2
$\begingroup$

Well, in my story both combat robots and super soldiers coexist alongside the actual armies, now the enhancements that super soldiers undergo can be divided into three main groups: surgical, biological and genetic. The improvements are applied in 3 rounds spaced in time and with a lost of training, the list of improvements in order of application is as follows:

Stage 1.

  1. Standard physical training (similar to the training of a Marine) this stage aims to make the applicant's body support as well as possible what follows.
  2. Genetic modification: production of active telomerase, the gene encoding telomerase is modified by replacing its primer with a permanently expressed one (i.e. the body is forced to produce active telomerase continuously) this prevents cellular senescence, redundant p53, p21, rad51 genes, rad52 and recA redundant (backup copies of these genes are placed at multiple points to avoid mutations that would result in cancer), continuous expression of rad51, rad52 and recA, continuous production of antioxidants (i.e. at a much higher rate and scale than normal), increased production of igf 1. Modification of the FST gene causing the striated muscle to produce follistatin in large quantities, but protecting the myocardium (in theory this would prevent cardiac hypertrophy, but still this is the main cause of death of aspirants).
  3. Surgical: Human growth hormone catalytic implant. A platinum implant is placed in the pituitary gland that produces a high level of human growth hormone, although the treatment is intense it only lasts 6 months during which the level of growth hormone is more than 40 times normal for a human.
  4. Intense physical training, mainly lifting and throwing weights, series of a thousand squats/lunge/flexes, running 10km in less than 10 min carrying 120kg, this training is given for 4 months and starts 2 days after the catalyst implant.
  5. Bone lengthening, this is simple, only the long bones of the applicant are broken, 5 cm are separated and bone patches are placed. This process is repeated until a minimum height of 2.57 meters is reached and takes advantage of the effects of human growth hormone to shorten regeneration times.

Stage 2.

  1. Surgical: Implantation of artificial crystalline lens. Basically the natural lenses of the eyes are replaced by lenses containing rare earths, these lenses are more efficient than those of human eyes and thanks to the rare earths it changes frequencies invisible to the human eye to visible and also increases the energy of faint sources thanks to this the aspirants acquire 200/20 vision and night vision like that of a cat.
  2. Biological: Second heart implantation. A DNA sample is taken from the applicant and used to create a "clone" as a source of highly modified organs, the second heart is a heart 4 times larger than a normal human heart but unlike a hypertrophic heart the second heart does not have excessively thickened walls so the internal volume is much larger than that of a normal human heart, the second heart is necessary for the normal functioning of the super soldier given its high oxygen consumption also the super soldier can survive in battle to the loss of one of his two hearts. Implantation of the third lung, a third lung is connected to the respiratory and circulatory system, this third lung is similar to the lung of a condor being extremely effective breathing in low oxygen environments (such as the Everest chasm) this lung allows to increase oxygen uptake to compensate the oxygen demand of the super soldier and allows him to survive the loss of 2 lungs and minimizes the effects of pneumothorax and hemothorax allowing a high survival. Implantation of the third kidney, a kidney highly improved in its capacity and speed of filtration and with the capacity to eliminate toxins that normally cannot be eliminated.
  3. Recovery of 3 months
  4. Implantation of the second liver, a highly efficient liver capable of employing non-human enzymes and metabolic pathways as a result the ability to eliminate toxins and substances is greatly increased (an effect of this and an earlier genetic enhancement is that the super soldier cannot get drunk and drugs have no effect on them, including anesthetics, if the applicant cannot be sedated from this point so instead of anesthetics steel shackles are used to restrain the applicant on the operating table).

Stage 3.

  1. Surgical: Neuronal stimulator implant, this consists in the implantation of a mesh of electrodes in the frontal, temporal and motor lobes that electively stimulate the neurons increasing the speed of propagation of electrochemical impulses, as a result the speed of thought and reaction increase enormously and also increase the speed of learning and improve memory even more. Pain inhibitor implant, this implant blocks part of the limbic system by means of a controlled electrical stimulus, the result is that, although you can still feel pain it is not unpleasant, basically the pain is no longer painful, this improvement can be activated or deactivated at the will of the wearer. Empathic blocker implant, blocks part of the limbic system eliminating emotional rations such as fear, empathy or remorse basically turns the carrier into a highly functional psychopath who does not feel anything when killing, this implant can be activated or deactivated at the will of the carrier (the field guide recommends not to deactivate the inhibition before a week after a battle to avoid traumatic stress disorder).
  2. Recovery time 3 weeks.
  3. Biological: Implantation of the bio-cudendum , an artificial organ, basically an artificial uterus intended to create stem cell "clone" of the aspirant, this organ is basically the size of a full bladder and when prepared contains a solution of stem cells in plasma being a very viscous pinkish-white liquid, in response to a sufficiently severe wound the biocudendum releases its contents rapidly regenerating tissue and healing life-threatening wounds, another use of this fluid is to regenerate lost limbs or damaged organs (obviously this is not instantaneous, it takes several months to regenerate a limb). Implantation of the demigod maker, a modified version of the pituitary gland that produces hormones and substances to maintain the optimal state of enhancements (it is a fairly simple enhancement of the endocrine system to maintain optimal augmentations).
  4. Recovery time 3 weeks.
  5. Surgical: Implantation of a boron carbide coating on the bones, a 3d impression is made of pieces to place on each major bone of the applicant, these stiffs have micro and macro porosities to allow the growth of capillaries and arteries through this coating, the implantation is performed by scraping the outer cartilaginous layer of the bone and placing the implant directly in contact with the outer layer of classic hydroxyapatite where the osteoblasts are located, the porosity in the piece allows the new bone to grow inside the piece which is kept fixed in place by resorbable ties that are removed inside the body after 6 months, the pieces obtain their porosity by adding salt granules to the material during the impression and after drying the pieces are immersed in hot water dissolving the salt causing the porosity and high energy lasers are used for the pores that go through the whole material.
  6. Training: fine motor skills, agility and strength control are trained. To this end, applicants are trained in ballet, embroidery, sewing, gymnastics, and chess so that they learn to perform fine and precise high-speed movements and develop their strategic thinking.

The genetic modifications are performed using crisper cas9 on guide strands customized for each applicant, the protein is administered by a virus with the RNA removed and loaded with the crisper with the guide strands and recombinant in single-stranded DNA format, the serum with the modified virus is injected into the body in the arms, legs, torso and carotid artery modified much of the cells of the body and let cell reproduction is responsible for 100% of the cells to be modified, and obviously each crisper carries a guide strand and a recombinant strand in a single stranded DNA format, The serum with the modified virus is injected into the body in the arms, legs, torso and carotid artery modified most of the cells of the body and the cellular reproduction is left to take care that 100% of the cells are modified, and obviously each crisper carries a guide strand and a recombinant strand and each virus can carry only one set of these so several treatments are required to integrate all the recombinant genes required for the genetic modification step.

And this process is separated by several weeks because it must be given time for recombination and it is required to take tissue samples after a few weeks to sequence them and check that the introduced DNA has not been expelled (if that happens it is urgent to redo the gene therapy with a modified recombinant strand, otherwise the alteration could be fatal) if everything went well and the DNA is integrated it is passed to the next step of genetic modification (this process can easily take a whole year). More relevant data: both men and women can be applicants but women must be treated with testosterone for 6 months before starting the process and also require more physical conditioning than a man (due to the anabolic effects of testosterone and the limit imposed by estrogen), the average age of applicants is 31 and you cannot perform the modification over 45 (if attempted it is 99% fatal in phase 2), the statistics 2 out of 3 applicants die in phases 2 and 3 (if they get the biocudendum it is practically impossible to die from the enhancements), although the genetic enhancement greatly increases life expectancy it is not immortality it is expected that in 2000 years they would die of old age on the other hand the projected life expectancy is 400 years and it is assumed that no one will die of old age given their very violent lifestyle.

the question is whether the set of improvements listed as a whole would result in a true super soldier considering real world biology and technology? I am not asking about each enhancement individually just try to mention as summarily as possible each individual enhancement to give context of what processes were performed. what I want to know is if doing that to a human would indeed make them a super soldier or if it would just waste a lot of money.

some important clarifications the p53 and p21 genes are anti-tumor genes that normally prevent cancer, rad51, rad52 and recA are enzymes that repair DNA damage, igf 1 is a hormone with hypertrophic effects on striated muscle and myocardium, follistatin allows the increase of muscle volume and density (I will not go into the biochemistry here because it would be off topic).

And if these super soldiers are highly indoctrinated to be extremely loyal and not question any orders, it is something less like propaganda and much more like mk ultra.

As for the cost, it is really expensive to create each super soldier costing about 10 million dollars for each generation (about 100 applicants) but this program is more an experiment than a broad use, the objective is to study the effect of genetic modification to use it in a future project of super human clones much cheaper than converting humans.

The last important detail is that this occurs in the near future, 10 to 15 years in the future.

$\endgroup$
10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ if you're asking to assess each improvement individually that's far too many questions for a single post on this site. Keep in mind that realistic is a very subjective assessment. Can you try to edit this to ask a much more specific and less subjective question? While you're at it you should probably consider removing extraneous content to make your post easier to read and understand. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings well the question is about the augmentation process itself not about each individual enhancement (literally each enhancement would need its own question to go into details) although it would be nice if they would say why some enhancement is impossible. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ Your question has a lot of different processes in it. Which one are you asking about. We're pretty strict with the questions we permit on this site. They are expected to ask a single specific question. Can you edit it down to ask about just one process? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 2:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've flicked through your question - my first thought is/was: "The Games Workshop legal department will likely want to have a few words" A lot of what you've written sounds like a Space Marine from WH40K. However, to answer your question, I'm not going to answer it directly - because Dr Chris Raynor has done an excellent video series on YouTube as to the Medical possibilities of this: First installment here Because of the similarities between WH40K and what you've written, my suggest is to watch the video series and take the medical bits and pie $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 3:14
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Is this level of detail actually necessary for your story? While this makes a fun read for the absolute most nerdy of us, general audiences don't want to know the exact genes you are manipulating and hormones injected, and the few people who know what you are talking about at all will most likely know enough to find something in this litany of details that is wrong. If you remove all of the "use this" and just keep the "to do this", your setting will probably be more digestible. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 15:55

7 Answers 7

6
$\begingroup$

No.

First off, a disclaimer: I've probably missed a lot of what you were trying to say, and misinterpreted the rest. Your question is a big wall of text, and could use some punctuation. That said, I'll give it my best shot:

The Square-Cube Law is annoying. Bigger is not necessarily better. Huge soldiers have to carry around their own massive bulk, making them slow and sluggish. While training can help, it won't entirely fix this. On top of that, having huge soldiers is a logistical nightmare. All their gear, transport, weaponry, housing, and rations must increase in size to accommodate them. This makes it all substantially more expensive. This especially affects air transport: in order to accommodate the super-soldiers, cargo planes and helicopters must have bigger airframes, which require bigger engines, which require exponentially more fuel, which increases the size of the airframe, ad nauseaum.

$\endgroup$
5
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Logistics as the main problem is something that I had not taken into account and it seems a pretty serious problem, on the other hand the law of the square cube should not be such a big problem in this case, partly because of the scale and partly because it only lengthens a human doesn't make it thicker or wider, there's a reason it has 2 hearts and 3 lungs anyway and it's partly so they can offset the energy jack of moving fast with their weight. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 3:44
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Let's not even mention making them unable to be anaesthetised at the end of round 2, before they have to go through even more surgical procedures. I doubt even an extreme masochist would sign up for that process. Even a brutal regime that does not care about the soldiers' feelings would not be stupid enough to torture its supersoldiers into hating it before making them really powerful and dangerous. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 3:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ So obviously the conclusion is that smaller soldiers will be more super. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 17:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'd think the biggest size concern here would be that "bigger soldier" = "bigger target". In a war of projectile weapons, being large is a disadvantage. Any of the (very few) WWII US Marine veterans remaining will happily tell you that the realtively small stature of the Japanese soldiers they faced didn't make them pushovers. $\endgroup$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @darthmomin Where are the extra organs going to go? The only way to accommodate the extra organs is to further increase the body's bulk, offsetting any advantage they may give. As T.E.D. pointed out, we no longer fight with clubs and swords. While huge soldiers look impressive, you don't need to be big to pull a trigger. Soldiers only need to be big enough to carry their own gear. Anything beyond that makes them slower, easier to shoot, and harder to feed. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 16:05
5
$\begingroup$

No... just, NO!

Oh boy, where do I start with this list of abominations! At the beginning, of course.

First mistake: concentrating on improving humans, which evolution has already improved as much as it can, when you could concentrate on improving robots, which can be improved a lot more. Let humans decide the strategic goals, but let the robots do the fighting, they're better at it than any human could ever be. However, if we ignore robots, here are the rest of the problems with this programme:

Stage 1 #3: Human Growth Hormone: Producing excess HGH will serve only to cause acromegaly in adult subjects - pay particular attention to Signs and Symptoms - and if you're doing this to children, your whole society has problems, as children shouldn't be deciding that they want to become soldiers as early in their lives as they would need to begin this treatment.

Stage 1 #5: You don't want big soldiers, you're better off with average-sized soldiers. They fit into your vehicles better, and the more consistent their physical dimensions, the easier it is to equip them. Actually, why not make them smaller, you'll save heaps by being able to make smaller vehicles. In fact, just remove their brains and put them in a cyborg chassis and make them a lot smaller.

Stage 2 #1: A solid crystalline lens would be incapable of accommodation, meaning that it could not focus. A fixed-focus eye is next to useless. 200/20 vision is not achievable by improving the focal elements of the eye if the retina is not capable of sensing the necessarily increased level of detail, or the brain adapted to processing the additional data. As for "night vision like a cat", this has more to do with cats possessing a tapetum behind the retina, which humans do not have. Feline night vision also comes at the cost of tradeoffs making their daylight vision worse than humans.

Stage 2 #2: Where is this "4 times larger" second heart going to go? In the chest, displacing the lungs that will be necessary to supply this abomination with the necessary extra oxygen? In the abdomen, where pressure from other organs will cause something like cardiac tamponade? This isn't going to work at all.

Where is the 3rd lung going to go, and how can it be any better at absorbing oxygen than a human lung without being non-human and causing rejection problems? No again.

How can a human kidney be improved as you specify without causing rejection problems again. Another no.

Stage 2 #4: All these non-human organs are causing serious rejection problems, and the antirejection drugs have very serious drawbacks that typically make a person a non-candidate for military service. And if you think that a modified liver is going to make the subject immune to anesthetics, think again. It may hasten recovery from some anesthetics, but not all of them.

Stage 3 #1: Unless you're replacing the whole brain, you can't increase the speed of nerve conduction or neurotransmitter diffusion, and if you could, you've just upset the delicately balanced timings of the brain and made your soldier into a vegetable. If you can replace the entire human brain with something faster and probably electronic, put it in a robot.

Pain inhibitor? Do you really want your soldiers injuring themselves and not even noticing? Pain inhibition through nerve damage is one of the effects of leprosy that results in amputations due to un-noticed injuries.

An empathic blocker turning your soldier into a sociopath? You actually want to make trained killers who will kill you without remorse for what you've done to them - or just because they're feeling pissed off? Studies show that the most effective soldiers are calm, even in the heat of battle. Not psychopaths, who will get angry and stop thinking rationally. Even if you let the person who has this implant control it, would you want them to?

Part 3 #3: Where is this "bio-cudendum" going to go, and how is it going to get its payload of stem cells to where they are needed, and how are the stem cells actually going to know how to cause the desired regeneration? If this stuff is released into the bloodstream, you're just going to have blocked blood vessels, leading to amputations. Humans can't regenerate, and stem cells aren't going to change that.

Part 3 #5: Why would you want to coat the bones with boron carbide? This would rob the bones of their ability to dynamically remodel themselves to increased strain (the bones of people who do heavy physical labour become thicker as a result), and BC is hard but brittle, and if a bone broke, it would hamper healing.

Part 3 #6: Having done all this to your soldier, you won't be able to train them, they'll be too impaired by their so-called enhancements, and will likely just get frustrated and fly into a psychopathic rage.

Psychopaths cannot be trusted, no matter how well indoctrinated you think they are. They have impaired thought processes that mean that they are highly likely to lose control and kill whenever frustrated, and not only enemy combatants, but civilians and animals too, and without fear, they're just that much more likely to get themselves killed.

With all of that, you don't have a super-soldier, you have a super-liability.

Don't waste your money, invest it in robotics. A robot can have reaction times so fast that, given time and improvement, no human combatant will be able to enter the field of battle against them and expect to prevail. Repairs will be way cheaper and easier too, since you don't have rejection problems with the standardized mass-produced parts.

Finally, as a piece of advice, if you don't thoroughly understand human physiology, don't try to be so specific as to what your enhancements are, just say what effect they have... and even then, you have to beware of breaking suspension of disbelief. You might be better off asking, "How can enhancements do X?" here.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ 1° tissue rejection is due to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), no matter how genetically modified the new organs are, since they are a "clone" of the MHC aspirant, and there is no rejection, 2° acromegaly would not be a serious problem since it would not have time to cause disabling deformities and the skeleton would be modified anyway, 3° you confused a psychopath with a sociopath, a psychopath by definition is someone who lacks empathic response, sociopaths are the violent ones, $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ 4° a small electrical charge can increase the neuron-neuron conduction hairiness by increasing the polarization of this and in the same way it reduces the repolarization time so a new synapse can be made earlier than normal, it does not compare with an electronic processor but it is better than a human brain, 5° the 2nd heart and 3rd lung are placed in the toxicara cavity this is one of the reasons to lengthen the bones of the aspirant to leave space, $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ 6° the bio-cudendum is placed just below the kidneys and attached to the spine, connected to the circulatory system, its charge is released directly into the bloodstream, the stem cells know which tissue to regenerate exactly as they normally do by the extravasar matrix and the messengers released by the cells, humans if we can regenerate limbs well in theory what happens is that the inflammatory reaction and scarring prevent us from doing so for a $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 3:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let's just say that I disagree with most of those points, for reasons I've gone into in my answer. Maybe you could do something like this in a few hundred years with extensive genetic engineering on vat-grown soldier-clones, but not in 10-15 years. The one real-world reason to not use autonomous robots in warfare is lack of empathetic response. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 3:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @darthmomin verywellmind.com/what-is-a-sociopath-380184 You don't want either as a soldier, you want someone who will remain calm regardless of what is happening or what they need to do. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 3:43
4
$\begingroup$

Bigger isn't better

Firstly, it's your story so your super soldiers work because you say they work but realistically bigger soldiers are not better soldiers.

Bigger soldiers are bigger targets. If I'm a sniper sitting on a hillside and I see a bunch of soldiers sitting around, I'm going to shoot your super soldiers first. How will I know which one that is? It's the 3M meat mountain. I don't care how great he is, no head means he's dead. It's why officers are not marked in the field and soldiers are not even allowed to salute someone in the field.

That said, you can make super soldiers normal sized people. Implant artificial muscle, cyber eyes, improved nerves, artificial heart etc. You can grow them from birth using animal DNA. Muscles from an ape, eyes from an eagle, colour shifting skin from chameleons. Finally it can be external with strength enhancement exoskeletons, smart weapons, cloaking fields, jammers etc.

Maybe a mix of all three?

Whatever way you choose, super soldiers should look like everyone else because they're a target if they're not.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ Mostly I agree, but one exception I've seen to this rule is when heavy armor is involved. Longer limbs allow thicker armor plates to articulate; so, a 3m tall super soldier may be armored against sniper riffles and HMGs in a setting where a shorter solider could not physically move in such armor. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 15:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Mostly agree, but with 2 caveats: 1) Humans are apes, and thus already come with "muscles of an ape" as standard equiment. 2) Suspect you meant one of the other great apes, who are much stronger. That's fine if you wanna do it, but the trade-off for humans is that we have comparatively ungodly endurance, and can swim. You might find those 2 capabilities can be important in a soldier. $\endgroup$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 18:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki A 50 cal sniper rifle with depleted uranium rounds can poke holes in tanks. No armour a super soldier could wear can stop it short of scifi force fields or such. Personally I don't see super soldiers as viable as war needs to be cheaper and faster. They can't spend years making a soldier and having a lucky shot take them out in the first two minutes. Slaughter bot drones are the future of warfare. Cheap and plentiful. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. The trade-off that other apes have for greater strength is slower speed - their muscle attachment points are further from their joints, making moving those joints more powerful but slower. That's not so good for a soldier, who needs to be fast. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne There are AFVs that look a lot like tanks that a 50cal can pernitrate, but most of them only have about 1/2" or so of actual armor. 3cm thick Level-4 ceramic composite armor will stop a 50 cal armor penetrating round. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/193107/… $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 16:26
4
$\begingroup$

It's not viable.

Lesson #1 of any super-soldier or super-weapon question: The enemy gets a vote. And the enemy is not stupid.

What you have really done with all that lengthy treatment, training, and multiple surgeries is to make individual soldiers spectacularly expensive AND hard to replace when they become casualties.

They are still human. They are still vulnerable when they sleep. They can still be surprised and confused. They are still vulnerable to common battlefield weapons: Artillery, antitank rockets, heavy machine guns. Physics wins against super-bones and exo-armor -- lots of current weapons exist that impart enough momentum (or kinetic energy, take your pick) to injure or kill.

So the enemy will attack their weaknesses. They will surprise. They will ambush. They will shell. They will mine. They will use remote-controlled weapons and remote-delivery systems. They will avoid engaging the super-soldiers strengths (that's how you lose). And the enemy will record and broadcast super-soldiers dying under their fire to prove to the world that they are indeed vulnerable.

Lesson #2 of any super-soldier question: What happens to the super-soldiers when the war is over? Or when they reach retirement age?

If super-soldiers cannot be de-fanged and returned to society, then what kinds of fools and wackos are going to volunteer for the job? And if they are fools and wackos, should they really get such combat power permanently? What will your society do about an elderly war hero who cannot be de-fanged and gets dementia? Murder them "for the greater good?" Maybe that side didn't deserve to win after all.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ For Lesson #2: given thier greater size and over-driven everything, I suspect they wont age well. Living long enough to retire and get dementia may not be a concern if they tend to die of heart attacks before they turn 50. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ You can't do anything like that which the OP suggests without expecting most of the super-soldiers to die in combat before they get old enough to retire. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 2:18
2
$\begingroup$

The biology looks mostly plausible. I'm pretty sure you still have an elevated cancer risk, despite the copy number compensation, but that's only relevant if you don't get blown up within 6 months of completing the treatment.

I'm not sure this is all that effective, though. Being stronger, tougher, and faster-healing are advantages (bigger, not so much), but you can get most of that from powered armor much more cheaply. Or drive a tank.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The biology is not even remotely possible. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 1:56
2
$\begingroup$

Nay.

Super soldiers are a staple in many sci-fi products, but there's an inherent problem with them in a more realistic scenario: just like guns beat karate most of the time, robots beat realistic super soldiers most of the time.

For starters: while other answers already spoke about them necessarily being affected by the square cube law and how being 3 m tall makes you a walking target, there's also the other matter: your soldiers are poorly prepared to fight humans anywhere that isn't an open space.

Adding to them being extremely easy to tell apart and inherent problems regarding moving their greater mass (because if you want to swing a heavier object at the same speed, you'll need more force and thus more energy), your 3m tall soldiers, while more than capable of reaching most top shelves, will also have another problem to deal with: confined spaces. Take the Vietnam War, where the vietcong would dig complex tunnel systems for shelters and pathways, allowing them to cause several problems. If it was already hard for some of the American soldiers to get in and move around in those, it'd be a death sentence to yours. A very similar thing would happen the moment the enemy retreated into any place not designed to comfortably house anything over 2 meters in height. Sure, your soldiers might be able to move faster overall due to a longer gait and will certainly win in a fistfight against the enemy, but then what? The moment the enemy gets somewhere that's barely able to fit in a tall human, they're out their element and at a pretty decent disadvantage. The sheer size difference is highly exploitable, especially if the enemy already relies heavily on guerilla tactics.

Like others have also mentioned, technology is inherently superior in terms of warfare. Sure, genetically modified giant soldiers are cool, but do you know what's cooler from a military perspective? A drone that can kill a man inside a house by releasing a missile designed to chop them to bits, with minimal unintentional casualties and not a single soldier involved out in the field where a single bullet can turn all of the money spent to train and prepare them into a wasted investment. Giant humans may be strong, but they're not winning against equivalently sized artificial muscles in neither strength nor endurance. No amount of hearts or lungs will allow a human to outrun a bullet or a missile, and there's only so much protection you can put on them, that being less than the penetration power already available.

At the end of the day, your super giant soldiers would be totally rad, but from a realistic perspective, they're ill suited, especially since we live in a world that's not designed around accessibility for 3 meter tall human gorillas, and since they will not be fighting against other 3 meter tall human gorillas only. The drones sure don't discriminate though, nor hesitate as a matter of fact.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Something like this could be worth doing

So there are a lot of votes for "no, this is a bad idea", but there are also some pretty good reasons to support the idea of a taller stronger super solider. We all assume that bigger is better when talking about ancient or mediaeval warfare, but the advantages of size in modern warfare are less obvious. All the advantages and disadvantages of being taller in a modern war are so complex that when we focus on them all it would seem impossible to tell what is better. Larger soldiers can carry more, run faster, and tire more slowly (when carrying the same gear), but smaller soldiers can go places larger guys can't go, they are smaller targets, and they require less food and water.

But lucky (for purposes of this question), there is real world data to say what works better. The British Army records from the First World War, showed that "surviving soldiers were on average more than one inch (3.33 cm) taller than fallen soldiers". This suggests that even in modern warfare, bigger is still better. The thing is that most gunfights happen at such short ranges that being a bit bigger of a target is less consequential than having longer legs to get you out of a firing line faster, or the ability to march for 10km and not be exhausted trying to carry half your weight in equipment.

So, the data says being a little bigger is better in a modern war, but what about much bigger in a future war? Well as it turns out, this has already been mostly answered in related questions. If you factor in power armor, going bigger than human has some major advantages. Guns meant to be used by a mobile, single infantry soldiers pretty much top out at a STANAG 4569 threat level 3. And anti-material riffles and static machine guns at threat level 4. Anything more lethal than this is going to be a specialized anti-tank weapon which is generally going heavy, cumbersome, and not something you field a lot of. This means that if you can stack about 3cm of composite ceramic armor onto a solider, they can survive 99% of infantry weapons. However, if your limbs are to short, then you can't articulate 3cm armor plates; so, being taller means that you open up the option of power armor that will let you curb stomp your way through other infantry.

Also, if we assume your super soldiers belong to a military super power and that most nations don't have access to anything like this, then many of your enemies will still be stuck using human soldiers carrying low caliber guns, and have very few weapon systems to counter your super soldiers with.

But why field humans at all?

AI are super effective killing machines when everything goes according to plan, but there are too many exploitable weaknesses with AI to send them in alone. You need a human commander telling them what to do, where to go, and when that guy with a cardboard box over his head is actually an enemy combatant. We already seeing this trend in the form of 6th generation fighter warfare. AI powered "loyal wingmen" are the actual backbone behind new fighter tactics, but at the core of each formation is still going to be a human controlled fighter to make important tactical choices and over-ride AI powered naïve actions. Similarly we should expect the same to take place in ground warfare. You will still need a human commander telling the AI battle droids what to do; so, being able to make that commander faster and harder to kill will have a multiplying effect on the total combat worthiness of your battle droid platoons.

And this leads into why you want to invest so much into these super soldiers. If 19 out of 20 ground combatants are no longer human, then you no longer need to recruit lot of human ground combatants, just a few VERY capable ground commanders. A single high tech squad of AI battle droids could cost more than a modern tank; so, in an entire war you may only need a few hundred recruits to lead the AI infantry. So, even though you could never find enough volunteers for this surgery to replace modern infantry, the prevalence of AI could make the demand be small enough to actually be filled.

What about the technobabble bits?

Honestly, there is simply so much technobabble in the question itself that this is almost impossible to really break down, but I would offer instead this suggestion. Don't explain it so much. While you can use this understanding to break the operation into experience described in your story, it is best not to say all of this to your audience. If you just describe it as he gets injected with something at this point, under goes a surgery later, etc. then you can build up all the effects you are looking for without being so specific that someone might call BS for something being unrealistic because just saying "there is a gene treatment for XYZ" is much less contestable than "These are all the exact genes I'm messing with."

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .