Experimental Usage of AI Brain-Computer Interfaces: Computerized Errors, Side-Effects, and Alteration of Personality

  • Ian Stevens
  • Frédéric GilbertEmail author
Part of the Military and Humanitarian Health Ethics book series (MHHE)


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently funding experimental trials testing in human novel medical brain implants operated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The purpose of this chapter is to explore some ethical issues related to the experimental use of these invasive AI-controlled brain devices, in particular, deleterious phenomenological effects these devices may have on a patient’s personality and/or sense of self (i.e. patients suffering from postoperative self-estrangement despite symptom reductions). The evolution of these devices from open-looped stimulation to closed-loop personalized AI-controlled stimulation raises many safety concerns that may exacerbate these ethical issues. This new AI-controlled approach is unlike previous open-loop methods (i.e. traditional deep brain stimulation); the AI-tailored made frequency stimulation schedule depends on the computational measurement of patients’ brain states which fluctuates from patient to patient. Hence no universal safety standard and the potential for computational error resulting in plausible deleterious effects on a patient’s personality. The aim of this chapter is to explore how closed-loop stimulation undermines safety standards and results in skewed risk assessments for complex phenomenon such as a patient’s personality, but as well autonomy.



Frederic Gilbert is supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council (DECRA award Project Number DE150101390).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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