Nav: Home

From healthcare to warfare: How to regulate brain technology

January 18, 2018

Ethicists from the University of Basel have outlined a new biosecurity framework specific to neurotechnology. While the researchers declare an outright ban of dual-use technology ethically unjustified, they call for regulations aimed at protecting the mental privacy and integrity of humans. The journal Neuron has published the study.

The term "dual-use" refers to technology that can be used for both beneficial (i.e., medical) and harmful (i.e., military of terroristic) aims. Until recently, most dual-use technology emerged especially in virology and bacteriology. In the last years, however, military-funded research has entered the domain of neuroscience and neurotechnology.

This has resulted in a rapid growth in brain technology prototypes aimed at modulating the emotions, cognition, and behavior of soldiers. These include neurotechnological applications for deception detection and interrogation as well as brain-computer interfaces for military purposes.

Neurotechnology and ethical issues

This military research has raised concern about the risks associated with the weaponization of neurotechnology, sparking a debate about controversial questions: Is it legitimate to conduct military research on brain technology? And how should policy-makers regulate dual-use neurotechnology?

Three bioethicists from the University of Basel have now argue in a study that an outright ban on military neurotechnology would not be ethically justified. According to the study, a ban could delay the development of new technologies for people in need such as Alzheimer's patients or people with spinal injuries. A ban could also push military experimentation underground.

Outline for biosecurity framework

With the aging of the world population and the consequent prevalence of brain disorders, they argue, there is an increasing need for investment in neurotechnological innovation.

For this reason, they have developed a framework concept for biosafety that is specifically geared to neurotechnology. It proposes neuro-specific regulatory approaches as well as a code of conduct for military research and calls for awareness-raising measures in the scientific community.

«Our framework postulates the development of regulations and ethical guidelines aimed at protecting the mental dimension of individuals and groups, especially their mental privacy and integrity,» says first author Marcello Ienca from the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel. In addition, the researchers call for raising awareness and starting a debate about these controversial issues.
-end-
Original source

Marcello Ienca, Fabrice Jotterand, Bernice Simone Elger
From Healthcare to Warfare and Reverse: How Should We Regulate Dual-Use Neurotechnology?
Neuron (2018), doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.017

University of Basel

Related Brain Articles:

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.
Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.
An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.
Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.
Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.
Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.
BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.
Wiring diagram of the brain provides a clearer picture of brain scan data
In a study published today in the journal BRAIN, neuroscientists led by Michael D.
Blue Brain Project releases first-ever digital 3D brain cell atlas
The Blue Brain Cell Atlas is like ''going from hand-drawn maps to Google Earth'' -- providing previously unavailable information on major cell types, numbers and positions in all 737 brain regions.
More Brain News and Brain Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: IRL Online
Original broadcast date: March 20, 2020. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don't apply online. This hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate this vast virtual space.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Falling
There are so many ways to fall–in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.