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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v19.i1.80
pages 83-93

Implantable Nano-Neurotechnological Devices: Consideration of Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues and Implications

James Giordano
Generation Research Program, Human Science Center, Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munchen, GER; Department of Neurology and Neuroethics Studies Program, Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC, USA
Rohan Akhouri
Asthma and Allergy Center, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA
Dennis K. McBride
Quantum Leap Incorporated, and Center for Public Policy Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

ABSTRACT

Over the past decades, there has been considerable progress in the capability and application(s) of technology in the neurosciences. The tools of neurotechnology conjoin advances made in other disciplines, including nanoscience, to offer somewhat unique properties and capabilities that affect multiple dimensions of neural systems via implantable devices that afford articulation and manipulation at the subcellular scale. However, while striving for good, it is equally important to regard potential to generate major ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that arise in, and from the study and applications of implantable nano-neurotechnologies. This paper discusses specific properties and uses of various nano-neurotechnologies, and addresses proximate and distal ELSI. We argue that the fusion of nano- and neuroscience and technologies give rise to unique risks and burdens, but posit that a frank precautionary principle might be unrealistic given the demiurge of progress. Rather, we call for a dialectical approach that balances technological incentives with responsibility for inquiry, application, and consequences, and advocate that potential ELSI must be appreciated early and throughout the research and development process.