Developments in Brain-Computer Interface technology open up a new world of possibilities in advancements in modern medicine. It is already possible for a person to control a robotic arm using only their brainwaves read through a headset. Although this technology is only rudimentary at this stage in development, further research will only hold better models for the future.
However, robotic limbs only scratch the surface of BCI’s potential in society’s future. Current technologies also include devices that allow hearing for the deaf, and can grant some sight to the blind. Although it seems like any use of this technology for medical purposes is innovative, some of the uses spark ethical debate about whether or not they should be implemented to the public. For instance, although it is already possible to severely diminish deafness with cochlear implants, many members of the deaf community do not see a need to hear, and accept it as a form of culture, more than a handicap. On the other hand, nearly the entire blind community supports innovation with sight prosthesis Furthermore, research in BCI technologies has been directed towards “curing” psychiatric conditions, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which could easily be considered a personality trait before a disability. An issue that seems to arise often is the differences between medical and societal definitions of illnesses or disabilities.
With all of the research and development going towards making BCI a major medical tool of the future, at some point the ethics of each use, and their impact on society must be considered. In this section we will explore some medical possibilities of BCI using cochlear implants, psychiatric disorders, and locked-in syndrome as specific examples.
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