The advances in some areas of the human brain sciences and the possible threats for the future became apparent to Ellen M. McGee and Gerald Q. Maguire already in 1999. They talked about ear- and eye implants but also about more advanced implants and sensors in the environment able to spy on the human being and to control behavior and the human mind. The same ethical questions arising then are still very important today.
Since 1999, the progresses in implant technology happened very fast. It is possible today to connect a human brain to a computer, creating today’s cyborgs.
Technical innovation, scientists claim, are neither good nor bad, but how it is used and the moral and ethical consequences arising from the use of the technology in unethical ways can constitute a threat. Today, the technology and its applications are still completely or partially unregulated. There are still no laws that admit, recognize or regulate how and to what extent human brain functions can or cannot be altered, leaving a very open and huge range of possibilities for anyone that has its hands on this tech to use it – even when tested on people with more normal implants, like cochlear implants, eye implants or pace makers.
Because the brain chips are such a huge research area right now and because so many kinds already are developed, is it important that already today, formulate strategies and directions that might be able to at least diminish some of the consequences of this technology and eliminate abuses. Implanting this technology in the human body without knowledge or consent, must be prohibited.
Soon enough, the technology will be widespread enough to be used in normal medicine in the form of for example nanotechnology or parts of vaccination against viruses of any kind. The human being subjected must be informed and humanity must know what the technology is capable of.
Paradoxically enough, the brain implant technology is getting too little or no attention or ethical debate. At the same time, the potential of this technology to affect human beings and change them is huge. The threat of the implantation technology is in fact greater then genetic changes or enhancements. Genetic changes are very much limited of the human biology. Creating human-machine hybrids doesn’t have the same limitations. A computer connected to a human brain can share information at a distance. The potential for computer-chips implanted into the human brain to change humanity is far greater.
ELLEN M. McGEE and GERALD Q. MAGUIRE (2007). Becoming Borg to Become Immortal: Regulating Brain Implant Technologies. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 16 , pp 291-302 doi:10.1017/S0963180107070326