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 Programme, HBP Education Programme, Data 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 address dual use issues including:
- Public engagement activities to explore citizens’ perspectives through
- Expert seminar Dual use, future computing, neurorobotics and the Human Brain Project
- Seminar on Dual Use and Research Policy with experts and policy-makers in Brussels
- Webinars on Dual Use and Neuroscience
- Researcher Awareness workshops on dual use in the HBP
- Identification of dual use issues in the HBP in the framework of Ethics Support and Ethics Rapporteur Programme
- Education activities on dual use including workshops and team-based learning exercises
- Research on dual use leading to presentations at international scientific events, reports and scientific publications such as recent article on the limits of dual use
- Awareness raising on dual use within the HBP including talks and posters at the events such as HBP Open Day and Summit, workshop on Ethics and Neurorobotics and blog posts
- Presentation by Inga Ulnicane on addressing dual-use research of concern in neuroscience and neurotechnology
- Introduction by Manuel Guerrero on dealing with responsible research & dual use in the Human Brain Project
Anyone can request to address ethical, regulatory and social issues raised by HBP research.Register an Ethical Concern
Christine Aicardi, Simisola Akintoye, B. Tyr Fothergill, Manuel Guerrero, Gudrun Klinker, William Knight, Lars Klüver, Yannick Morel, Fabrice O. Morin, Bernd Carsten Stahl, Inga UlnicaneScience and Engineering Ethics 2020-07-22
Inga UlnicaneEmerging Security Technologies and EU Governance: Actors, Practices, and Processes 2020-06-10
Mahfoud, Tara, Christine Aicardi, Saheli Datta, and Nikolas RoseIssues in Science and Technology 34 (4, Summer 2018) 2018-08-01
Dual Use Working Group
We pay attention to dual use issues, in the Human Brain Project, the EU and the wider neuroscience & ICT Community.
If you have any questions about dual use or misuse issues in the HBP, please contact the Chair and Co-chair of the Dual Use Working Group. Alternatively, you can submit your questions via the HBP Point of Registration of Ethical Concerns.
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.