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Opportunities and Risks of Brain-Computer Interfaces

20 February 2008 (updated 25 April 2009)

Tired of the mouse? Get ready to control your computer with your thoughts! Later this year, you should be able to buy an EEG headset for only $299. This is, most likely, just the beginning of generally-available brain-computer interfacing technology. In time, we should be able not only to output from our brain, but also input to our brain for applications such as full-immersion virtual reality, accelerated education or national security.

That should scare us a bit, because it will introduce some serious new security and privacy risks. However, for those willing to work to mitigate and carefully take those risks, extraordinary opportunities will present themselves. We would not be where we are today if we had not taken risks. The fact that our civilization is still here is evidence of a degree of communal wisdom and compassion naturally required for surmounting those risks. We’ll have to manage to exhibit yet higher degrees of wisdom and compassion if we are to survive what’s coming.

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