Brain-Computer Interfaces, Open Source and Democratizing the Future of Augmented Consciousness

April 14, 2021


Bernal, Guillermo, Sean Montgomery, and Pattie Maes. "Brain-Computer Interfaces, Open Source and Democratizing the Future of Augmented Consciousness." Frontiers in Computer Science 3 (2021): 23.


Accessibility, adaptability, and transparency of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) tools and the data they collect will likely impact how we collectively navigate a new digital age. This discussion reviews some of the diverse and transdisciplinary applications of BCI technology and draws speculative inferences about the ways in which BCI tools, combined with machine learning (ML) algorithms may shape the future. BCIs come with substantial ethical and risk considerations, and it is argued that open source principles may help us navigate complex dilemmas by encouraging experimentation and making developments public as we build safeguards into this new paradigm. Bringing open-source principles of adaptability and transparency to BCI tools can help democratize the technology, permitting more voices to contribute to the conversation of what a BCI-driven future should look like. Open-source BCI tools and access to raw data, in contrast to black-box algorithms and limited access to summary data, are critical facets enabling artists, DIYers, researchers and other domain experts to participate in the conversation about how to study and augment human consciousness. Looking forward to a future in which augmented and virtual reality become integral parts of daily life, BCIs will likely play an increasingly important role in creating closed-loop feedback for generative content. Brain-computer interfaces are uniquely situated to provide artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms the necessary data for determining the decoding and timing of content delivery. The extent to which these algorithms are open-source may be critical to examine them for integrity, implicit bias, and conflicts of interest.

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