Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips

Source: BU

ABSTRACT: My purpose is to initiate a discussion of the ethics of implanting computer chips in the brain and to raise some initial ethical and social questions. Computer scientists predict that within the next twenty years neural interfaces will be designed that will not only increase the dynamic range of senses, but will also enhance memory and enable “cyberthink” — invisible communication with others. This technology will facilitate consistent and constant access to information when and where it is needed. The ethical evaluation in this paper focuses on issues of safely and informed consent, issues of manufacturing and scientific responsibility, anxieties about the psychological impacts of enhancing human nature, worries about possible usage in children, and most troubling, issues of privacy and autonomy. Inasmuch as this technology is fraught with perilous implications for radically changing human nature, for invasions of privacy and for governmental control of individuals, public discussion of its benefits and burdens should be initiated, and policy decisions should be made as to whether its development should be proscribed or regulated, rather than left to happenstance, experts and the vagaries of the commercial market.

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