‘Unless they do not build cyborgs’ Ethics missing the point of cyborg constitution in neuroscientific trials? (Melike Şahinol, Orient-Institut Istanbul)
Neuroethics discussed several ethical implications for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology, also for Brain Computer/Machine Interfaces (BCI/BMI), as their usage in the medical field raise philosophical and ethical questions. These questions focus on neuroscientific trials or treatment that may concern ethical concepts like informed consent, free will, autonomy, patient rights, privacy and mind-reading (Clausen, 2010; Clausen & Levy, 2014; Müller, Clausen, & Maio, 2009). Broadly discussed is the anthropological figure of the cyborg (Haraway, 1991), linked to futuristic visions of human enhancement, transhumanism, etc. (Chatterjee & Farah, 2012; Downey & Dumit, 1997; Heikkila, 2015; Illes & Sahakian, 2011; Müller, 2010; Pickering, 1995; Schmitz, 2010). These neuroethical studies have often in common, that ethical arguments are less based on ethnographical fieldwork, looking at distributed interactions of human and machine, even at the practices of Neuroscientists in trials with BCI. So, what would it mean for Neuroethics, if the usage of BMI marks the constitution of an acting cyborg?
© EEG equipment, 2010, Şahinol
This paper examines how the constitution of a cyborg emerges within neuroscientific trials with BMI in cronical stroke looking on a micro level and describing, how Human and Machine act in an adaptive way. It does so through a description and an analysis of cyborgical actions within the BMI system. Based on a laboratory study and interviews with several neuro scientists/ surgeons, patient care takers, neuroethicists and patients who worked with BMI, I argue that if something or someone can be understood as a cyborg, his or her actions – within these organic and inorganic parts interact – should be performed circular. Since circularity is the first principle and central concept of cybernetics and actions are based on the circularity of biological and technical aspects, then one can also speak of an acting cyborg (Şahinol, 2016).
As one result of this work, we could rethink Neuroethics underlying ethical concerns with regards to the constitution of acting cyborgs.