Questions for “New technology can get inside your head. Are you ready??

illustration of scientists observing thought bubbles from a brain

The idea of letting outsiders inside the mind sparks a slew of ethical and privacy questions.

Julia Yellow

To accompany feature “New technology can get inside your head? Are we ready?


Before Reading:

1. Imagine a technology came along that could read your mind. How would that make you feel? Explain why.

2. Bioengineers have developed several types of devices to be implanted in the human body. Name at least two types. What do they do?

During Reading:

1.  What did the beeps tell researchers about Gertrude the pig?

2.  What does a neuroscientist do?

3.  What are brain-computer interfaces? What can they allow people to do?

4.  What can the Kernel helmet do?

5.  Tech already exists to help people with epilepsy. According to the story, what can such devices do?

6.  Rafael Yuste says optogenetics have been used to do what with mouse brains?

7.  Anna Wexler and others point to some types of information about themselves that people already are comfortable sharing. Give three examples.

8.  Rafael Yuste would like to see the use of brain data regulated. He compares those data to someone’s organs. What type of comparison does he make? Do you find it reasonable?

9.  Marcello Ienca says “The human brain is becoming a new asset.” What does he mean by that?

10. Karen Rommelfanger is part of a team that proposed five questions. What do they deal with?

After Reading:

1.  Imaging a company wanted to read your thoughts and collect them for use in its research. Would you agree to let them? Why? Would it make a difference if they were willing to pay you for them or to give you some product in return?

2.  Many of the experts interviewed for this story work in the field of ethics. Why is ethics important? Come up with another issue, one that is important to you, for which there are ethical questions. Give at least two questions about that issue for which you think people should find answers or develop guidelines. (If you’re stumped, here’s an idea: Did the coronavirus pandemic raise ethical issues for you, your family or your community?)