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Ethics of Neuroprosthetics

            With the development of many disabilities that are physically and mentally debilitating, there has been an increase of research being done to help relieve the effects of these disabilities. One condition that has been looked into and researched is deafness or hearing loss. The technology of cochlear implants has been developing much over the past 50 years or so in order to augment the hearing of those who cannot or do not hear at normal function frequencies. The cochlear implant has been one of the most successful neural prosthesis developed (Wilson et al., 2011). Though it is one of the most successful implantations, there have been many successes and mistakes made during the development of such implants. This raises concern for other newly researched neuroprosthetics, such as retinal, memory and limb prosthetics. Social, technical and ethical issues have been brought up with the alteration of an individual's body, research and development of neuroprosthetics, and the use of neuroelectronic devices to enhance human capabilities (Rosahl, 2007). The signing deaf community and some members of society find that neuroprosthetics could possibly be unethical due to elimination of a normal population and super-normal enhancement of daily living (Rosahl, 2007). There are also risks that come with the implantation and study of these devices in subjects with disabilities (Wolpaw and Wolpaw, 2012). .
             Cochlear implants, alone, have their own ethical disputes. Due to increased research and use of cochlear implants, the signing deaf community has been in an uproar. They see it as a way of eliminating the deaf community and their culture. Some see it as an intrusion and possible elimination of their culture and a compromising of their autonomy (Rosahl, 2007). Others suggest that regaining hearing could be considered an enhancement, something that other members of the community don't have or an additional capability, gained by artificial means (Rosahl, 2007).

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