Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips : LUSENET : Human-Machine Assimilation : One Thread

Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips

Ellen M. McGee and G. Q. Maguire, Jr.

Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips

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.

-- Scott (, January 26, 2000


My background as an undergraduate was in CNS research. I was assistant to a physician who specialized in the study of mirror foci in epilepsy. Oversimply, damaged nuerons produce damage in surrounding neurons, this is incremental: this damage is mirrored in the opposite hemisphere. Chip implantation will produce trauma, no matter how discrete or well controlled. So....will informed consent include these facts? Will human subjects be made fully aware? Unless research ethics have changed a GREAT deal I think this might be a problem. Also has interesting implications for Y2K incremental data corruption. Anyone want to provide links to similarities between state of the art software in common usage and organic neural behaviors?

-- mike in houston (, January 26, 2000.

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