Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Exciting new technology

The United States is developing a non lethal weapon, designed to inflict pain and incapacitate without causing permanent damage (see here and here; I first saw this mentioned here). This would be an incredible breakthrough, enabling the US Army to intervene in crises, possibly even in combat, without causing casualties. The sooner it is available for use the better.
One would think that such a development would be hailed by all those pacifists who supposedly care so much for the preservation of human life. Instead we have eminent scientists coming up with these nuggets of wisdom:

Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, said: "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown."

Isn't this guy incredible? Maybe he should analyze "the long-term physical and psychological effects" of death, amputation, paralyzation or bullet wounds!
We also get this extremely useful comment:
According to John Wood of University College London, an expert in how the brain perceives pain, both Richardson and Cooper and all those working on the PEP research project should face censure because any weapon resulting from the programme "could be used for torture."
You must be kidding me! Almost any sharp object can be used to kill someone, let alone torture them! If you are worried about torture you should focus on what actions are permitted by law not on limiting scientific and technological advances that have the potential of saving millions of human lives.
I would also note that this seems to me (though I have no technical knowledge in the matter) to be the ideal weapon against insurgents and terrorists in guerrilla warfare situations, as one of their strategic advantages with respect to armies is that they are difficult to identify and try to dissimulate themselves among (usually) innocent civilians.

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