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UW-Led Philosophy Team Receives $1.5M Grant to Study the Ethics of Neurotechnology Research

By December 4, 2018No Comments

Brain-computer interfaces have the potential to give patients better and more natural control over their prosthetic devices. Through this method, a chip in a patient’s brain picks up a thought — neural activity triggered by focusing on specific visual imagery — to move a joint and then transmits that signal to the prosthetic.

This technology is not widely available yet, but as it progresses through research trials, ethical questions are emerging about users’ sense of control over their own actions. For example: Who is responsible if a prosthetic limb malfunctions and strikes someone in a crowd — the patient or the device?

To address these types of questions, University of Washington researchers in the Center for Neurotechnology are studying how brain-computer interfaces affect whether patients feel they are in charge of their own actions. For this research, the team will receive $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health over the next four years.