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Are Predictive Brain Implants an indispensable feature of autonomy?


Gilbert, F and Cook, M, Are Predictive Brain Implants an indispensable feature of autonomy?, Bioethica Forum, 8, (4) pp. 121-127. ISSN 1662-601X (2015) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2015 Bioethica Forum

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Novel predictive and advisory brain implants have been tested with significant success for the first time in a human clinical trial. These implantable brain devices are programmed to predict brain activity patterns before specific outcomes occur and provide information to help patients to respond to the upcoming neuronal events that are forecast. Being guided by predictive and advisory information provided through an invasive brain technology offers enormous potential to benefit individuals by increasing control on upcoming symptoms, enhancing decision- making and quality of life. However, these potential benefits do not come free of ethical concerns. What role, if any, do predictive and advisory functionalities play in either impairing or reinstating a patientís capacity to exercise her/his autonomy? There currently is a gap in our knowledge concerning the consequences of these functionalities on patientsí postoperative life, in particular how it might impact patientsí decision-making as free and autonomous agent. This paper addresses this gap by exploring whether predictive and advisory brain implants are an indispensable feature of autonomy. In order to address this gap in knowledge, the first part of this manuscript explores ethical concerns regarding who is "in control" when patients are experiencing postoperative feelings of "loss of control". Section two examines what could be morally wrong with having predictive and advisory brain system "in control". The third section reports findings resulting from a study we conducted with patients implanted with these novel brain devices. Our conclusion discusses how these findings are evidence that, rather than being a threat, predictive and advisory brain devices are an indispensable feature of autonomy.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Autonomy, Predictive brain devices, Advisory system, epistemic authority,
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Ethical use of new technology
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Ethics
Objective Field:Bioethics
UTAS Author:Gilbert, F (Associate Professor Frederic Gilbert)
ID Code:105048
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE150101390)
Deposited By:Arts, Law and Education
Deposited On:2015-12-03
Last Modified:2016-03-03
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