China sets its sights on human brain-computer interface standards – Computerworld

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Ethics to play a key role

While many technology standards efforts focus on interoperability, stewards for technologies such as AI and brain-computer interfaces — which push the boundaries of human-machine interaction — have a more pressing set of concerns, noted Brad Shimmin, chief analyst, AI & Data Analytics at Omdia. China’s new committee and groups such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in the US that seek to clarify these emerging standards will need to put ethical and safety considerations at the forefront of their agendas, he said.

“These organizations will be tasked with the difficult task of providing ethical guidance, providing a sustainable foundation upon which innovators can build solutions, as well as placing constraints on research and experimentation,” Shimmin said. “Such efforts can help to accelerate innovation while also ensuring that funded research conforms to the current socio-political expectations of the host country.”

Even with standards bodies such as the IEEE, the United States has historically encouraged aggressive research and experimentation with new technologies — up to a point, Shimmin noted. In the US, for example, Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink is currently in human trials with its surgically implanted brain chip, though it hit a snag this week when the second patient who was to receive the chip bowed out for medical reasons. As these trials evolve, however, organizations like the National Institutes of Health will continue to collaborate with lawmakers so they can step in to limit potentially dangerous research, he said.

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