Ethical Issues in Brain-Computer Interface Research, Development, and Dissemination

Rutger Vlek, David Steines, Dyana Szibbo, Andrea Kübler, Mary-Jane Schneider, Pim Haselager, Femke Nijboer

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    The steadily growing field of brain-computer interfacing (BCI) may develop useful technologies, with a potential impact not only on individuals, but also on society as a whole. At the same time, the development of BCI presents significant ethical and legal challenges. In a workshop during the 4th International BCI meeting (Asilomar, California, 2010), six panel members from various BCI laboratories and companies set out to identify and disentangle ethical issues related to BCI use in four case scenarios, which were inspired by current experiences in BCI laboratories. Results of the discussion are reported in this article, touching on topics such as the representation of persons with communication impairments, dealing with technological complexity and moral responsibility in multidisciplinary teams, and managing expectations, ranging from an individual user to the general public. Furthermore, we illustrate that where treatment and research interests conflict, ethical concerns arise. On the basis of the four case scenarios, we discuss salient, practical ethical issues that may confront any member of a typical multidisciplinary BCI team. We encourage the BCI and rehabilitation communities to engage in a dialogue, and to further identify and address pressing ethical issues as they occur in the practice of BCI research and its commercial applications.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)94-99
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of neurologic physical therapy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • Ethics
    • METIS-296063
    • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP7/248320
    • IR-80471
    • Neurotechnology
    • EWI-21870
    • Brain-Computer Interface
    • HMI-HF: Human Factors
    • locked-in syndrome
    • Neuroethics

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