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 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.
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 PORE.
HBP 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 online consultation and workshops
- 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, lectures 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
Ethics experts have positively evaluated HBP dual use activities as "a first promising step in the direction of awareness-enhancing strategies" (Ienca et al 2018: 273).
Scientific Publications (Selection)
Ulnicane, I (2020) Governance of Dual Use Research in the EU: The Case of Neuroscience. In Emerging Security Technologies and EU Governance: Actors, Practices and Processes, edited by Antonio Calcara, Raluca Csernatoni, and Chantal Lavalée, 177-191. Routledge
Aicardi, C, S Akintoye, T Fothergill, M Guerrero, G Klinker, W Knight, L Klüver, Y Morel, F Morin, BC Stahl & I Ulnicane (2020) Ethical and Social Aspects of Neurorobotics. Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (5): 2533-2546 https://doi.org/10.1007/<wbr/>s11948-020-00248-8
Mahfoud T, C Aicardi, S Datta & N Rose (2018) The Limits of Dual Use. Issues in Science and Technology, July 31, 2018.
Dual Use Working Group
Register an Ethical Concern
Anyone can requests to address ethical, regulatory and social issues in Human Brain Project research. The POint of REgistration (PORE) is HBP’s mechanism to register and identify these issues and keep track of how they are dealt with.