Small Wars Journal

Letter from the Frontline: Year 2050 Short Story

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 5:59pm

Letter from the Frontline: Year 2050 Short Story

Lydia Kostopoulos

The following is presented as part of the TRADOC G2's "Soldier 2050" Call for Ideas. This material will form a compendium of thoughts and ideas that will support the exploration of future bio-convergence implications on the Army of 2050 at the Mad Scientist Conference 8-9 March 2018 at SRI International. The conference can be livestreamed at


Norak is a rogue nation and its leader has for many years threatened to use nuclear weapons and has been building Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability. The rogue nation’s political leadership does not respond to sanctions or threats waged by the international community.

Intelligence operatives successfully stalled Norak from receiving the vital AI hardware they needed but intelligence sources have reported with high confidence to the President that Norak has acquired military grade AI technology and will soon connect it to its robot army which includes a naval fleet of unmanned nuclear submarines with the latest stealth torpedoes, and sea to air missile technology, an army of hybrid motorcycle robots equipped with electromagnetic weapons capable of permanently frying electric grids, and an air force of drones loaded with neurological weapons that when operated as a flock can blanket cover a mega city causing its inhabitants to have seizures. The missing piece is connecting the software and setting it up to connect land, air, sea to the AI.

Just as with the nuclear industry, the military AI software experts who can connect the warfighting domains are few and far between and have been targeted all over the world. In this case, the nuclear weapons are the next generation electromagnetic nuclear weapons capable of destroying electronics (circuit boards) through non-kinetic means. A leading Swiss military AI scientist (and his family) have been kidnapped while on holiday in Thailand and they are now behind enemy lines kept somewhere in the vicinity of Black Mountain.

There are concurrent missions to address this situation; the below story is told by one of the members of the (mixed gender) special operations unit (Unit 41) who has been tasked on a top secret mission to destroy the central artificial intelligence brain of Norak’s military lab deep inside Black Mountain before the Swiss scientist is forced to make it operational.

Norak’s military is ready for this, and although they have had years of sanctions and have not been able to buy the latest military technology or develop it themselves through heavy regulation, they have been able to purchase a significant amount on the black market and are capable of creatively waging a dirty make-shift offense and defense that can challenge even the most technologically-advanced nations.

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Hi Mom and Dad,

Because of the sensitivity of this message, I am sending you this private brain mail using deep memory encryption through Brain Computer Interface (BCI), instead of just calling you through the simple BCI channel. I would have loved to call you, especially since it would be our last conversation, but I have to finish this mission and I cannot be interrupted. I made sure to encrypt this BCI message with our deepest memories because I want to tell you everything before I go.

I have been working for the military as you know, but not as a military strategist as you thought, although strategy is a part of my job. Instead, I am part of a secret special forces unit called Unit 41, well there are two of us, one is connected to IBM Watson and is AI enabled (called Unit 41-AI), and the other, which I am a part of, has the regular BCI BioNET, but is enabled in other ways. The reason is because the AI-enabled unit, while necessary for competitive advantage with peer and near peer adversaries, is too dangerous when its connected to the brain and a backup one is necessary for mission assurance as it can operate swiftly in all tech environments, including no tech. When I say no tech, I don’t mean the body enhancements, that is part of our genome enhancement, I mean the neurological-tech connection when I say tech. Don’t worry mom, I’m not in the 41-AI unit where the soldiers brains are on 24/7 link to the risky AI BCI. I am in the other one, the “lesser” tech unit, (we just go by the number of our unit 41). 41 also happens to be the one that takes over when the 41-AI unit has technical glitches, which is often, as it is hard to preserve the integrity of machine learning environments and protect it from manipulation. Even when it is authentic, AI has a way of doing things that are still not understood by humans. In one case we had to shut down a portion of our AI support capability because it invented its own language and was communicating to other machines with it. That brings me to this message. The mission I am on was too important to take any technological risks and they have sent my unit. My unit is called 41 after the year in which the German Enigma machine was cracked. The reason my unit is called 41 is because the technology we use, and that is a part of us, is the very latest, and like the year the enigma machine was broken, no one was told about the breakthrough. The latest technology we use isn’t public yet, not even our closest allies know, not even most of our own military, that is what gives us our competitive advantage, the fact our capabilities are secret. I can’t tell you about all of them, but I’ll tell you about some as I describe this mission.

As always, anytime something important happens I’m on my period, but the great thing is my uterus has been enhanced with a menstrual genome enhancement. The DNA editor CRISPR was used to read through my DNA code and find the sequence that determines how my body reacts to menstruation. This edit has optimized my blood flow and has given my muscles a 200% strength boost, so not only am I not feeling fatigued muscles, which slows me down, but I’m 200% stronger than any regular day and have significantly more stamina. And I’m quite strong on regular days, this enhancement also leverages the fact that women’s tolerance for pain is higher than for men due to our childbearing capacity. This uterus enhancement has also triggered the pain tolerance capacity and it is 50 times stronger during menstrual contractions.

Our Genome Commander has already altered all my muscles so I am as strong as the Navy SEALS you see on TV, and I can run as fast as a cheetah. Who would have thought, as the DNA I was born with said I was never going to be a runner. My eyesight was also enhanced, while I had 20/20, now I have night vision, thermal vision, can see the electromagnetic spectrum which is critical in today’s hyper tech enabled world. I can’t see through buildings, but I hear the Genome Commander has made it a top priority.

We use quantum technology combined with AI to continuously search for new DNA enhancements for each one of our unique DNA strands. And then we get notified when we have updates and go and get our shot. It’s just like a flu shot, no biggie. It doesn’t hurt and after a good night’s rest you wake up and the update is complete. Easy peasy! I know these things seem scary or new to you, and while they are to a certain degree experimental, we have come a long way. Look at all the designer babies that are out there that are getting their DNA edited to take out mutations for Alzheimer’s, reducing probability for cancers, or superficial changes like determining the color of their hair and eyes. The kind of modifications we do are classified, but I want you to feel proud that your daughter is in the only unit in the nation that has highly classified women genome enhancements. It’s what makes us a secret weapon as our adversaries create their offensive bio weapons with the male anatomy in mind. Of course, women are also susceptible, but the uterus enhancement makes us a particularly secret weapon in the menstruation window. And it’s a good thing, because I am now the last one standing…..

Let me start from the beginning. Unit 41 was deployed to destroy a secret military AI lab in Norak’s Black Mountain. Remember what you saw on the news about that Swiss scientist that was kidnapped in Thailand? Well, they have his family hostage as well and they are going to force him to connect their entire robotic army to a central military grade artificial intelligence brain. This has never been done before, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously voted to ban this type of military integration back in 2028, as it has the capacity to pose an existential risk to our entire species.

Only half of us were sent. Each one of us has Unit 41 specific upgrades, but also our own unique upgrades, tailored to us based on our genome capacities. Should our bodies end up in enemy territory it becomes a counterintelligence problem as they may learn from our altered DNA and the tech embedded in our bodies. Luckily our unique genome changes will not be revealed as the adversary would need to have our original DNA code to match it up with the current altered one. But some of our unit specific upgrades includes changes to the core of our species’ DNA strand. They could potentially be identified if they had enough of us, despite the discrete way in which it was done, we are in a technical sense already a different version of homo sapiens, even though the changes are not profound enough to be visually evident. Only five of us have been sent and I am the only woman, as it is too risky to lose two women at a time on such a sensitive mission. It’s risky because they’ll be able to compare our DNA strands and have a higher chance to find our enhancements. We do have measures to reduce exposure should we be captured (dead or alive), we use a technique called mutation masking, where we hide the changes we have made in seemingly normal mutation stands. We haven’t even shared our women’s military genome enhancements with our closest allies. Much like what happened in 1941 at Bletchley Park, when Turing cracked the code and it wasn’t shared with the entire British government; same with this.

We arrived to Black Mountain a few hours ago, two team members and myself crossed the land border between Tufr and Norak at 0300 finding ourselves at the base of Black Mountain. We already knew this was a forest filled mountain so we came prepared with our portable advance drones which are the size of golf balls and when activated fly up and around the vicinity to scan the thermal and electromagnetic perimeter so we know what is ahead. Because they look like golf balls, we call them flying golf balls and we say we are tee-ing up when we send them out. We are not alone though as the information is sent back to our brain through the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) network we have with our devices. The Advance Perimeter Check (APC) can even see through adversary stealth clothes and gear that makes them go under the radar. We managed to use classic social engineering techniques to access the blueprints for their stealth gear so we went in confident. No matter how much technology there is, social engineering will always be a powerful tool as people continue to be the weakest link. The perimeter check came out empty, and we sent the flying golf balls all the way up and around Black Mountain. We sent the perimeter check results back to C2 through our encrypted secure BCI communication, its part of the BioNET. Still hard to believe that people in the not too distant past had to use their voice to tell others what they thought. On a mission, the reduced speed of spoken voice communication compared with brain-to-brain thought communication which is at the speed of light could mean life or death.

At Command and Control (C2), they took the data from our flying golf ball drones and reproduced it into an augmented reality hologram pop up of the terrain with markers of the electromagnetic and thermal terrain. With this information, C2 gave the green light to send the last two of my colleagues on this mission on the other side of the mountain. They dropped them by air with a stealth plane that had technology that was only talked about in fairy tales and Harry Potter — the invisibility cloak. It is some sort of physicist eye trick and the bending of light which I still don’t understand, but it’s real and it works.

Luckily this time it is just five of us, last time we were on an operation with other units from different countries. The feed from the perimeter check that C2 read was wrong and identified friendly forces as enemy forces, this was the result of a classic network penetration and data manipulation hack. This is one of the reasons Unit 41 exists, because technology can’t always be trusted. Luckily, we already spoke with the friendly forces prior to the operation and had conducted enough synthetic training and we knew exactly where their position was going to be, and as such prevented a lethal friendly fire incident. The quality of our synthetic training is how we consistently out maneuver our adversaries, and how we are so prepared. The generations of special operations soldiers before me have already been training in synthetic environments that include electromagnetic weapons, urban assaults, and even hypersonic weapons. By the time we got in, there were so many lessons learned that we built from, combined with today’s genetic and implant technology we truly are a force to be reckoned with.

On foot, my two colleagues and I made it a quarter of the way up the mountain through the dense trees and under the dark sky. Our night vision enhancement made all the difference as we were able to see through the trees. We were getting closer to the middle of the mountain which is where the entrance of the lab was. Our intelligence sources and aerial reconnaissance drones confirmed the lab is tucked into the belly of the mountain, and that there were three levels underground where the main lab is, which is where I am now sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the AI main frame, as you are fast asleep. But I’m getting ahead of myself….

We continued under the dark blanket of the night sky, as we were making our way through the dense trees, the humidity started to feel thicker and heavier, like it was wrapped all around us weighing us down, which is strange as the higher up a mountain the less the humidity. At first it didn’t register, it was more of an obstacle that we were capable of overcoming, we have trained in humid temperatures before. The ground seemed to get wetter as we went up, as if it rained higher up but not at the base, and then my magnetic sensors picked up some metal tubes on the ground. As I was ahead of my other two teammates I instantly was able to relay the message through our mission brain network. They froze and registered it as well. Together we concluded within seconds what it was. We initially thought it could have been related to mines, but we were relieved when we realized they were irrigation tubes, with little holes which explained why the ground was wet. But then a chill went down my spine, which because of our brain network my colleagues were able to feel. Brain to brain communication happens so fast and in 41, when we are on a mission 90% of our internal self-talk communication is shared, it’s the only way to share ideas fast and respond with as little lag time and deliberation as possible. We process thoughts in milliseconds, so brain to brain communication with 90% open self-talk communication can mean life or death. We all knew something was wrong. Black mountain does not need irrigation, it is a mountain with trees and an uphill slope suitable for the amateur hiker, the rain falls evenly and is spread across the mountain with streams, there was no need for irrigation tubes. We cautiously continued, when all of a sudden, we started to notice mosquitoes buzzing by us.

We were wearing bulletproof, radiation proof, and RFID blocking, special operations gear, but our faces were exposed and so were our hands, as we had taken off our gloves to sense the metal tubbing better using our implanted magnetic chips in our hands. The mosquitoes started to bite us so we just put our gloves back on. We continued on and made it further up and it was less humid and we found a space between the dense trees to regroup and wait to hear from the other two colleagues who parachuted in on the other side of the mountain and were at the same level as us. We tried to connect through our brain to brain interface with them but couldn’t get through, so I climbed up a tree and tried to see if I could see them coming down. We have a special reflector on our chest only used in Unit 41 that only can be seen through our genetically modified eyes. Sure enough, I saw them 5 miles out coming in.

Something was off about the way they were coming down. We are known for swift and graceful drops, but they were sloppy, almost having seizures in mid-air. I immediately knew something was wrong. I tried to contact them with brain-to-brain (BrainNET) and was able to feel their sensations of pain and suffocation. My two colleagues sitting at the bottom of the tree I climbed also got the message. We pulled up their stitch stats. Stitch stats are the statistics and data derived from smart clothing that we use. Their stitch stats said that they didn’t have enough oxygen, their heart rate was abnormally high, and that their lung capacity had reduced significantly. As I sit here on the floor in the Norak AI brain lab and recall it I am still shaken by the image of their bodies violently shaking in mid-air and then disappearing into the trees.

We all knew something was wrong and I immediately climbed down the tree. I found my colleagues in pain and almost in fetal position but sitting. Through the BrainNET I knew they had a sharp neurological pain that was pulling them down from inside. I looked at them as they just looked up with their teeth clenched and through brain to brain they told me it is as if someone had kicked them in the groin, but from the inside. As if they were experiencing the pain after a hammer had smashed their prostate. It was crippling pain, that went straight through their entire neurological system and took away their super powers. It was their kryptonite. In that second, we got the last BrainNET connection with our two colleagues on the other side of the mountain, we were able to feel their pain of broken bones, difficulty breathing through crushed lungs, and then their last breaths a few miles away. We went from five, to three and we haven’t even breached the lab yet, something was wrong and nothing was a coincidence.

Norak was prepared for us, but not in a sophisticated technological way, but in a dirty and low-tech way. It was effective and we weren’t expecting it. The same planes that are used to seed clouds for rain, were used before my colleagues parachuted in. Instead of spraying the substance used to seed clouds, they went to the drop altitude and used the same tool to spray white phosphorous. Their skin didn’t burn because they were wearing our protective gear but their lungs were exposed. I don’t want to say more, they died a very brave death. The fact of the matter is that we are fighting against adversaries who don’t play by the same rules, but now is not the time to start my rant about warfighting ethics.

We didn’t have time to deal with the death of our two colleagues on the other side of the mountain as we had to see how we could overcome crippling prostate pain that brought my two colleagues down to their knees. Pain is nothing but a message, communicated through neurons, so we needed to re-route that message and send it to a dead end. Using the electronic tattoo interface in their arm they tried to manipulate the nerve communications. As they did that I pieced the strange incidence together. The anomaly was that I, too, was bitten by the mosquitos, but did not feel any discomfort.

The irrigation tubes were a booby trap, to keep the humidity levels high closer to the entrance, so that the genetically modified mosquitoes would thrive and create a layer of defense. The mosquitoes seem to have been genetically modified to target the male prostate and trigger numbing pain that sends shockwaves through the neurological system paralyzing the male victim with pain.

Synthetic DNA codes are for sale all over the dark web, they could have bought it and bred their own mosquitoes. Mosquito DNA altering and breeding was done many decades ago back in the Zika virus days in 2016, so today this is nothing but a download of the synthetic DNA, put it in to the CRISPR program and any simple biologist can put the rest together. Such simple technology cripples such an advanced human. In advanced nations we have allowed ourselves to be uncontrollably seduced by technology, you can blame it on the egos of Silicon Valley start-ups back in the early 2000s, society’s subsequent love affair with tech all around, inside and outside of them, governments being too busy dealing with the next information warfare attacking their legitimacy, or maybe a vast majority of the world choosing to look the other way instead of listen to the few who tried to alert the world to the potential consequences.

Whatever the case, we prepare for the most advanced a nation state can do, but we forget nation states can also employ street tactics.

My teammates managed to reroute the pain and get back on their feet although the ordeal had reduced their battery level. We are so enhanced and updated and have technology embedded in us that we see ourselves as human machines sometimes so we say our battery is low, but basically our calorie consumption has increased, reducing remaining capacity. We slowly approached the hidden door of the lab and before reaching the entrance we communicated with our command and control for the last time, we disconnected from the BioNET. It was too dangerous to stay connected with Unit 41’s HQ, as we could risk a potential attribution, although it would be very hard to prove technically, they could arguably point the finger at us with enough coincidences. Since the beginning of my training days we were taught to operate on intent, and expect communications devices to fail us.

Our intelligence sources told us the lab door had biometric authentication and thanks to the great work of our covert operatives who hacked in the system and got all the biometrics we needed, and the bio hack unit at our special operations command we were ready with altered fingerprints, contact lenses and voice alteration for all the biometric authentication necessary. The light on the door flashed green and the vacuum sealed door opened. The next authentication was the hallway camera which would match up the face biometric to the Norak officer we impersonated. My teammate already had the 3D printed mask of the officer on his face, and my other teammate and I put our invisibility cloaks on. 3D printing has come a long way especially for those who have the best cartridge materials. We could fool the camera but the mask wouldn’t be enough if we ran into someone who knew the officer we impersonated. We had ear implants that could simultaneously translate any language, but we still didn’t have the capacity to automatically speak foreign languages that weren’t learned the natural way. Besides, it might not have done us any good as they may very well be speaking through their own BrainNET, as its too risky to speak. We accessed the blue print of the floor plan to navigate and in unison two of us under the invisibility cloak followed our colleague with the 3D printed face mask, without a word exchanged as we communicated with our BrainNET. We used a very special connection via the Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) memory network. Remember when I told you that I went on vacation to Aspen with my teammates? Well that was part of the training to layout the NLP memory network for secure communication on the BrainNET. For example, for you to access this message I have prompted your memory to fill in the blanks on very unique memories we shared that no one else would know. We went to Aspen to create those kinds of unique Unit 41 training memories. The training is actually very fun, it includes playing games, going hiking around the mountains and spending time bonding; and of course, synthetic training in Virtual Reality (VR). Basically, it is about creating new and organic memories. The cabin we stayed at is in a top-secret location and was designed in a particular way for us to mentally regroup there to recall information. It is where we go back to when we prepare for missions. Each room, and wall has something to do with the mission. One way to explain it is, it is like organizing all your papers and maps and relevant information, but it is organized in the same way for everyone and we all learn it together and prepare for the operation together in those specialized rooms. What it does is the information and images and experiences are all stored in our brains the way that we experienced it which can vary from person to person, but it also provides us with human memory back-up copies. So when we are in an operation we all go back to that cabin together and go over everything and no piece of information is missed. Remember that electronic tattoo you saw behind my neck? Well that is an additional layer of security as it authenticates my Unit 41 colleagues when we connect to the NLP memory network. That tattoo is a sensor that knows the particular beat of my heart, a non replicatable authentication method. Luckily the Norak’s didn’t have access to this state of the art technology.

We followed my teammate with the mask of the Norak officer down the dimly lit stairs to the second floor underground. He unlocked the door which led us into a white corridor with glass on both sides looking into the endless stacks of black quantum computer drives flashing with their blue lights in unison. We followed closely behind him with our invisibility cloaks. We got to the end of the corridor which opened into a command and control center with a big window looking down into the core of the brain on the third underground floor. It was 0426 and not a soul in sight, and that is when two Norak security guards game with their coffee into the C2 room from the 3rd floor. My teammate who was under the invisibility cloak raced towards the door before it closed and tried to slip in. There was no way my colleague with the mask was going to pass for the Norak officer we impersonated, and while we were wearing invisibility cloaks we still made noise, it was time for lethal action. One of the guards pushed a button on his wristband as my colleague with the impersonated mask raised his fist towards the security guards and using his thumbs pushed the button under the bottom of the rings he was wearing on his middle fingers. A neurological agent shot out at them in the face and they collapsed to the floor shaking, choking as they gasped for air. Within twenty seconds their hearts stopped and the guards were neutralized.

However, the button the security guard pushed alerted others and within seconds five Norak security guards came storming. By that point my teammate under the invisibility cloak made it safely with me into the 3rd level unnoticed. The door locked behind us, we knew the chances of us getting out through that door again alive were slim to none, but we didn’t spend any time thinking about it. We made it to the 3rd floor underground lab. We stayed still in the lit-up room and were able to see the lab’s C2 room through the window above us, which is where our teammate with the mask was. We saw him pull out his gun, it had regular bullets, on a mission like this hand held rail guns are a no-no, that is the latest of the latest technology, we haven’t even gotten approval to use them in operations for fear that word will get around that it exists. Hand held rail gun or regular gun, he is still made of blood, tissue and bones, even if it is of altered DNA, and he has some implants; he wasn’t going to win over five armed Norak security guards in this confined space, he did it to force the security guards to use lethal force against him so that he could disconnect from the BCI and so that his body could die before they used the BCI reader. While we feel very confident the Norak BCI reader couldn’t retrieve sensitive information from our network, we still don’t fully understand how vulnerable the BCI connection is at the verge of death. We are still human and while there are many ways to extend life and enhance our capacities, when you destroy the body there is no coming back. We saw his body receive countless blows from the bullets of the Norak machine guns. We immediately shut him out of all our brain connections, each one of us shares admin authority over the others. They used the latest bullet technology that penetrated our gear, and we knew they had it as intelligence told us our greatest enemies regularly sold them those bullets. He followed protocol and signed out of our NLP memory network and the BrainNET with an account self-destruct option. It was the only thing he could do, and luckily because everything is controlled by our speed of light brain, he was able to do it before the bullets killed him. The reason I say luckily is because sure enough, we saw them rush to his body to use the BCI reader.

My teammate and I had our backs pressed against the wall with our invisibility cloaks on us and we went to NLP memory network, back to the Aspen cabin, quickly rushed to the kitchen where the information about the Norak AI brain was in the fridge, we went over the blue prints of the 3rd underground floor lab and instructions on how to permanently fry the Norak AI brain and make it forever inoperative, then without even telling each other went out the back porch and met in the shed, both of us disconnected from the NLP memory network and initiated the account self-destructed for the NLP memory network. This meant we would never have access to it again. We were the only two left of the five from Unit 41 that were sent. We had to protect the rest of our unit. We then went to the BrainNET and started to work.

My teammate was working on breaking into the AI network and starting phase one of the destruction which was to tell the AI to delete software on devices as far as it could reach, and leave carry on commands on every network it could reach. Someone on the 2nd floor seemed to be registering these changes on the Command and Control computers and since we locked the Norad guards out of their AI network they couldn’t stop it. I immediately went to the door and used the electronic sleeve to hack into the door and lock the guards out. I hacked the door just in time before they arrived, they banged the door and tried to shoot through but they should have known better as the doors were made of nuclear submarine grade metals. It then went quiet, they left and a click sound went off on the side of the room where my teammate was hacking the AI computer. It seemed as if some sort of clear gas was coming in. My colleague didn’t make note of the click because he was too absorbed working on destroying the AI network. I used the BrainNET to alert him but he had already signed off it and closed any incoming messages. I immediately shut mine down and shouted to him, I couldn’t tell where he was exactly as he had the invisibility cloak on. I went towards the computer where he was at and saw the screen, he was half-way through but didn’t finish, I put my arm out to touch his body but couldn’t find him, I stepped closer to the screen and then I felt my foot bump into something. It was him. As all our BCI networks were disconnected I had no idea what happened. I smelled something odd, it was almost like a hospital sterile clean scent. 
 I didn’t have time to think much of it and picked up with the hacking where my teammate had left off. I typed in the codes and completed the AI ripple instructions for auto destruct to replicate throughout the Norak military network. The next step was to infect the mainframe with the virus created by the AI Offensive team back in HQ. As I reached to my wrist bands for the USBs I started to feel my body being attacked from the inside. From my toes to, the arteries in my heart, to my nipples and the tips of my fingers. The pain was spreading. I started to shake a bit from the pain as I took out the two thin USB pieces from my wrist band and inserted them into the mainframe.

The Noraks play very dirty. Nowhere in international law would nano bot weapons be allowed. I read about them, we were told that it was a civilian technology that could have dual-use in the military. The nano technology used was the same technology used at hospitals for our checkups. The one we would get put in intravenously through IV. But this one was airborne. The thing with nano, is that it is microscopic, and just like cocaine addicts snort cocaine powder through their nose and it goes into their lungs and through their lungs into their blood stream, the weaponized nano bots did the same thing to me.

My arteries feel like they are hardening, I feel I’m losing consciousness and I can barely muster the energy to breathe as everything hurts. I’m going to have to sign out of BrainNET before the nano bots completely clog my arteries, I just hope this isn’t the kind of nano bot that has surgical capabilities. I’m sitting down leaning on the wall looking at the screens and the mainframe execute our commands. We did it…. No nation should have absolute AI power; it puts our species at an uncontrollable existential risk.

Everything I told you is classified, and I’ve locked it in your memory, you won’t be able to share it with anyone, except between you two as you have the same encrypted memory tunnel for this brain message. I’m sorry you can’t share it, but I’m glad technology has advanced enough for me to be able to tell you this. I now have 5% caloric energy left….

Remember how I told you there is no way to come back once our bodies die? Well there is an option. I have already uploaded my brain to a soldier’s reserve system. It uses whole brain emulation which means that it is a software copy of my brain and my memories and my neurological connections. It’s in my will for you to receive it. You won’t hear from anyone from Unit 41 as it is a secret unit, but you will hear from the Special Operations Command, which I belong to. Once you receive my brain copy, you can activate it with a range of devices and speak with me and a non-sentient version of me, with my voice, will respond. It won’t be sentient but a replica-database-like-version of me blended with AI to best gauge what my responses would be. Since this is still very new technology the military requires that family members who choose to receive it undergo training, and see a therapist for the first six months for adjusting. I won’t be upset if you don’t choose to receive it. This technology challenges mortality as we know it and it can be difficult to process it. As part of 41, my emulation will be stored and used for training, analysis and records; I will continue to serve my country in death and no soldier could ask for more. I have to sign off 2% left…

I love you.

About the Author(s)

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos’ (@LKCYBER) work lies in the intersection of people, strategy, technology, education, and national security. She addressed the United Nations member states on the military effects panel at the Convention of Certain Weapons Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Her professional experience spans three continents, several countries and multi-cultural environments. She speaks and writes on disruptive technology convergence, innovation, tech ethics, and national security. She lectures at the National Defense University, Joint Special Operations University, is a member of the IEEE-USA AI Policy Committee, participates in NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Program, is a member of the FBI’s InfraGard Alliance, and during the Obama administration has received the U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her pro bono work in cybersecurity. In efforts to raise awareness on AI and ethics she is working on a reflectional art series.