006 – Dr. Stephen Rainey

Dr. Stephen Rainey. Dr. Rainey is a research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He is a working in the Horizon2020-funded project BrainCom, developing therapeutic brain-computer interfaces that will enable communication for users with debilitating speech conditions. Dr. Rainey studied philosophy in Queen’s University Belfast and obtained his PhD in 2008 with a thesis on rationality. He has taught a range of philosophical topics and worked on a number of European Commission-funded research projects. These have included work on ethics, emerging technologies, and governance.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  • Covert speech plays a key role in the development of neuroprosthetics while also presenting a problem on how to accurately filter thoughts meant to be kept internally versus expressed verbally.
  • Dr. Rainey’s background in philosophy helped shape his belief that the future of neural discoveries is dependent on the collaboration of experts with interdisciplinary backgrounds because every discipline has different constraints.
  • Humans tend to form visions of the future that aren’t much different than the present, which leads to dystopian views rather than utopian. The reality is something in between, hopefully closer to the latter, that wasn’t considered in the first place.

Show Notes.

  • [0:45] Stephen’s background in philosophy that eventually led him to a career in neuroscience, ethics, and emerging technologies.
  • [3:19] How are neuroprosthetics able to determine what is shielded vs. shared from the real world?
  • [4:44] How thought-to-text processes are different than thought-to-speech processes.
  • [7:33] Accuracy vs. Authenticity as it relates to neuroprosthetic devices.
  • [10:12] The interface amongst neuroscientists who come from varying interdisciplinary backgrounds.
  • [14:50] Scaling the concept of ethics for emerging technologies and the future of regulation.
  • [20:24] What is the “meaning of life” in an autonomous future?
  • [24:03] Stephen’s favorite books related to ethics and BCI.

Selected Links.

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