Ethicists create framework to regulate brain technology

Ethicists from the University of Basel have developed a biosecurity framework specific to neurotechnology while calling for a ban on dual-use technology with the aim of regulating mental privacy and integrity of humans. Findings were published in Neuron.

This study responded to the recent military investments in neuroscience and neurotechnology research for dual use—meaning a technology that can be used for "good" medical uses or "harmful" military aims. The increasing growth in brain technology prototypes meant to alter emotions, cognition and behavior in soldiers has lead to the development of a biosecurity framework described in the study.

“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,” said first author Marcello Ienca from the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

Military research into neuroscience has increased concerns of weaponization of neurotechnology. In response, three bioethicists from the University of Basel recommended a ban on ethically unjustified military neurotechnology. The ban could delay the developed of technology for patients with Alzheimer’s or spinal injuries, but could also stop any additional military experimentation.

As the population ages, the need for these technologies is increasing. To push the creation process forward, researchers developed a framework concept for biosafety for neurotechnology. The framework proposes a “code of conduct” for military research, neuro-specific regulations and increased awareness within the scientific community.