Developer perspectives on the ethics of AI-driven neural implants: a qualitative study

Odile C. van Stuijvenberg*, Marike L.D. Broekman, Samantha E.C. Wolff, Annelien L. Bredenoord, Karin R. Jongsma

*Corresponding author for this work

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Convergence of neural implants with artificial intelligence (AI) presents opportunities for the development of novel neural implants and improvement of existing neurotechnologies. While such technological innovation carries great promise for the restoration of neurological functions, they also raise ethical challenges. Developers of AI-driven neural implants possess valuable knowledge on the possibilities, limitations and challenges raised by these innovations; yet their perspectives are underrepresented in academic literature. This study aims to explore perspectives of developers of neurotechnology to outline ethical implications of three AI-driven neural implants: a cochlear implant, a visual neural implant, and a motor intention decoding speech-brain-computer-interface. We conducted semi-structured focus groups with developers (n = 19) of AI-driven neural implants. Respondents shared ethically relevant considerations about AI-driven neural implants that we clustered into three themes: (1) design aspects; (2) challenges in clinical trials; (3) impact on users and society. Developers considered accuracy and reliability of AI-driven neural implants conditional for users’ safety, authenticity, and mental privacy. These needs were magnified by the convergence with AI. Yet, the need for accuracy and reliability may also conflict with potential benefits of AI in terms of efficiency and complex data interpretation. We discuss strategies to mitigate these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7880
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2024

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