Bridging Present and Future of Brain-Computer Interfaces: An Assessment of Impacts
Technology assessment is essentially a systematic method used to investigate technology developments and assess their potential impacts on society. The assessment of emerging technologies, however, requires special attention. To address technologies at early stages of development, Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA) is considered to be one of the best options to bypass the Collingridge dilemma - which fundamentally states that controlling the direction of a technology’s development is very hard. Technologies at early stages of development might appear to be unorganized, chaotic and with high level of uncertainty on future paths to take. Future Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA) represents any systematic process to produce judgments about the characteristics of emerging technologies, its development pathways, and potential future impacts. Technology Assessment is considered to be one of three subjects which form the umbrella concept of FTA. The technology assessed on this project, Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) or Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) is an emerging technology. BCIs can be defined as a technology which allows for the direct communication between the brain and an external device. It is a truly direct connection, with no use of the normal output pathways of peripheral nerves and muscles, allowing for the brain to have control over objects and softwares without intermediates. As an emerging technology, BCI is at its early stages of research and thus many challenges are still ahead. Mainstream adoption is not expected in least 10 years. There are still many problems and challenges to be overcome. The real impacts of BCI will depend directly on the development of competing technologies. If there is improvement in BCI research, then the potential applications and end users could grow dramatically. The findings of this project will be of relevant importance to researchers of the technology (especially on what concerns their interactions with other stakeholders), regulatory agencies (which establish policies for safe use of technologies) as well as for companies investing in BCI (especially on what concerns how can they shape the development of BCIs).
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