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

See all articles by Bert-Jaap Koops

Bert-Jaap Koops

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

Ronald E. Leenes

Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society; Tilburg Law School; Tilburg University

Date Written: March 11, 2011

Abstract

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

Koops, Bert-Jaap and Leenes, Ronald E., Cheating with Implants: Implications of the Hidden Information Advantage of Bionic Ears and Eyes (March 11, 2011). 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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2182443

Bert-Jaap Koops (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037
Netherlands

Ronald E. Leenes

Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society

NL-5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands

Tilburg Law School ( email )

Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

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