Brain-Computer Interfaces and ethics within technology innovation

Three years ago, our Journey publication explored HMI (Human Machine Interaction / Interfaces) as the frontier between the digital and human worlds. Some of these technologies exist today in our everyday lives, many of us are now becoming used to asking Alexa or Google for information or to turn on some music. Others are still revolutionary, like neural interfaces.

Recently, we had the pleasure of hearing from Nataliya Kosmyna who is at the forefront of work on neural interfaces. She and her team at MIT are at the cusp of some extraordinary leaps in technology, designing solutions to improve the lives of people living with profound disabilities.

The potential of this work is far-reaching and will change lives – particularly in the area of healthcare and assistive technology. We already see the use of ambient listening in healthcare, which is helping clinicians produce better notes and suggesting more details by constantly listening in consultation rooms and referencing medical databases to provide structure and detail.

Whilst it is early days and we are just seeing the first exoskeletons controlled by brain computer interfaces, our experience tells us that what is bleeding edge today will quickly progress into the mainstream.

In our own work on producing technology and solutions to improve accessibility and our understanding of disability we have used neurodiversity immersive experience to help neurotypical people to understand conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), or Autistic Spectrum.

For all the benefits these technologies can bring they also raise some critical questions. Nataliya herself talked of her philosophy behind her work: to enhance quality of life by translating brain and behavioral science for real world use while engaging in critical conversations.

Atos also works hard to ensure we keep the big picture in mind as we innovate - putting people at the heart of the solutions we create. This is part of our company’s sense of purpose, which we enshrined into our bylaws in 2019: to help enable everyone to live, work and develop in the digital space sustainably, safely and securely.

In Atos we strive to embed “ethical thinking” across all of our activities, following an “Ethics by Design” framework

In Atos we strive to embed “ethical thinking” across all of our activities, following an “Ethics by Design” framework developed by our Atos Scientific and Expert Communities, and collaborating with Universities and other companies in international initiatives for the ethical certification of AI solutions.

To strengthen our focus in a Human-Centered technology progress, we are investing strongly in accessibility, extended reality, user experience, and inclusive business and building or enabling technologies that are truly supportive of human progress.

We take a balanced view neither cheerleading transhumanist fantasy nor decrying a future where technology has primacy. But “balanced” doesn’t mean “passive”. We think that we need to put humans at the center of technology and business solutions that we are creating. Our purpose is to actively contribute in designing the future of technology – for everyone.

This article follows the first of Atos’s Scientific Moonshot series of lectures where we hear from leading scientists and experts who will share their experience and vision with us.

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About Elie Girard
Former CEO, Atos
Elie Girard is a graduate of the École Centrale de Paris and of Harvard University. He began his career as auditor at Andersen, before joining the Ministry for the Economy, Finance and Industry in the Treasury department. Between 2004 and 2007, Elie Girard worked for the Office of the Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry in France. He joined Orange in 2007 and was appointed Chief of Staff to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. From 2010 to 2014, he was Senior Executive Vice-President in charge of Strategy & Development of the Orange group, member of the Group Executive Committee. In April 2014, Elie Girard joined Atos as Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Atos Group. He was appointed Group Chief Financial Officer in February 2015 and Group Senior Executive Vice President in February 2018. In March 2019, Elie was appointed Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer. He became Chief Executive Officer of Atos in November of the same year.

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