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A threat to Autonomy? The Intrusion of Predictive Brain Implants


Gilbert, F, A threat to Autonomy? The Intrusion of Predictive Brain Implants, AJOB Neuroscience, 6, (4) pp. 4-11. ISSN 2150-7740 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Frederic Gilbert

DOI: doi:10.1080/21507740.2015.1076087


The world’s first-in-human clinical trial using invasive intelligent brain devices—devices which predict specific neuronal events directly to the implanted person—has been completed with significant success. Predicting brain activity before specific outcomes occur brings a raft of unprecedented applications, especially when implants offer advice on how to respond to the neuronal events forecasted. Although these novel predictive and advisory implantable devices offer great potential to positively affect patients following surgery by enhancing quality of life (e.g. provide control over symptoms), substantial ethical concerns remain. The invasive nature of these novel devices is not unique; however the inclusion of predictive and advisory functionalities within the implants, involving permanent monitoring of brain activity in real-time raises new ethical issues to explore, especially in relation to concerns for patient autonomy. What might be the effects of ongoing monitoring of predictive and advisory brain technologies on a patient’s postoperative sense of autonomy? The role played by predictive and advisory implantable brain devices on patient’s feelings of autonomy following surgery is completely unknown. The first section of this article addresses this shortcoming by reporting on a pilot study that we conducted with one of the patients implanted with one of these novel brain devices. The second section examines how over-reliance on predictive and advisory brain technologies may threaten patients’ autonomy. The third section looks into ethical problems concerning how devices delivering automated therapeutic responses might, hypothetically speaking, be used to monitor and control individual’s autonomy through inhibition of undesirable behaviors.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Advisory system, autonomy, brain devices, brain implants, predictive brain devices, informed consent.
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Ethical use of new technology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Gilbert, F (Associate Professor Frederic Gilbert)
ID Code:102012
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE150101390)
Deposited By:Arts, Law and Education
Deposited On:2015-07-22
Last Modified:2016-03-03
Downloads:224 View Download Statistics

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