In a paper published in the journal Neuron this month, neuroethicists outline four ways that neurotechnology companies marketing wearable brain devices to consumers claim that their products positively enhance users' cognitive abilities and overall individual well-being.
Despite these promising claims, to date there has been very little research into the effectiveness, benefit, and safety of similar direct-to-consumer brain devices. This is particularly concerning since individuals might resort to these wearable neurotechnologies instead of seeking necessary medical care. This is even more problematic in the case of children, where we are not able to predict the effects of those devices on their brain development. What can be done?
The authors suggest that these companies should highlight the negative side-effects of the marketed brain devices in a more ethical and sensitive way. One way to achieve this could be through the addition of a warning label communicating the potential side-effects as well as the fact that there could be other unforeseen negative health consequences to the purchaser. And when it comes to data privacy? We should definitely start asking those questions.