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Neurodevices For Consumers? Neuroethicists (And Philip K Dick) Say 'Caveat Emptor'

If you're like me, you can't wait to get your hands on consumer versions of all the best neurotech. However, neuroethicists are warning us about it - caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

The claims made by the manufacturers of these devices include improved sleep, reduced stress, better performance of music or sports, and even relief from neurodegenerative diseases like ALS.

Extraordinary claims made by the manufacturers of technologies like these and other health claims made by manufacturers of food supplements, or companies selling genetic testing, often get ahead of the established science.

For this report, for example, the researchers looked for peer-reviewed research that would be consistent with the claims of the device manufacturers.

They found that, out of 41 "neurowearables," only eight had relevant peer-reviewed papers that supported the overall claims for the devices. Many of the others had references to support "associated claims" but no strong evidence that their devices actually did what they claimed.

The authors of the paywalled paper write "The wearable neurotechnology market targets consumers with promises of cognitive benefit and personal wellness. Scientific evidence is essential to substantiate claims about utility, safety, and efficacy and for informed choice and public trust."

Always on the alert to assist the hapless consumer, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick warned us about this very thing in his 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly

"Your cephalochromoscope that cost you nine hundred dollars, that you always turn on and play when you get home - Ernie and Barris were babbling away about it. They tried to use it today and it wouldn't work. No colors and no ceph patterns, neither one..."
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's Cephalochromoscope (Cephscope))

Via CBC, and a paywalled paper Owning Ethical Innovation: Claims about Commercial Wearable Brain Technologies.

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