Articles  |    |  August 17, 2011

The Asilomar Survey: Stakeholders’ Opinions on Ethical Issues Related to Brain-Computer Interfacing

Article by Femke Nijboer, Jens Clausen, Brendan Z. Allison and Pim Haselager.
Published in Neuroethics.


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) research and (future) applications raise important ethical issues that need to be addressed to promote societal acceptance and adequate policies. Here we report on a survey we conducted among 145 BCI researchers at the 4th International BCI conference, which took place in May–June 2010 in Asilomar, California. We assessed respondents’ opinions about a number of topics. First, we investigated preferences for terminology and definitions relating to BCIs. Second, we assessed respondents’ expectations on the marketability of different BCI applications (BCIs for healthy people, BCIs for assistive technology, BCIs-controlled neuroprostheses and BCIs as therapy tools). Third, we investigated opinions about ethical issues related to BCI research for the development of assistive technology: informed consent process with locked-in patients, risk-benefit analyses, team responsibility, consequences of BCI on patients’ and families’ lives, liability and personal identity and interaction with the media. Finally, we asked respondents which issues are urgent in BCI research.