When Neuro Meets Nano: NBIC
In Think nano has ethical problems? Just wrap your brain around neuro, blogger ritalamchichi draws an interesting parallel between fears and ethical issues surrounding nanotechnology to those about the still emerging field of neurotechnology. Ritalamchichi reports from the NBIC (Nano, Bio, Info, Cogno) conference in New York:
My goal was to explore the political and economic issues that might arise as these converging technologies make possible neurotechnology — tools that can influence the brain.
In short, when data from nanobiochips that can analyze DNA, RNA and proteins is combined with data from next-generation brain imaging systems (IC), new tools for mental health will emerge. Nanobiochips that can perform the basic bioanalysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and production in a very similar fashion as the microprocessor did for data.
The NBIC thesis is that the seemingly diverse fields of nanotechnology, biology, information technology, and cognitive science are headed toward convergence. (I wonder if they thought of reordering the acronym to a more pronounceable “BINC”? I suppose that would take the emphasis off “nano”, though, which is clearly the integrating force.)
Some of the ethical issues raised in the post are well covered in The Ethical Brain, but it’s an interesting read as it comes at topics like neuromarketing and neuroethics from quite a different perspective.