In the future, companies may use brain-monitoring technology to monitor and hire workers, according to data watchdogs.

But there is a real risk of discrimination if "neurotechnology" is not properly developed and used, says the Information Commissioner's Office.

Tech Futures: Neurotechnology is the first ICO report on "neurodata", the data of the brain and nervous system.

Workplace monitoring is one of the hypotheses for future applications of neurotechnology considered in the report.

Companies like Elon Musk's Neuralink are looking for new ways to connect computers to the human brain.

Cycling accident

ICO's Stephen Almond told BBC News: "Based on all the metrics we're looking at, we're seeing fairly rapid growth in both investments and patents being developed in this space." Told.

According to ICO, Neurotech is already being used in highly regulated medical settings.

Gert Jan Oskam, who was paralyzed in a bicycle accident 12 years ago, has been able to walk again after having an electronic implant in his brain.

And there's also a growing commercial interest in technology.

Neuralink has received human clinical trial approval for its implantable brain-computer interface, which, while far from being a commercial product, is now reportedly worth US$5 billion (£4 billion).

Workplace stress

Artificial intelligence also brings new possibilities. In research projects, it is now possible to decipher sentences and words from brain scans alone. This could ultimately help patients with locked-in syndrome who are conscious but unable to move or speak.

However, this report focuses on technologies that may emerge in the future and uses them as hypothetical examples to examine the problems posed by neural data.

ICO suggests that in four to five years “as employee tracking grows, workplaces may routinely adopt neurotechnology for safety, productivity and recruitment.” I'm here.

And managers can use this to assess how individuals are responding to workplace stress, Almond said.

In the long term, portable brain monitors may be used in educational settings to measure student concentration and stress levels.

"Neuromarketing" is already in limited use in small, controlled research settings to assess consumer response to products, including medical devices that measure brain activity, but the benefits are limited. There is considerable debate

in the future, the ICO said, "non-marketing" "Intrusive devices that can read responses can be used in homes to customize consumer preferences." I'm here.

In a decidedly outlandish example, the report hypothesizes that neurotechnology-enabled headphones could in the future collect data that could be used for targeted advertising.

Gaming and entertainment are also growing, and some games and drones already have devices that take brain measurements.

However, the ICO is concerned that this technology could lead to discrimination if not developed carefully.

Tricky questions

Almond said the technology itself can be biased and give wrong answers when analyzing specific groups.

But there was also the risk that superiors would use it to discriminate against "certain types of more neurobifurcated traits."

Can reveal states of which the subject himself was unaware.

And that raised the difficult question of consent. According to the report, neural data is generated unconsciously and people have no direct control over the specific information that is exposed.

"If you don't know what technology will reveal about you, can you really consent to the processing of personal data about you in advance?" said Almond. “Because once it goes public, you have relatively little control over it.”
ICO hopes to finalize new guidelines on neural data by 2025.

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