One of our Principal Investigators – Dr Hannah Maslen, who leads our work package on Ethics, Impacts and Society – presented the Consortium’s current research at the Neuroethics Network Annual Meeting, held at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière (ICM), Hospital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris (19th-21st June, 2017).

Dr Maslen presented an overview of the Project’s aims, and discussed some of the philosophical and ethical questions that her work package is currently exploring. These questions included:

  • – how the mode of communication that the neuroprosthetic device enables should be conceptualized;
  • – how intentional covert speech can be distinguished from other forms of inner speech, such as unintended thoughts with linguistic structure; and
  • – how clinicians should approach patient consent and decision-making in cases where the expression of preferences and wishes is entirely mediated by a BCI.

The presentation generated a lot of very interesting discussion, both about the technical details of proposed neuroprosthetic devices for speech, and about the philosophical and ethical questions raised by their research and clinical
application. Dr Maslen is grateful for the comments and questions received.