October 1, 2022

UK bioethics group investigates new wave of brain technologies

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics in the UK launched a consultation this week on the ethics of new types of technologies and devices that ‘intervene’ in the brain, such as brain-computer interfaces, deep brain stimulation, and neural stem cell therapy.

 

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics in the UK launched a consultation this week on the ethics of new types of technologies and devices that ‘intervene’ in the brain, such as brain-computer interfaces, deep brain stimulation, and neural stem cell therapy.

These technologies are often being developed for use in the treatment of conditions including Parkinson’s disease, depression and stroke. But they could also be used to develop weapons or vehicles that are controlled remotely by brain signals. There are commercial possibilities in the gaming industry, for example, the development of computer games that are controlled by people’s thoughts.

“Intervening in the brain has always raised both hopes and fears in equal measure” said Thomas Baldwin, Chair of the Council’s study and Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. “Hopes of curing terrible diseases, and fears about the consequences of trying to enhance human capability beyond what is normally possible. These challenge us to think carefully about fundamental questions to do with the brain: what makes us human, what makes us an individual, and how and why do we think and behave in the way we do.”

Michael Cook
enhancement
neuroethics
neuroscience