The Human Brain Project
Brain Probes: development of new nano, micro, genetic, optical, and electrical technologies making it possible to study an ever broader range of brain structures and functions in greater depth, and more rapidly than is currently possible.
Ethical, legal and social issues: The HBP (The Human Brain Project) will raise important ethical, legal, social, political and philosophical issues both about the research itself and its potential applications. At the same time, its contributions to knowledge of the brain, cognition and behavior will have important philosophical and conceptual implications touching on basic concepts of what makes us human Against this background, the HBP will include a major program of activities dedicated to ethical, legal and social issues. The program will bring together scholars in the brain sciences, social sciences, and the humani ties to study and discuss relevant issues and will use all available channels to en courage open, well-informed debate, to dissipate potential public concerns and to enhance appreciation of the potential beneﬁts of the project’s work.
Ethical issues involved in hybrid bionicsystems research
“What kind of privacy safeguards are needed if a machine can read your thoughts”?
“Invasive research on humans could involve inhuman or degrading procedures”
“Invasive research on humans could lead to new torture or inhumane punishment techniques”
Will cognition enhancers exacerbate differences between rich and poor? Or, instead, will they relegate social diversity to the status of historical artifact?
What happens if we deduce through neuroimagingthe physiological basis for morality?
Or, and by the way, what happens to free will?” (Scientific American (Editorial), September 2003)
Autonomous behavior of robots: what degree of autonomy should we give to the robot…if uncontrolled robot actions can be dangerous to humans (assistance robotics)
If we wish to deal with cases when the user’s will is “ethically”unacceptable (robots used for military purposes) Are Asimov’s Laws adequate?
Is realistically threatening the possibility of auto-replicating artificial entities?
Ontological status of “cyborgs”and A.I. creatures:
What is machine and what is human?
Who may be re-programmed?
Can we have dissidents in a world of replicants?
Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control
Advances in neuroscience are closer than ever to becoming a reality, but scientists are warning the military – along with their peers – that with great power comes great responsibility
A future of brain-controlled tanks, automated attack drones and mind-reading interrogation techniques may arrive sooner than later, but advances in neuroscience that will usher in a new era of combat come with tough ethical implications for both the military and scientists responsible for the technology, according to one of the country’s leading bioethicists.
“Everybody agrees that conflict will be changed as new technologies are coming on,” says Jonathan Moreno, author ofMind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. “But nobody knows where that technology is going.”
Moreno warns in an essay published in the science journal PLoS Biology Tuesday that the military’s interest in neuroscience advancements “generates a tension in its relationship with science.”
“The goals of national security and the goals of science may conflict. The latter employs rigorous standards of validation in the expansion of knowledge, while the former depends on the most promising deployable solutions for the defense of the nation,” he writes.
Much of neuroscience focuses on returning function to people with traumatic brain injuries, he says. Just as Albert Einstein didn’t know his special theory of relativity could one day be used to create a nuclear weapon, neuroscience researchintended to heal could soon be used to harm.
“Neuroscientists may not consider how their work contributes to warfare,” he adds.
Moreno says there is a fine line between using neuroscience devices to allow an injured person to regain baseline functions and enhancing someone’s body to perform better than their natural body ever could.
“Where one draws that line is not obvious, and how one decides to cross that line is not easy. People will say ‘Why would we want to deny warfighters these advantages?’” he says.
Moreno isn’t the only one thinking about this. The Brookings Institution’s Peter Singer writes in his book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, that “‘the Pentagon’s real-world record with things like the aboveground testing of atomic bombs, Agent Orange, and Gulf War syndrome certainly doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence among the first generation of soldiers involved [in brain enhancementresearch.]”
The military, scientists and ethicists are increasingly wondering how neuroscience technology changes the battlefield. The staggering possibilities are further along than many think. There is already development on automated drones that are programmed to make their own decisions about who to kill within the rules of war. Other ideas that are closer-than-you-think to becoming a military reality: Tanks controlled from half a world away, memory erasures that could prevent PTSD, and “brain fingerprinting” that could be used to extract secrets from enemies.Moreno foretold some of these developments when he first published Mind Wars in 2006, but not without trepidation.
“I was afraid I’d be dismissed as a paranoid schizophrenic when I first published the book,” he says. But then a funny thing happened—the Department of Defense and other military groups began holding panels on neurotechnology to determine how and when it should be used. I was surprised how quickly the policy questions moved forward. Questions like: ‘Can we use autonomous attack drones?’ ‘Must there be a human being in the vehicle?’ ‘How much of a payload can it have?’. There are real questions coming up in the international legal community.”
All of those questions will have to be answered sooner than later, Moreno says, along with a host of others. Should soldiers have the right to refuse “experimental” brain implants? Will the military want to use some of this technology before science deems it safe?
“There’s a tremendous tension about this,” he says. “There’s a great feeling of responsibility that we push this stuff out so we’re ahead of our adversaries.