Recently, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued the “Notice Concerning the Drafting of Export Control Rules for Brain-Computer Interface Technology” to solicit public opinions on the inclusion of BCI technology in export control. This time, the goal is particularly clear, focusing on brain-computer interface technology (BCI).
According to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, some projects that may be of potential concern for export control purposes have not yet been effectively controlled by multilateral because they are emerging technologies, including brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Technology, this type of technology includes neural control interface, cardio-computer interface, direct neural interface, etc.
BIS said that it is seeking public opinions on the potential uses of brain-computer interface technology, especially the impact of such technologies on US national security, such as whether BCI technology can provide the United States or any of its opponents with military or intelligence advantages. The new regulations show that the deadline for the consultation is December 10, 2021. In accordance with past practice, after the deadline for soliciting opinions, relevant departments will use this as a standard to formulate laws and promote implementation.
BCI Technology: From Science Fiction to Reality
When I first came into contact with the term brain-computer interface technology, I couldn’t help but recall the sci-fi picture that the classic sci-fi movie “The Matrix” painted for us-by inserting a cable in the back of the head, people can swimcomputerIn the world, a single idea can change “reality”. People don’t even need to spend a lot of time reading books, videos and other media, just transfer the knowledge directly to the brain through the brain-computer interface. In this view, it used to be a fanciful fantasy, but now it is gradually becoming reasonable.
The English name of brain-computer interface technology is BCI, the abbreviation of Brain Computer Interface. It is a direct connection path established between human or animal brain (or brain cell culture) and external equipment.
When disassembled and interpreted, the term “brain” refers to the brain or nervous system in the form of organic life, and “machine” refers to any processing or computing device, the form of which can vary from simpleCircuitarriveSilicon chip。
But in fact, the research of brain-computer interface can be traced back to the beginning of the research of brain science, which can be roughly divided into three stages:
In 1924, Hansberger invented the EEG brain electrical capture device, which captured human brain waves for the first time, and in the following years tried to control brain signals and proposed the concept of brain-computer interface;
At the beginning of the 21st century, BrainGate tried an invasive brain-computer interface for the first time, and achieved relatively successful results, which can help patients control machinery to make simple movements;
In modern times, with the gradual maturity of technological hardware and the diversification of brain-computer interface applications, companies such as BrainCo, NeuraLink, Facebook and others have released commercial products and officially entered the field of brain-computer interfaces.
Therefore, it can be said that the research of brain-computer interface is far away. Based on long-term animal experiments, early implanted devices applied to the human body have been designed and manufactured to help patients recover damaged hearing, vision, and limbs. Athletic ability. Of course, the main line of research is the unusual cortical plasticity of the brain, which is compatible with the brain-computer interface and can control implanted prostheses like natural limbs. With the current advances in technology and knowledge, pioneers in brain-computer interface research can convincingly try to create brain-computer interfaces that enhance human functions, not just restoring human functions.
Why the U.S. regulates BCI technology
There is no doubt that as an emerging technology in the new era, BCI technology has important applications in human health care and assistive technology, and will even develop andartificial intelligence, Advanced material development, human-machine interface and robotics technology have serious impacts. Therefore, the award of over-extensive export control of BCI technology hinders research in these areas.
Although the United States mentioned in the new regulations that “the implementation of export controls on this type of technology (BCI technology) may adversely affect future cooperation with our allies”, “in the formulation and implementation of the export of such technology (BCI technology) During the regulation, effective partnerships between the government, industry and academia are essential,” but it still did not stop BIS from continuing to implement this initiative.
It is worth noting that BIS also specifically listed 12 issues for public comment. Specifically, it includes:
1. What specific BCI technology unified standards need to be adopted to ensure its global application (that is, as an international standard for BCI technology)?
2. Compared with other countries, where is the development of BCI in the United States (for example, is the United States at the forefront of the development of BCI technology)?
3. Can BCI technology be used for commercial purposes in certain countries/regions, and if so, where and for what specific purposes (for example, have foreign companies have developed equipment or chips for specific commercial applications)?
4. Has the current development stage of invasive and/or non-invasive BCI technology reached the point where the technology can be used for commercial production and use?
5. The main progress of non-invasive brain signal sensors is designed based on real-time algorithms to convert neural signals into instructions (ie, what is developing faster: “software” (algorithms) or hardware (sensors)?
6. What impact will the establishment of export control on BCI technology have on America’s technological leadership (that is, not only in the field of BCI technology, but as a whole)? If the main control is in “software” rather than hardware, will this effect be significantly different? vice versa?
7. How might the future development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology or other emerging technologies affect the development of BCI technology, and vice versa?
8. What types of ethical or policy issues may arise from using BCI technology (for example, for medical or military purposes)?
9. What risks and benefits currently exist or may result from the application of BCI technology?
10. What are the potential advantages or disadvantages of using invasive and non-invasive BCI chips/sensors and related “software” (such as signal processing algorithms) in specific applications? Depending on whether invasive or non-invasive BCI chips/sensors and related “software” are used, to what extent do these advantages or disadvantages correspond (or differ)?
11. Are there any BCI technologies that are more susceptible to cyber security threats than other technologies (for example, military systems that use BCI technologies may adversely affect US biological defense)?
12. How likely is the transmitted BCI data to be hacked or manipulated to affect users or machines? Compared with other forms of data, is this kind of data inherently more susceptible to hacker attacks or manipulation? Will the intrusive or non-intrusive characteristics of BCI data affect the potential vulnerabilities of such data?
The control of BCI technology started 3 years ago
In fact, the United States has long started to regulate cutting-edge emerging technologies such as BCI. On November 19, 2018, the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a draft for comment on export control of 14 cutting-edge technologies.
These 14 technologies include artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, robotics, quantum information and sensing technology,microprocessorTechnology, positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) technology, advanced computing technology, etc. In the 2018 list, brain-computer interface technology has been included in the scope of control.
Despite a large number of objections, the United States has successively introduced laws and regulations based on this list to implement strict controls on the export of related technologies, and technology companies that rely on the import of advanced technologies and equipment have successively suffered major impacts. This impact continues to this day. . Now, after nearly three years, BIS has once again issued a draft for soliciting comments, especially for brain-computer interface technology.
Of course, everyone knows that the current list is still in the stage of public consultation and is still in the incomplete determination stage. If these areas are really “export control”, then American companies will also face huge losses, so relevant American companies should Objections will be raised during the consultation period to protect their own interests.