Emerging Technologies

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Velloso, Gabriel T. "Brain-Computer Interface (BCI): a methodological proposal to assess the impacts of medical applications in 2022." Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies 8 (2012): 57-81. AbstractWebsite

Technology assessment is essentially an approach, a collective of the systematic methods used to scientifically investigate the conditions for and the consequences of technology and technicising and to denote their societal evaluation. It is an investigation about the technological developments as well as an evaluation of its potential impacts on society. The assessment of emerging technologies, however, requires special attention. Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is an emerging technology which allows for the direct communication between the brain and an external device. It is a truly direct connection, with no use of the normal output pathways of peripheral nerves and muscles, allowing for the brain to have control over objects and software without intermediates. To address these kinds of technologies at early stages of development, Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA), a member of Technology Assessment approaches, has been considered as one of the most fitting approaches. As an emerging technology, BCI is at its early stages of research and thus many challenges are still ahead. Mainstream adoption is not expected in least 10 years many challenges are yet to be overcome. Therefore, the objective of this article is to discuss and present a methodological approach to assess brain-computer interface technology considering constructive technology assessment and future oriented technology analysis as the main processes to undertake the assessment. The assessment will focus only on the non-invasive type of BCI and for medical applications in three defined areas: Communication & Control, Motor Substitution and Motor Recovery for a time horizon of 10 years, 2022. These areas were chosen based on the capability of BCI to serve as a replacement of normal neuromuscular pathways. That makes it one of the best technologies to help people in activating and controlling assistive technologies which enable communication and control of the environment. However, the real impacts of BCI will depend directly on the development of competing technologies, and also on the improvement in BCI research. Only then, the potential applications and end users could grow dramatically.