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Responsible neuroengineering: Neurotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance our lives if it preserves our 1) privacy, 2) identity, 3) agency and 4) equality, researchers say

After hav­ing elec­trodes implant­ed in the brain to stim­u­late neur­al activ­i­ty, some peo­ple have report­ed feel­ing an altered sense of iden­ti­ty.


Four eth­i­cal pri­or­i­ties for neu­rotech­nolo­gies and AI (Nature):

Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and brain–computer inter­faces must respect and pre­serve peo­ple’s pri­va­cy, iden­ti­ty, agency and equal­i­ty, say Rafael Yuste, Sara Goer­ing and col­leagues.

Con­sid­er the fol­low­ing sce­nario. A paral­ysed man par­tic­i­pates in a clin­i­cal tri­al of a brain–computer inter­face (BCI). A com­put­er con­nect­ed to a chip in his brain is trained to inter­pret the neur­al activ­i­ty result­ing from his men­tal rehearsals of an action. The com­put­er gen­er­ates com­mands that move a robot­ic arm. One day, the man feels frus­trat­ed with the exper­i­men­tal team. Lat­er, his robot­ic hand crush­es a cup after tak­ing it from one of the research assis­tants, and hurts the assis­tant. Apol­o­giz­ing for what he says must have been a mal­func­tion of the device, he won­ders whether his frus­tra­tion with the team played a part.

This sce­nario is hypo­thet­i­cal. But it illus­trates some of the chal­lenges that soci­ety might be head­ing towards…It might take years or even decades until BCI and oth­er neu­rotech­nolo­gies are part of our dai­ly lives. But tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments mean that we are on a path to a world in which it will be pos­si­ble to decode peo­ple’s men­tal process­es and direct­ly manip­u­late the brain mech­a­nisms under­ly­ing their inten­tions, emo­tions and deci­sions; where indi­vid­u­als could com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers sim­ply by think­ing; and where pow­er­ful com­pu­ta­tion­al sys­tems linked direct­ly to peo­ple’s brains aid their inter­ac­tions with the world such that their men­tal and phys­i­cal abil­i­ties are great­ly enhanced…

Under­ly­ing many of these rec­om­men­da­tions is a call for indus­try and aca­d­e­m­ic researchers to take on the respon­si­bil­i­ties that come with devis­ing devices and sys­tems capa­ble of bring­ing such change. In doing so, they could draw on frame­works that have already been devel­oped for respon­si­ble inno­va­tion.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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