The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or simply DARPA, is an agency of the US Department of Defense responsible for the development of sophisticated and futuristic technologies for use by the military. Since 1958 when the agency was established, certain sci-fi scenarios were brought into our reality.
Besides the usual development of highly-advanced military gear, DARPA also focuses on interstellar travel, lightweight powerful satellites, the bioengineering of new life forms, and even enlisting preteens to test advanced military software. With all these in the course of making, we can picture an extremely bright future for humanity. However, there is no certainty these futuristic technologies will be available to anyone except for the military.
To better understand the concepts developed by DARPA, we’ll have a look at one of its newest projects – implantable chips capable of healing soldier’s bodies and minds. The purpose of this program, dubbed ElectRX, is the development of minuscule chips that can be inserted into a soldier’s body in order to enhance the nervous system. According to researchers, this chip will target with precision certain nerve endings with minute electromagnetic, procedure that’s going to heal painful and chronic inflammatory diseases and mental illnesses. The agency already received a 78 million dollars funding for the development of the chip.
Instead of relying only on medication, we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker, said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager. It would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems.
The second priority of ElectRX, other than treating physical ailments, is the healing of mental illnesses like PTSD using the same electrical impulse principle to adjust abnormal stimuli caused by this disorder. Although such devices exist and are already being used in clinical settings, they are about the size of a deck of cards, and pose several problems because of their considerable size, but also because the underdeveloped precision can lead to side effects. However, DARPA intends to change this in the near future, by making the devices minuscule.
The military has made a step forward towards hyper-personalized medicine and healthcare lately. They want to bring the future closer by developing methods for bioprinting skin based on a soldier’s needs at that time, but also 3D-printed food containing a mix of vitamins according to the specific needs of an individual. Although ElectRX implants will have to wait a few more years since the technology is still under development, we can’t help but think at all the amazing things the future has to offer us.
Besides the idea of hi-tech soldiers capable of healing wounds and chronic diseases, there is a huge potential when it comes to ordinary people that could, at some point in time, benefit from all these innovative techniques and start to live longer if not forever. Will humanity manage to fight back against diseases and eventually death itself, or will these advanced remedies be used exclusively by the elites? Whatever the case, we only have to survive in order to find out.