ETHENTECH is a project that will address ethical aspects of the emerging field of Brain machine interface (BMI) technologies and their potential applications as tools for human enhancement. This technology consists in connecting brain activity (thoughts, emotions, desires) to one or more machines via electrodes. While these technologies may have substantial beneficial effects on society, their probable impact is of such a magnitude that they merit a public discussion conducted in the light of relevant facts and guided by rational deliberation. ETHENTECH hopes to contribute to this process.
The main objective of the ETHENTECH project is to develop the ethical evaluation and public discussion of two emerging fields of biotechnology that pose significant ethical and societal issues of public concern: brain implants and the potential for human functional enhancement by changing fundamental aspects of our nature. Of special interest are implants that connects the brain to one or more machines, also known as brain-machine interfaces (BMI).
This technology is applicable in the restoration of sight and hearing, of the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and many other areas. However, there are some serious ethical concerns about other potential application, such as human enhancement.
The subjects of the ETHENTECH project address some of the most far-reaching fields among emerging technologies today – in terms of their potential social impact and the challenges these will pose to ethical issues and values of European citizens and societies.
The project’s two fields, brain implants and human enhancement technologies, both lack ethical frameworks and European and International guidelines. This absence reflects the emerging and complex nature of both areas. It is clear that there is now a pressing need to engage in more depth with these issues in order to focus ethical frameworks and guidelines.
ETHENTECH will, by arranging a series of seminars with the public in several European countries, engage with citizens and inform as well as participate in the debate we wish to initiate.
ETHENTECH is a programme within the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union for the funding of research and technological development in Europe (FP7). (Link to the FP7 website.)
The Final Report from ETHENTECH with executive summary and policy relevant conclusions.
Brain machine interface (BMI) technology makes direct communication between the brain and a machine possible by means of electrodes. This paper reviews the existing and emerging technologies in this field.
This paper reviews the existing and emerging technologies in this the field of neuroimplants and offers a systematic inquiry into the relevant ethical problems that are likely to emerge in the following decades.
This report reviews and reflects critically on the literature on human enhancement
As we learn more about the human brain, novel biotechnological means to modulate human behaviour and emotional dispositions become possible. These technologies could be used to enhance our morality. Moral enhancement, an instance of human enhancement, alters a person’s dispositions, emotions or behaviour in order to make that person more moral. This report will explore this possibility.
DEMOCS (DEliberative Meetings Of CitizenS) is a participative methodology that aims to engage with lay publics in the deliberation on ethical issues.
This report describes the playing a specially created version of the Democs conversation kit on human enhancement issues, and presents an analysis of the findings.
We hereby present a novel procedure to engage the public in ethical deliberations on the potential impacts of Brain machine Interface technology. We call this procedure a Convergence seminar, a form of scenario-based group discussion that is founded on the idea of hypothetical retrospection. The theoretical background of this procedure and the results of fived seminars are presented here.
This report clarifies how laypeople's discussions on ethics differ from professional moral philosophy, and reflect how professional ethics can be more supportive of lay ethics.
Existing Brain Machine Interfaces
- Experimental Technologies
- Brain imaging
- Ethical considerations
- Dignity, privacy and autonomy
Moral philosophy is dominated by three thought patterns, each of which has been distilled into a type of moral theory. This report explores these patterns.