieve desired effects.”

Delays in declaring the Human Domain as a domain of operations may lead to fight the last

Given that the process of declaring a new domain of operations is a lengthy process and given
the sensitivity of the topic, NATO needs to be fast in focusing on political/military responses
while capacity/threats of our opponents are still low.

Finally, ethical problems should be raised. Since there is no agreed international legal
framework in the field of neurosciences, NATO may play a role in pushing to establish an
international legal framework that meets the NATO Nations’ ethical standards.

Accelerating information sharing
Accelerated information sharing among Alliance members may help faster integration of
interoperability, to assure coherence across multi-domain operations. Information sharing
may also assist some nations in catching up in this area. In particular, surveillance of ongoing
international activities in brain science, and their potential dual-use in military and
intelligence operations should be undertaken and shared between Allies along with
identification and quantification of current and near-term risks and threats posed by such

Establishing DOTMLPFI components upstream
The first step is to define the “human domain” in military doctrine and use the definition to
conduct a full spectrum of capability development analysis, optimising the military for the
most likely 21st century contingencies. Since the Human Domain complements the five
others, each capability development should include the specificities of modern threats,
including those related to cognitive warfare and, more generally, the sixth domain of
operations. The Human Domain is not an end in itself but a means to achieve our strategic
objectives and to respond to a type of conflict that the military is not accustomed to dealing

Dedication of resources for developing and sustaining NATO Nations capabilities to prevent
escalation of future risk and threat by:

1) continued surveillance;
2) organisational and systemic preparedness;

3) coherence in any/all entities necessary to remain apace with, and/or ahead of tactical and
strategic competitors and adversarys capabilities in this space.

Impact on Warfare Development

By essence, defining a new domain of operations and all the capabilities and concepts that go
along with it, is part of ACT’s mission

ACT should lead a further in-depth study with a focus on:
Advancements on brain science initiatives that may be developed and used for non-
kinetic and kinetic engagements.

Different ethical systems that govern neuroscientific research and development. This
will mandate a rigorous, more granular, and dialectical approach to negotiate and re
solve issues and domains of ethical dissonance in multi- and international biosecurity

Ongoing review and evaluation of national intellectual property laws, both in relation
to international law(s), and in scrutiny of potential commercial veiling of dual-use en

Identification and quantification of current and near-term risks and threats posed by
such enterprise(s)

Better recognizing the use of social and human sciences in relation with “hard” sci
ences to better understand the human environment (internal and external)

Include the cognitive dimension in every NATO exercises by leveraging new tools and
techniques such as immersive technologies

Along with those studies, anticipating the first response (such as the creation of a new NATO
COE or rethink and adapt the structure by strengthening branches as required) and defining a
common agreed taxonomy (Cognitive Dominance/Superiority/Cognitive Center of Gravity
etc…) will be key tasks for ACT to help NATO keep the military edge.


Failing to thwart the cognitive efforts of
NATO’s opponents would condemn
Western liberal societies to lose the next war
without a fight. If NATO fails to build a
sustainable and proactive basis for progress
in the cognitive domain, it may have no
other option than kinetic conflict. Kinetic
capabilities may dictate a tactical or
operational outcome, but victory in the long
run will remain solely dependent on the
ability to influence, affect, change or impact
the cognitive domain.

Because the factors that affect the cognitive domain can be involved in all aspects of human
society through the areas of will, concept, psychology and thinking among other, so that
particular kind of warfare penetrates into all fields of society. It can be foreseen that the future
information warfare will start from the cognitive domain first, to seize the political and
diplomatic strategic initiative, but it will also end in the cognitive realm.

Preparing for high-intensity warfare remains highly relevant, but international actors
providing NATO with specific strategic security challenges have strategised to avoid
confronting NATO in kinetic conflicts and chose an indirect form of warfare. Information
plays a key role in this indirect form of warfare but the advent of cognitive warfare is
different from simple Information Warfare: it is a war through information, the real target
being the human mind, and beyond the human per se.

Moreover, progresses in NBIC make it possible to extend propaganda and influencing strate
gies. The sophistication of NBIC-fueled hybrid attacks today represent an unprecedented

level of threat inasmuch they target the most vital infrastructure everyone relies on: the hu

man mind

Cognitive warfare may well be the missing element that allows the transition from military
victory on the battlefield to lasting political success. The human domain might well be the de

cisive domain, wherein multi-domain operations achieve the commander’s effect. The five

rst domains can give tactical and operational victories; only the human domain can achieve

the final and full victory. “Recognising the human domain and generating concepts and capa

bilities to gain advantage therein would be a disruptive innovation.”

“Todays progresses in nanotechnology, biotech
nology, information technology and cognitive
science (NBIC), boosted by the seemingly un
stoppable march of a triumphant troika made of
Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and civilisational
digital addiction” have created a much more
ominous prospect: an embedded fifth column,
where everyone, unbeknownst to him or her, is
behaving according to the plans of one of our

August Cole, Hervé Le Guyader

NATO’s 6th Domain

Bibliography and Sources

August Cole, Hervé Le Guyader, NATO 6th Domain of Operations, September 2020

Dr. James Giordano, Emerging Neuroscience and Technology (NeuroS/T): Current and Near-Term
Risks and Threats to NATO Biosecurity , October 2020


Nicolas Israël and Sébastien-Yves Laurent, “Analysis Facing Worldwide Jihadist Violence
and Conflicts. What to do?” September 2020

Online Collaboration with Johns Hopkins University

Cognitive Biotechnology, Altering the Human Experience”, Sep 2020

Cognitive Warfare, an attack on truth and thoughts”, Sep 2020

Under the direction of Professor Lawrence Aronhnime

Contributors: Alonso Bernal, Cameron Carter, Melanie Kemp, Ujwal Arunkumar Taranath,
Klinzman Vaz, Ishpreet Singh, Kathy Cao, Olivia Madreperla


DTEX (Disruptive Technology Experiment) – 7 October 2020

NATO Innovation Hub Disruptive Technology Experiment (DTEX) on disinformation.

Under the direction of Girish Sreevatsan Nandakumar (Old Dominion University)

Hackathon “Hacking the Mind

Run by Dr. Kristina Soukupova and the Czech Republic Defense and Security Innovation
Hub, October 2020.

Annex 1

Nation State Case Study 1: The weaponisation of neurosciences in China
As described in the Five-Year Plans (FYPs) and other national strategies, China has identified
and acknowledged the technical, economic, medical, military, and political value of the brain
sciences, and has initiated efforts to expand its current neuroS/T programs. China utilises
broader strategic planning horizons than other nations and attempts to combine efforts from
government, academic, and commercial sectors (i.e., the triple helix”) to accomplish coopera
tion and centralisation of national agendas. This coordination enables research projects and
objectives to be used for a range of applications and outcomes (e.g., medical, social, military).
As noted by Moo Ming Poo, director of China’s Brain Project, China’s growing aging popula
tion is contributing to an increasing incidence and prevalence of dementia and other neuro
logical diseases. In their most recent FYP, China addressed economic and productivity con
cerns fostered by this aging population, with a call to develop medical approaches for neuro
logical disorders and to expand research infrastructure in neuroS/T.

This growing academic environment has been leveraged to attract and solicit multi-national
collaboration. In this way, China is affecting international neuroS/T through

research tourism;

control of intellectual property;

medical tourism;

and influence in global scientific thought. While these strategies are not exclusive to
neuroS/T; they may be more opportunistic in the brain sciences because the field is
new, expanding rapidly, and its markets are growing, and being defined by both
share- and stake-holder interests.

Research tourism involves strategically recruiting renowned, experienced scientists (mostly
from Western countries), as well as junior scientists to contribute to and promote the growth,
innovation, and prestige of Chinese scientific and technological enterprises. This is apparent
by two primary efforts. First, initiatives such as the Thousand Talents Program (launched in
2008) and other programs (e.g., Hundred Person Program, Spring Light Program, Youth
Thousand Talents Program, etc.) aim to attract foreign researchers, nurture and sustain do
mestic talent, and bring back Chinese scientists who have studied or worked abroad. Further,
China’s ethical research guidelines are, in some domains, somewhat more permissive than
those in the West (e.g., unrestricted human and/or non-human primate experimentation),
and the director of China’s Brain Project, Mu-Ming Poo, has stated that this capability to en
gage research that may not be (ethically) viable elsewhere may (and should) explicitly attract
international scientists to conduct research in China.

Second, China continues to engage with leading international brain research institutions to
foster greater cooperation. These cooperative and collective research efforts enable China to

achieve a more even playing field” in the brain sciences. China leverages intellectual proper
ty (IP) policy and law to advance (and veil) neuroS/T and other biotechnologies in several
ways. First, via exploitation of their patent process by creating a patent thicket”. The Chinese
patent system focuses on the end-utility of a product (e.g., a specific neurological function in a
device), rather than emphasising the initial innovative idea in contrast to the U.S. system. This
enables Chinese companies and/or institutions to copy or outrightly usurp foreign patents
and products. Moreover, Chinese patent laws allow international research products and ideas
to be used in China for the benefit of public health,” or for a major technological advance
ment.” Second, the aforementioned coordination of brain science institutions and the corpo
rate sector establishes compulsory licensing under Chinese IP and patent laws. This strategy
(i.e., lawfare”) allows Chinese academic and corporate enterprises to have economic and le
gal support, while reciprocally enabling China to direct national research agendas and direc
tives through these international neuroS/T collaborations. China enforces its patent and IP
rights worldwide, which can create market saturation of significant and innovative products,
and could create international dependence upon Chinese neuroS/T. Further, Chinese compa
nies have been heavily investing in knowledge industries, including artificial intelligence en
terprises, and academic book and journal partnerships. For example, TenCent established a
partnership with Springer Nature to engage in various educational products. This will allow
a significant stake in future narratives and dissemination of scientific and technological dis

Medical tourism is explicit or implicit attraction and solicitation of international individuals
or groups to seek interventions that are either only available, or more affordable in a particu
lar locale. Certainly, China has a presence in this market, and at present, available procedures
range from the relatively sublime, such as using deep brain stimulation to treat drug addic
tion, to the seemingly science-fictional”, such as the recently proposed body-to-head trans
plant to be conducted at Harbin Medical University in collaboration with Italian neurosur
geon Sergio Canavero. China can advance and develop areas of neuroS/T in ways that other
countries cannot or will not, through homogenising a strong integrated bench to bedside”
capability and use of non-Western ethical guidelines.

China may specifically target treatments for diseases that may have a high global impact,
and/or could offer procedures that are not available in other countries (for either socio-politi
cal or ethical reasons). Such medical tourism could create an international dependence on
Chinese markets as individuals become reliant on products and services available only in
China, in addition to those that are made in China” for ubiquitous use elsewhere. China’s
growing biomedical industry, ongoing striving for innovation, and expanding manufacturing
capabilities have positioned their pharmaceutical and technology companies to prominence
in world markets. Such positioning – and the somewhat permissive ethics that enable particu
lar aspects and types of experimentation – may be seductive to international scientists to en
gage research, and/or commercial biomedical production within China’s sovereign borders.

Through these tactics of economic infiltration and saturation, China can create power hierar
chies that induce strategically latent bio-political” effects that influence real and perceived
positional dominance of global markets.

China is not the only country that has differing ethical codes for governing research. Of note
is that Russia has been, and continues to devote resources to neuroS/T, and while not uni
formly allied with China, has developed projects and programs that enable the use of neuro
data for non-kinetic and/or kinetic applications. Such projects, programs, and operations can
be conducted independently and/or collaboratively to exercise purchase over competitors
and adversaries so as to achieve greater hegemony and power.

Therefore, NATO, and its international allies must
recognise the reality of other countries’ science and technological capabilities;

evaluate what current and near-term trends portend for global positions, influence, and

and decide how to address differing ethical and policy views on innovation, research, and
product development.

Annex 2
Nation State Case Study 2: The Russian National Technology Initiative61

Russian President Vladimir Putin has explicitly stated intent to implement an aggressive
modernisation plan via the National Technology Initiative (NTI). Designed to grant an over
match advantage in both commercial and military domains against Russia’s current and near-
term future key competitors, the NTI has been viewed as somewhat hampered by the nation’s
legacy of government control, unchanging economic complexity, bureaucratic inefficiency
and overall lack of transparency. However, there are apparent disparities between such as
sessment of the NTI and its capabilities, and Russia’s continued invention and successful de
ployment of advanced technologies.

Unlike the overt claims and predictions made by China’s scientific and political communities
about the development and exercise of neuroS/T to re-balance global power, explication and
demonstration(s) of Russian efforts in neuroS/T tend to be subtle, and detailed information
about surveillance and extent of such enterprise and activity is, for the most part, restricted to
the classified domain. In general, Russian endeavours in this space tend to build upon prior
work conducted under the Soviet Union, and while not broad in focus, have gained relative
sophistication and capability in particular areas that have high applicability in non-kinetic
disruptive engagements. Russia’s employments of weaponised information, and neurotropic
agents have remained rather low-key, if not clandestine (and perhaps covert), often entail na
tion-state or non-state actors as proxies, and are veiled by a successful misinformation cam
paign to prevent accurate assessment of their existing and developing science and technolo

Military science and technology efforts of the USSR were advanced and sustained primarily
due to the extensive military-industrial complex which, by the mid-1970s through 1980s, is
estimated to have employed up to twenty percent of the workforce. This enabled the USSR to
become a world leader in science and technology, ranked by the U.S. research community as
second in the world for clandestine S&T programs (only because the overall Soviet system of
research and development (R&D) was exceptionally inefficient, even within the military sec
tor). The collapse of the USSR ended the Soviet military-industrial complex, which resulted in
significant decreases in overall spending and state support for R&D programs. Any newly
implemented reforms of the post-Soviet state were relatively modest, generating suboptimal
R&D results at best. During this time, Russian R&D declined by approximately 60% and aside
from the Ministries’ involvement with the military sector, there was a paucity of direct coop
eration between Russian R&D institutions and operational S&T enterprises. This limited in
teraction, was further compounded by a lack of resources, inability to bring new technology
to markets, absent protections for intellectual property, and brain drain” exodus of talented
researchers to nations with more modern, cutting-edged programs with better pay and op
portunities for advancement.

Recognising the inherent problems with the monoculture of the Russian economic and S&T
ecosystems, the Putin government initiated a process of steering Russia toward more lucra
tive, high-tech enterprises. The NTI is ambitious, with goals to fully realise a series of S&T/
R&D advancements by 2035. The central objective of the NTI is establish the program for
creation of fundamentally new markets and the creation of conditions for global technological
leadership of Russia by 2035.” To this end, NTI Experts and the Agency for Strategic Initia
tives (ASI) identified nine emerging high-tech markets for prime focus and penetrance, in
cluding neuroscience and technology (i.e., what the ASI termed NeuroNet”). Substantive in
vestment in this market is aimed at overcoming the post-Soviet resource curse”, by capitalis
ing on the changes in global technology markets – and engagement sectors – to expand both
economic and military/intelligence priorities and capabilities. According to the ASI, Neuro
Net is focused upon distributed artificial elements of consciousness and mentality”, with
Russia’s prioritisation of neuroS/T being a key factor operative in influence operations direct
ed and global economies and power. Non-kinetic operations represent the most viable inter
section and exercise of these commercial, military, and political priorities, capabilities, and
foci of global influence and effect(s).

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