ognizant Communication Corporation

A Journal of Science Serving Legislative, Regulatory, and Judicial Systems
Human Advancement · Environmental Protection  · Industrial Development

Volume 11 - 1

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Promises and Perils of Cognitive Performance Tools: A Dialogue

Erik Viirre
Departments of Surgery and Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, California

Françoise Baylis
Departments of Bioethics and Philosophy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Jocelyn Downie
Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Cognitive performance tools are evolving and their application is expanding rapidly. Although these tools promise significant advantages, they also raise a number of significant ethical and social concerns. This paper first provides an overview of various cognitive performance tools. Subsequently, there is a dialogue between Viirre on the one hand and Baylis and Downie on the other. Together, they explore the promises and perils of cognitive performance tools available now, or in the near future (perhaps within the next ten to twenty years). The authors conclude there are potential benefits with the development and use of cognitive performance tools. Care must be taken, however, with respect to the ways in which such tools may not serve the interests of individuals and communities.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Planning for Performance Enhancement Technologies: Research Method, Trends, and Forecasts

William E. Halal
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

A poorly-understood "Technology Revolution" is underway that is expected to create breakthroughs in all fields of science over the next 20 years or so. This study focuses on how to plan for this coming wave of technological change, with a particular focus on "performance enhancing technologies" using speech recognition, artificial intelligence, speech synthesis, wireless, virtual displays, and thought power. A case study is used (the TechCast Project) to describe how "online research systems" can be used to pool knowledge, and we argue that this approach represents a superior methodology for technology forecasting. Trends are then identified for performance enhancing technologies, and forecasts indicate an "intelligent interface" is likely in about 2010-2015. Although this should prove more powerful in aiding human performance, it will also incur its own drawbacks as well. Based on this information, it is concluded that online research systems today offer a sophisticated approach to planning and managing emerging technologies.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Ethical Issues in Performance Enhancing Technologies: From Bench to Headline

Eric Racine
Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), Montreal, Quebec

Donald DuRousseau
Human Bionics LLC, Purcellville, Virginia

Judy Illes
Department of Pediatrics (Medical Genetics), Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Palo Alto, California

Neuroscience research creates challenges for policy-making and bioethics that build on the distinctive nature of the brain and the ethical implications of major interventions to it. Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMIs) in particular have sparked neuroethics debates on enhancement of normal human function and on consent in vulnerable populations. Print media represents an important avenue of information for the public as well as a forum in which these ethical issues related to neuroscience are raised and debated. This study investigates the process of science communication and the press coverage for a highly-publicized study in Nature of remote-controlled animal navigation involving Brain-Machine Interfaces (Talwar et al. 2002). This paper catalyzed contemporary discussions regarding the ethics of brain-machine interfaces. Methods included sampling of international print media coverage for this Nature paper using several keyword searches in the Lexis-Nexis Academic database. Analysis of print media article content based on prior validation and reliability assessments. Main outcome measures included: type of article (journalist reports, newswire/press agency, editorials and columns); item of content in the lead paragraph; source of quotations in the article (research team, independent researcher, ethicist/lawyer, interest group, policy-maker); items of content reported in the article; benefits reported; ethical issues raised; and overall tone (optimistic, balanced, critical, neutral). Most stories (91%; N=39/43) were published within two weeks of the original scientific report. The investigators were quoted in 93% of the articles but a significant number of other actors (N=28) including researchers not involved in the study, ethicists, lawyers and interest groups provided commentary. The headlines of the articles emphasized the remote control characteristics of the rats (40%; N=17/43) and their potential for military rescue operation (47%; N=20/43). 91% (N=39/43) of the articles had a lead paragraph that emphasized these two combined items of content. Ethical issues were featured in 74% of articles (N=32/43). Animal rights (60%; N=26/43) and the potential for Brain-Machine Interfaces to become mind-control technologies (42%; N=18/43) were the two most frequent ethical concerns in print media. The majority of articles were balanced (68%; N=29/43), i.e., discussed the benefits and issues related to this study. Results of this study support the view that science communication is a complicated process involving multiple stakeholders and perspectives. Brain-Machine Interface research in particular can lead to controversial news coverage and ethics debate. Increased public involvement and open deliberation will promote neuroethics discussions and public understanding of Brain-Machine Interfaces.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Developing Cognitive Systems Technologies With a Focus on the Ethical and Legal Issues

Wendy L. Shaneyfelt
Cognitive and Exploratory Systems, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

John P. Gluck
Department of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Striving to understand and address the ethical and legal issues surrounding the development and deployment of cognitive systems technologies early in the process sets a standard for responsible research and development of this emerging science. This paper discusses the importance of creating an early focus on ethical and legal issues in concert with the development of cognitive systems technologies. The conception, design, and implementation of a structured plan can create an awareness of the potential challenges cognitive systems might pose, as well as a commitment to the responsibilities of the scientific developers. The plan underway is described in this paper and includes the process of deriving an institutional set of ethical principles and guidelines including mechanisms for their application to real-world challenges.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Cognitive Enhancement Technologies: Implications for Determination of Causality, Responsibility and Liability

Carey D. Balaban
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This article explores the implications of augmented cognition systems for the application of traditional concepts of cognition and autonomous action to concepts of liability and responsibility. Three hypothetical scenarios are used to frame issues of the potential impact of augmented cognition technology on the autonomy of the human partner. In terms of practical applications to law, altered autonomy can impact the status of operator as a rational agent. In criminal and tort law, these changes in rational agency must be viewed through legal concepts that distinguish humans from machines. The concepts of  mens rea (mental activity underlying an action) and vicarious responsibility (secondary responsibility for actions of agents or subordinates) do not apply to a machine agent (software and hardware). Hence, a focal issue is the effect of a machine agent on the application of  mens rea and vicarious responsibility to the operators, policy makers, and the machine's designers. Augmented cognition technologies also have the potential to mitigate bounded rationality. However, this mitigation can be at the expense of limiting rationality to inferences and cognitive structures that are defined by the augmentation system. The degree of constraint can then impact the application of  mens rea to the operator in criminal law. Analogously, in tort law, both individual and secondary responsibility (e.g., vicarious responsibility) can be affected by altering rational agency. This argument returns us to the problems of determining strict and contributory liability for the operator, policy makers and augmented cognition systems designers. Finally, augmented cognition technologies can affect the application of criteria from formal logic that establish causation. In our scenarios, it seems clear that the contributions of the augmented cognition system can easily meet the criteria for causal factors from the philosophy of jurisprudence literature. The issue of duty of care incumbent on each party then becomes a relevant factor for deployment.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

Advanced Training Systems: Benefits, Limitations, and Some Policy Considerations

Kay M. Stanney
Department of Industrial Engineering & Management Systems, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

Anthony Costello
SA Technologies, Marietta, Georgia

Robert S. Kennedy
RSK Assessments, Orlando, Florida

To maximize individual learning, trainers can couple the realistic learning environments offered by virtual and mixed reality environments with the customized, precisely adaptive instruction offered by augmented cognition and cognitive enhancers of biological state. The objective of the present study is to explore the benefits, limitations, and constraints of these blended approaches and consider the types of policies that may be needed for three advanced training technology categories: tools for training and evaluation; tools for adapting to and augmenting the performance of trainees; and tools for adapting trainees so that they are biologically enhanced for learning. On the basis of this critical review it can be concluded that these new technologies have the potential to radically improve the efficiency and efficacy of training environments. However, numerous challenges to implementation persist. These adverse effects can be mitigated, but additional research is needed to identify the best methods for minimizing these hurdles.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

The Effective Use of Performance Enhancing Technologies: Mechanisms, Applications and Policies

Joseph Cohn
Naval Medical Education and Training Command, Bethesda, Maryland
Currently assigned to OPNAV Strategic Affairs Office, Strategic Concepts Branch

Chris Forsythe
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Advances in engineering and science have made it possible to develop technologies to enhance human performance across a range of tasks, situations and domains. These capabilities emphasize a range of different approaches for influencing performance, extending from those that target long-term changes in knowledge and behavior to those that supplement and enhance operator behavior in real time. Because there are so many different options, it is important to understand the different underlying processes each affects, to explore the mechanisms through which these tools work, and to develop policies for effectively using them.

Technology, Vol. 11
Copyright © 2008 Cognizant Communication Corp.

The Federal Government as the Venture Fund for Research in the United States

Robert J. Hansen, Kenneth M. Ford and William Mularie
Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Florida

This paper deals with the impact of the Federal Government through its support of basic and applied science and technology research. Many of the most important advances of the latter half of the 20th century are directly traceable to the U.S. Government effectively assuming this role. Three examples are used to describe the above assertion: Computational Fluid Dynamics; the Internet and the World Wide Web; and the Human Genome Project. Each of these enhance the performance of individuals or teams in the performance of complex tasks (Computational Fluid Dynamics the ability of aircraft design teams to rapidly consider a range of design alternative, for example.) The economic and societal impacts of these range from new national defense capabilities, to new approaches to commerce and knowledge availability, to new treatments of diseases. These and other areas spawned by federal investments in research resulted in both new company creation, such as those typical of Silicon Valley and the Biotechnology sector, and the continuing global competitiveness of more traditional, existing companies, such as Boeing and its growing dependence on advances in Computational Fluid Dynamics. The continued investment in basic and applied research by the U.S. Government is absolutely critical to the future vitality and global competitive position of the country. Moreover, such activities require the very best leadership practices to realize their full potential. Some of the practices employed by private sector venture funds might be adapted to federal R&D leadership, particularly in such mission agencies as the Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). These include adapting a "fail fast, fail often" perspective and developing exit strategies for a program prior to its initiation.