How Neurotech Principles Are Changing Philosophy And Reforming Ethics
Neurotechnology introduces some huge questions into our collective near future. We’re being challenged to rethink our notions of rights, what it means to be an individual and whether the idea of being a “natural” human retains any meaning.
Involving philosophers, artists, legal experts and creative visionaries in these conversations is essential because much is at stake.
Neuroethics is an emerging field of ethics exploring the implications of human life in which computers augment our thoughts and consciousness. There’s a growing acknowledgment within this field that a legal framework is now vital for conceptualizing and enshrining our ‘neurorights’.
A cornerstone of this new branch of ethics is the concept of “neural integrity”, which refers to the right of a person to maintain control over his or her brain-computer interface. Flowing from this is the principle of mental privacy. With the possibility of interfaces tapping directly into brain activity, a new kind of right to privacy is emerging: the right to have your thoughts as your own.
A crucial safeguard here will be continued investment and innovation in the encryption of signals from brain interfaces. Neurogress, for example, utilizes cutting-edge encryption in its AI-based neurocontrol software which utilizes brain-computer interfacing for reading the brain signals and transforming those into device actions.
Neurotechnology has the potential to link minds together. New forms of collaboration and cooperation will inevitably form as the technology enters the corporate, creative and scientific domains. In this process, will identity lose relevance or become blurred as technologies push us further toward networking our brains into a hive mind? It is just too early to know what will happen to the boundaries between self and community.
While we may not have all the answers to these questions, neurotechnology innovators like Neurogress are drawing in a diverse collection of voices to address these questions in an ethical and informed manner.
Then there’s the question of whether the purpose of neurotechnology should be to augment and improve our lives, or if it should be allowed free reign to radically transform it. Should we really be holding on to this notion that whatever we do, it should not stray too far from our natural starting point?
Let’s say we develop a neurocontrol software which in combination with brain-computer interface and other gadgets radically increases intelligence. Should this go only to intellectually disabled people who require it in order to lead a normal life? Or should it be available to everyone? Where is the line separating a needed intervention from excessive tampering with human capabilities? What is an ethical approach to these enhancements? Who gets to decide? I’ll stop now before I wear out the question mark key on my keyboard. The point is, whichever way you spin it, these questions are, to use a technical term, righteously humongous.
The good news is that neurotechnological innovators are concerned about equality of access.
Neurogress has committed to allocating funds collected on its ICO to a charity fund dedicated to providing free neurocontrolled prostheses to disabled people who are unable to afford the technology. That’s some real coin and a step in the right direction.
Neurotechnology innovation is the focal point for some huge questions about our collective future.
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