Studies identify key ethical concerns raised by invasive and non-invasive neurotechnologies

Stud­ies out­line key eth­i­cal ques­tions sur­round­ing brain-com­put­er inter­face tech (NCSU release):

Brain-com­put­er inter­face (BCI) tech­nolo­gies are no longer hypo­thet­i­cal, yet there are fun­da­men­tal aspects of the tech­nol­o­gy that remain unad­dressed by both ethi­cists and pol­i­cy-mak­ers. Two new papers address these issues by out­lin­ing the out­stand­ing eth­i­cal issues, offer­ing guid­ance for address­ing those issues, and offer­ing par­tic­u­lar insight into the field of BCI tech for cog­ni­tive enhancement.

BCI devices can be non-inva­sive devices that users wear, or they can be inva­sive devices, which are sur­gi­cal­ly implant­ed,” says Veljko Dublje­vi, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor in NC State’s Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy & Soci­ety pro­gram and co-author of both papers. “The inva­sive devices are more effi­cient, since they can read sig­nals direct­ly from the brain. How­ev­er, they also raise more eth­i­cal concerns.

For exam­ple, inva­sive BCI tech­nolo­gies car­ry more asso­ci­at­ed risks such as surgery, infec­tion, and glial scar­ring — and inva­sive BCI devices would be more dif­fi­cult to replace as tech­nol­o­gy improves.”

The Studies:

Eth­i­cal Aspects of BCI Tech­nol­o­gy: What Is the State of the Art? (Philoso­phies). From the abstract:

  • Brain–Computer Inter­face (BCI) tech­nol­o­gy is a promis­ing research area in many domains. Brain activ­i­ty can be inter­pret­ed through both inva­sive and non-inva­sive mon­i­tor­ing devices, allow­ing for nov­el, ther­a­peu­tic solu­tions for indi­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties and for oth­er non-med­ical appli­ca­tions. How­ev­er, a num­ber of eth­i­cal issues have been iden­ti­fied from the use of BCI tech­nol­o­gy. In this paper, we review the aca­d­e­m­ic dis­cus­sion of the eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions of BCI tech­nol­o­gy in the last five years. We con­clude that some emerg­ing appli­ca­tions of BCI technology—including com­mer­cial ven­tures that seek to meld human intel­li­gence with AI—present new and unique eth­i­cal con­cerns … we iden­ti­fy two key areas of BCI ethics that war­rant fur­ther research: the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal effects of BCI technology.

The Authen­tic­i­ty of Machine-Aug­ment­ed Human Intel­li­gence: Ther­a­py, Enhance­ment, and the Extend­ed Mind (Neu­roethics). From the abstract:

  • Eth­i­cal analy­ses of bio­med­ical human enhance­ment often con­sid­er the issue of authen­tic­i­ty — to what degree can the accom­plish­ments of those uti­liz­ing bio­med­ical enhance­ments (includ­ing cog­ni­tive or ath­let­ic ones) be con­sid­ered authen­tic or wor­thy of praise? As research into Brain-Com­put­er Inter­face (BCI) tech­nol­o­gy pro­gress­es, it may soon be fea­si­ble to cre­ate a BCI device that enhances or aug­ments nat­ur­al human intel­li­gence through some inva­sive or non­in­va­sive bio­med­ical means. In this arti­cle we will (1) review cur­rent­ly exist­ing BCI tech­nolo­gies and to what extent these can be said to enhance or aug­ment the capa­bil­i­ties of the respec­tive users, (2) describe one hypo­thet­i­cal type of BCI device that could aug­ment or enhance a spe­cif­ic aspect of human knowl­edge — name­ly, math­e­mat­i­cal abil­i­ty, and (3) relate these con­cepts to the active exter­nal­ism view of the extend­ed mind as espoused by Clark and Chalmers in order to (4) argue that knowl­edge of math­e­mat­ics derived from the usage of a BCI and the appli­ca­tion there­of con­sti­tutes authen­tic knowl­edge and achievement.

News in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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