Experts call for ethics rules to protect privacy, free will, as brain implants advance

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The convergence of artificial intelligence and brain-computer interfaces may soon restore sight to the blind, allow the paralyzed to move robotic limbs and cure any number of brain and nervous system disorders.

But without regulation, this flurry of innovation spells trouble for humanity, warns a team of researchers led by Columbia University neuroscientist Rafael Yuste and University of Washington bioethicist Sara Goering. In a new essay in Nature, Yuste and Goering join more than two dozen physicians, ethicists, neuroscientists, and computer scientists, in calling for ethical guidelines to cover the evolving use of computer hardware and software to enhance or restore human capabilities.

"We just want to ensure that this new technology which is so exciting, and which could revolutionize our lives, is used for the good of mankind," said Yuste, director of Columbia's Neurotechnology Center and a member of the Data Science Institute.

Long the stuff of science fiction, the melding of computers with the human mind to augment or restore is moving closer to reality. The authors estimate that the for-profit brain implant industry is now worth $100 million, led by Bryan Johnson's startup Kernel, and Elon Musk's Neuralink. Under President Obama's BRAIN Initiative alone, The U.S. government has spent another $500 million since 2013, they write.

As these investments bear fruit, the authors see four main threats: the loss of individual privacy, identity and autonomy, and the potential for social inequalities to widen, as corporations, governments, and hackers gain added power to exploit and manipulate people.

To protect privacy, the authors recommend that individuals be required to opt in, as organ donors do, to sharing their from their devices, and that the sale and commercial use of personal data be strictly regulated.

To protect autonomy and identity, the authors recommend that an international convention be created to define what actions would be prohibited, and to educate people about the possible effects on mood, personality and sense of self.

Finally, to address the potential for a brain-enhancement arms race pitting people with super-human intelligence and endurance against everyone else, they suggest creating culture-specific commissions to establish norms and regulations. They also recommend that military use of brain technologies be controlled, much as chemical and biological weapons are already under the Geneva Protocol.

In an earlier essay in the journal Cell, Yuste and Goering laid out similar arguments for integrating ethics into technologies, citing the 1970s Belmont Report which set ethical principles and guidelines for research involving human subjects.


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More information: Rafael Yuste et al, Four ethical priorities for neurotechnologies and AI, Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/551159a
Provided by Columbia University
Citation: Experts call for ethics rules to protect privacy, free will, as brain implants advance (2017, November 13) retrieved 20 March 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-experts-ethics-privacy-free-brain.html
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Nov 13, 2017
Well they might want to hurry the fuck up, seeing as how there is unclassified documentation giving local gangsters to murder people for being "empowered" (http://www.soc.mi...2014.pdf
Noninvasive techniques have already been done with ultrasound, see the World Science Festival. I have not sleep good in 4 years so forgive my shortness. Oh, and I can measure it, so please explain away the evidence: https://imgur.com...ry/eRDW3

Nov 13, 2017
I at least want and off switch to the Internet of things. I don't want to have to strap magnets to head, blast noise, have multiple grounding cords and use binuaral beats to try and beat a couple hundred million dollar project.
$50 and some proofs of complexity theory and information theory, I beat the sick fucks. $50. If God is just or there is karma, the ghetto of malnourished children devour these sick fucks in hell. I pray God is not just, though I don't know, but I do know there is no hell.
I still want these people put in solitary confinement for a year. Its been about 4 years of assault for me, one year of a fraction of the torment I have been put through is not even fair.
You know there is a problem when the "NSA" is concerned with their "agents". In other word like the DEA's drug slinging children, they are fucking with you, just to fuck with you, because they have access.

Nov 13, 2017
Regulation of something means nothing. An evil cabal will just figure a workaround.
I mean, just look at US efforts for gun control...

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