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Sunday, November 14, 2021

A brain implant that zaps away negative thoughts

Nicole Karlis
Originally published 14 OCT 21

Here is an excerpt:

Still, the prospect of clinicians manipulating and redirecting one's thoughts, using electricity, raises potential ethical conundrums for researchers — and philosophical conundrums for patients. 

"A person implanted with a closed-loop system to target their depressive episodes could find themselves unable to experience some depressive phenomenology when it is perfectly normal to experience this outcome, such as a funeral," said Frederic Gilbert Ph.D. Senior Lecturer in Ethics at the University of Tasmania, in an email to Salon. "A system program to administer a therapeutic response when detecting a specific biomarker will not capture faithfully the appropriateness of some context; automated invasive systems implanted in the brain might constantly step up in your decision-making . . . as a result, it might compromise you as a freely thinking agent."

Gilbert added there is the potential for misuse — and that raises novel moral questions. 

"There are potential degrees of misuse of some of the neuro-data pumping out of the brain (some believe these neuro-data may be our hidden and secretive thoughts)," Gilbert said. "The possibility of biomarking neuronal activities with AI introduces the plausibility to identify a large range of future applications (e.g. predicting aggressive outburst, addictive impulse, etc). It raises questions about the moral, legal and medical obligations to prevent foreseeable and harmful behaviour."

For these reasons, Gilbert added, it's important "at all costs" to "keep human control in the loop," in both activation and control of one's own neuro-data.