Anticipating the Privacy and Informed Consent issues of the Neurotechnology Era

Posted on November 11, 2015

Photo source: Flickr

Imag­ine that, despite all safety pre­cau­tions, you end up hav­ing a car acci­dent. A hor­ri­ble acci­dent. One that leaves you so much shocked, that you never want to drive again.

Would you want to erase that memory?

Prob­a­bly. But con­sider poten­tial side-effects. First, given how our brains work (“cells that fire together, wire together), more likely than not you would also weaken other asso­ci­ated mem­o­ries. Per­haps you would for­get much about the peo­ple you were dri­ving with, even break­ing the love you felt for your spouse, who was in the car too. Sec­ond, you would be less likely to learn from that expe­ri­ence, as bad as it was, and less likely to drive more care­fully next time.

Instead of eras­ing the mem­ory, you might want to con­sider alter­na­tives. What if going through a few weeks of vir­tual reality-assisted cog­ni­tive ther­apy helps you man­age the anx­i­ety and the trauma, and equips you with a life­long cop­ing skill?

Who should make the deci­sion, and based on what level of knowledge?

We live in excit­ing, trans­for­ma­tional times, but we need to be proac­tive about antic­i­pat­ing and mit­i­gat­ing poten­tial issues, align­ing sci­en­tific inno­va­tion to the inter­ests of indi­vid­u­als liv­ing in the here and now. We need to step back for a sec­ond and ask, How do we max­i­mize the ben­e­fits and min­i­mize the risks?

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Category(s):Other, Values Clarification

Source material from Sharp Brains

Mental Health News