Now imagine a future battlefield teeming with amphetamine-fueled pilots, a cyborg infantry and commanders whose brains have been shocked into achieving otherwise impossible levels of tactical cunning.

These enhancements and others have tremendous combat potential, the researchers state. “Somewhere in between robotics and biomedical research, we might arrive at the perfect future warfighter: one that is part machine and part human, striking a formidable balance between technology and our frailties.”

In this possible mutant future, what enhancements should be regulated by international law, or banned outright? If an implant malfunctions or a drug causes unexpected side effects, who’s responsible? And if one side deploys a terrifying cyborg army, could that spark a devastating arms race as nations scramble to out-enhance each other? “Does the possibility that military enhancements will simply lead to a continuing arms race mean that it is unethical to even begin to research or employ them?” Lin, Mehlman and Abney wonder.

The report authors also question whether the military shouldn’t get give potential enhancement subjects the right to opt out, even though the subjects are otherwise subject to military training, rules and discipline.