Unpacking Neuroscience and Neurotechnology - Instructions not Included: Neuroethics Required.
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Using a metaphorical reminiscence upon holiday toys - and the hopes, challenges and possibilities they presented - this essay addresses the ways that the heuristics, outcomes and products of neuroscience have effected change in the human condition, predicament, and being. A note of caution is offered to pragmatically assess what can be done with neurotechnology, what can't, and what should and shouldn't - based upon the capacities and limitations of both the science, and our collective ability to handle knowledge, power and the unknown. This is not an appeal to impede brain research. To the contrary, it is a call to engage neuroethics as a discipline and set of practices 1) to allow a deeper, more finely-grained understanding of brains and their functions in ecological dynamics (that we define as morality and ethics), and 2) to intuit how to engage neuroscientific research and its applications in the social sphere (inclusive of medicine, public life and national agenda), to more accurately perceive how neuroscience is changing human society and the human being, and to instantiate more relevant ethics and laws that are in step with advancing epistemological capital and technological capability.
KeywordsNeuroethics Neurotechnology Morality Policy
This work was written while the author was Fulbright Visiting Professor of Neuroscience, Neurotechnology, and Neuroethics at the Human Science Center-Bad Tölz, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany. The author is grateful to that institution for collegial and administrative support, and for funding from the J.W. Fulbright Program, Center for Neurotechnology Studies of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies; IGERT-Program and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of New Mexico, and the William H. and Ruth Crane Schaefer Endowment (USA), and to Sherry Loveless for her assistance with this manuscript.