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Let’s anticipate the potential misuse of neurological data to minimize the risks–and maximize the benefits

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The per­ils of open­ing the mind (Boston Globe):

For­get the joy­stick. Today you can use your mind alone to nav­i­gate vir­tu­al envi­ron­ments or fly real-world drones. You can buy sleek head­bands that read your brain sig­nals and help you med­i­tate or stay focused. Or you can get them for your kids to make sure they’re work­ing, not day­dream­ing

WHAT COULD BE done with infor­ma­tion derived from the brain? Large stores of data at the pop­u­la­tion lev­el could advance neu­ro­log­i­cal research. Long-term infor­ma­tion about your brain activ­i­ty could help you make lifestyle choic­es — like iden­ti­fy­ing the best meth­ods of reduc­ing stress in your life. The data also could help you and your doc­tor spot neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems ear­li­er than gen­er­al­ly hap­pens now.

But imag­ine, as well, the fol­low­ing sce­nar­ios:

–An employ­er wants to reduce the risk of on-the-job dis­abil­i­ty, so it screens appli­cants for neu­ro­log­i­cal mark­ers that they are pre­dis­posed to chron­ic pain and depres­sion.

–A school sys­tem equips stu­dents with head­bands that mon­i­tor their state of focus, restrict­ing stu­dents’ cog­ni­tive free­dom and per­haps jus­ti­fy­ing cut­ting back on teach­ers.

–A gam­ing com­pa­ny tracks a user’s arousal pat­terns, fine-tun­ing the game to his or her pre­cise tastes, induc­ing behav­ioral addic­tion.

–A polit­i­cal cam­paign buys large vol­umes of neu­ro­log­i­cal data from a data bro­ker to iden­ti­fy indi­vid­u­als with hall­marks of impul­siv­i­ty and aggres­sion, then tar­gets them with polit­i­cal­ly rad­i­cal social media mes­sag­ing and adver­tis­ing.”

News in Context:

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About SharpBrains

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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