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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Neurotechnology and the Law: Implants

Considerable issue as Neurotech advances,  Some good examples below and at link.   Including implants for non medical reasons?

Neurotechnology and the Law   By Esther Shein

Communications of the ACM, August 2022, Vol. 65 No. 8, Pages 16-18  10.1145/3542816

As brain implants become more commonplace and may eventually be used for non-medical purposes, some experts believe they must be regulated.

Regulations should be considered "a natural next step," says Rajesh P. N. Rao, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle with a background in computer science, engineering, and computational neuroscience, who earned his Ph.D. in artificial intelligence (AI)/computer vision, and used a postdoctoral scholarship to train in neuroscience.

Eventually, there will be two-way communication between doctors and the devices, with AI as an intermediary, Rao says. "In the future, that kind of device embedded with AI can look at what's happening in other parts of the brain to treat depression or epilepsy and stopping seizures and bridging an injured area of the brain or shaping the brain to be less depressed."

Efforts are under way to further the use of these devices. For example, BrainGate is a U.S.-based multi-institutional research effort to develop and test novel neurotechnology aimed at restoring communication, mobility, and independence. It is geared at people who still have cognitive function, but have lost bodily connection due to paralysis, limb loss, or neurodegenerative disease. BrainGate's partner institutions include Brown, Emory, and Stanford universities, as well as the University of California at Davis, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is working on a robotically implanted brain-computer interface (BCI) system through his company Neuralink, which aims to allow the brain to communicate with a computer. Neuralink is designing what it claims is the first neural implant that would let a user control a computer or mobile device. The approach is to insert micron-scale threads that contain electrodes into the areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread is connected to Neuralink's implant, the Link.

Rao says he is not aware of any brain implants currently being used for augmentative purposes in humans to facilitate better athletic performance or for enhanced gaming skills, but the potential exists. Achieving such improvements will necessitate "much more nuanced regulations," because once that happens, "one has to think about what this device is doing, since it is being used for enhancing the capabilities of people."

Non-invasive devices already are being used to deliver electricity to the brain to improve sports performance, Rao says.  .... ' 

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