Objective. The aim of this review was to systematically identify the ethical implications of visual neuroprostheses. Approach. A systematic search was performed in both PubMed and Embase using a search string that combined synonyms for visual neuroprostheses, brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), cochlear implants (CIs), and ethics. We chose to include literature on BCIs and CIs, because of their ethically relavant similarities and functional parallels with visual neuroprostheses. Main results. We included 84 articles in total. Six focused specifically on visual prostheses. The other articles focused more broadly on neurotechnologies, on BCIs or CIs. We identified 169 ethical implications that have been categorized under seven main themes: (a) benefits for health and well-being; (b) harm and risk; (c) autonomy; (d) societal effects; (e) clinical research; (f) regulation and governance; and (g) involvement of experts, patients and the public. Significance. The development and clinical use of visual neuroprostheses is accompanied by ethical issues that should be considered early in the technological development process. Though there is ample literature on the ethical implications of other types of neuroprostheses, such as motor neuroprostheses and CIs, there is a significant gap in the literature regarding the ethical implications of visual neuroprostheses. Our findings can serve as a starting point for further research and normative analysis.
Published: 27 April 2022
Full Access Link: Journal of neural engineering