Cheating with Implants: Implications of the Hidden Information Advantage of Bionic Ears and Eyes
TECHNOLOGIES ON THE STAND - LEGAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS IN NEUROSCIENCE AND ROBOTICS, pp. 195-214, Bibi Van den Berg, Laura Klaming, eds., Wolf Legal Publishers, 2011
20 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012
Date Written: March 11, 2011
Medical technology advances rapidly. As of 2009, about 188.000 people worldwide had received cochlear implants, and promising trials have been conducted with retinal and subretinal implants. These devices are meant to (partially) repair deaf and blind people’s impairments, allowing them to (re)gain ‘normal’ sensory perception. These medical devices are ICT-based and consist of a sensor that transforms sensory data (auditory, visual, tactile) into signals that can be processed by the brain. Besides data from the regular sensors, in principle, also other data from other sources can be channeled to the brain through the implant, for example wireless data input from distant locations or even the Internet to prompt the bearer with instructions or information. This can be done without others present being aware of this form of techno-prompting, which might give the bionic person a competitive advantage in for instance meetings or negotiations. The medical implants could therefore be used for non-medical purposes somewhere in the future. This paper discusses the normative implications of this hypothetical form of human enhancement, focusing on aspects that are particularly relevant to this type of enhancement as compared to existing and well-discussed other forms of enhancement. In particular, we discuss information asymmetries, ethical aspects related to human enhancement, and some legal issues where the information advantage of bionic sensory implants could make a difference. Based on this discussion, we highlight questions for further reflection and provide some suggestions for the regulatory response to address the challenges posed by the future of bionic sensory implants.
Keywords: uman implants, neural prosthetics, information asymmetry, human enhancement
JEL Classification: K10, L50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation