Managing the Ethical Dimensions of Brain-Computer Interfaces in eHealth: An SDLC-based Approach

Gladden, Matthew E. “Managing the Ethical Dimensions of Brain-Computer Interfaces in eHealth: An SDLC-based Approach.” In 9th Annual EuroMed Academy of Business (EMAB) Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 876-90. Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016.

Abstract. A growing range of brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies is being employed for purposes of therapy and human augmentation. While much thought has been given to the ethical implications of such technologies at the ‘macro’ level of social policy and ‘micro’ level of individual users, little attention has been given to the unique ethical issues that arise during the process of incorporating BCIs into eHealth ecosystems. In this text a conceptual framework is developed that enables the operators of eHealth ecosystems to manage the ethical components of such processes in a more comprehensive and systematic way than has previously been possible. The framework’s first axis defines five ethical dimensions that must be successfully addressed by eHealth ecosystems: 1) beneficence; 2) consent; 3) privacy; 4) equity; and 5) liability. The second axis describes five stages of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) process whereby new technology is incorporated into an eHealth ecosystem: 1) analysis and planning; 2) design, development, and acquisition; 3) integration and activation; 4) operation and maintenance; and 5) disposal. Known ethical issues relating to the deployment of BCIs are mapped onto this matrix in order to demonstrate how it can be employed by the managers of eHealth ecosystems as a tool for fulfilling ethical requirements established by regulatory standards or stakeholders’ expectations. Beyond its immediate application in the case of BCIs, we suggest that this framework may also be utilized beneficially when incorporating other innovative forms of information and communications technology (ICT) into eHealth ecosystems.