BCI Technology, like any new innovation, will have multiple contexts that affect how it is accepted and implemented in society. Our modern historical, social, and technological status changes the way people see these systems, and therefore change what they are being developed for. As a species we can currently recognize that we are making the decisions that will change the future, and how people look back on the past; this is why our research on BCI is so significant.
When computers were first invented, they were not intended for the average person. Computers were accompanied by a science that had to be learned if someone wanted to use them. Much of this was due to the complexity of computer systems, but also societal fear of the autonomy that comes with them. Currently, technology is finally at a point where it is common for nearly every person to have a basic knowledge of how to use a computer. Even the youngest generations are taught with computers in school, and raised to know how to preform multiple tasks on them. It is safe to say, that computers have finally been completely accepted by society, but now Brain-Computer Interfaces raise the same issues.
We are at the time where BCI technology is just starting to become less of an idea, and more of a reality. Like computers, it is expected that society will initially fear this technology due to its implied autonomy. These computer systems promote post-humanistic behavior and suggest the idea of bionic people that no longer have emotions and are effectively living robots. Every debate about BCI technology must consider the counter-factual that comes with each decision. That is, for every decision made regarding the development of BCI technology, people should consider what would happen had it not been. It may be impossible to know how decisions we make today will affect the future, but by understanding how society has always responded to technology in the past, it can help us understand how to act in the present.
Although many people in society fear some of the implications of Brain-Computer Interfaces, there are still many that support and pursue their development. They recognize the good that can come out of the implementation of these technologies in medical fields and support it for the greater good. Even though every new innovation in the world of technology comes with negative effects, proponents of BCI technology believe that the positive results will be enough to justify its possible negative consequences.
Furthermore, with technological determinism, is it even possible to prevent BCI from being developed? With so many different forms of the technology, it would be hard to put a stop to the progress that has already been made. Although BCI technology is not at the point where it is commonplace in society, a large portion of the population, including the engineers working on it, is aware of its existence. At this point, it would be difficult to implement a policy that would prevent Brain-Computer Interface technology from being developed, but if it were possible, would that interfere with society’s freedoms?