Neuroscientific findings increase capabilities to access, assess and affect thought, emotion and behaviour. Research and development is primarily directed towards clinical use, but sometimes the research findings can also have implications in the political, security, intelligence and military domains. 

Current and newly emerging insights and technologies arising from research in brain sciences increase capabilities to access, assess and affect thought, emotion and behaviour. While much of this research and development is directed towards clinical use, it also has applications in other settings, notably in the political, security, intelligence and military (PSIM) domains. This is often referred to in terms of "Dual Use". Many of these potential uses raise important social and ethical questions which demand the attention of all those involved in the research, administration, management and regulation of neuroscience research and related technological developments, including those in information and communication technologies (ICT) and robotics.

For this reason, the Ethics and Society SGA2 Sub-Project of the Human Brain Project has developed an "Opinion on ‘Responsible Dual Use". Political, Security, Intelligence and Military Research of Concern in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology’.

In this Opinion, we suggest that we can increase our ability to identify which programmes and projects of research, development and innovation are ‘of concern’ by applying the framework of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) to distinguish between "responsible" and "irresponsible" systems of research and technological development. We therefore use the term "dual use research of concern" (DURC) to refer to neuroscience research and technological innovations, and brain-inspired developments in information and communication technologies, for use in the political, security, intelligence and military domains, which are either directly of concern because of their potential for use in ways that threaten the peace, health, safety, security and well-being of citizens, or are undertaken without responsible regard to such potential uses.

To ensure ongoing attention to these issues, the Opinion proposes recommendations for the Human Brain Project, the European Union and the wider neuroscience and ICT community. As a follow-up to the Opinion, the HBP Dual Use Working Group develops and implements actions in collaboration with Ethics Rapporteur ProgrammeHBP Education ProgrammeData Governance Working Group and others. 

Ethics experts have positively evaluated HBP dual use activities as "a first promising step in the direction of awareness-enhancing strategies" (Ienca et al. Neuron 97 (2) 269-274 (2018)). 

Dual Use Activities & Resources

The HBP has undertaken a broad range of activities to reflect on potential dual use of concern and misuse issues including:

Anyone can request to address ethical, regulatory and social issues raised by HBP research.

Register an Ethical Concern

Important Publications

Experimentation, learning, and dialogue: an RRI-inspired approach to dual-use of concern

Inga Ulnicane, Tara Mahfoud, Arleen Salles

Journal of Responsible Innovation 2022-07-18
Ethical and Social Aspects of Neurorobotics

Christine Aicardi, Simisola Akintoye, B. Tyr Fothergill, Manuel Guerrero, Gudrun Klinker, William Knight, Lars Klüver, Yannick Morel, Fabrice O. Morin, Bernd Carsten Stahl, Inga Ulnicane

Science and Engineering Ethics 2020-07-22
The governance of dual-use research in the EU: The case of neuroscience

Inga Ulnicane

Emerging Security Technologies and EU Governance: Actors, Practices, and Processes 2020-06-10

Dual Use Working Group

We pay attention to dual use issues in the Human Brain Project, the EU and the wider neuroscience & ICT Community.

Inga Ulnicane

Manuel Guerrero

Douglas Armstrong

Marta Corradini

Francesca Cavallaro

Damien Depannemaecker

Judith Kathrein

Björn Kindler

George Ogoh

Boris Orth

Michele Farisco

Tonii Leach

Annemieke Michels

Bárbara Gasset

Andrew Rowley


Wim Vanduffel

Ethics & Society Training Resources

We have developed training resources that cover a wide range of issues in data governance, responsible research and innovation, and neuroethics.

Our training modules provide tools and methods for foresight, as well as critical and philosophical reflection.

Introduction to Responsible Research & Innovation in HBP Human & Animal Data in EBRAINS Gender, Diversity & Inclusion Researcher Awareness & Integrity Dual Use of Concern & Misuse Knowledge Transfer & Commercialization Neuroethics, Consciousness & AI Ethics Foresight & Public Engagement Science Communication

More Ethics & RRI 

The Human Brain Project will have an impact on both science and society.

We promote RRI practices within the HBP, and help to shape the direction of its research in ethically sound ways that serve the public interest. 

Learn about Ethics & RRI in the HBP!