[Neuroscience] EGE Report: Implants in the Human Body
THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS ONE OF THE BEST REPORTS ON THE SUBJECT.
My note: The EGE (European Group on Ethics) is not afraid to address the issues relating to this subject, while using the terms human dignity and insisting on informed consent. The EGE has done a great job addressing and explaining the issues on the subject of human microchipping. Implanted device in human beings is a reality today there are serious and fundamental ethical, morel, and legal questions. These questions are finally beginning to get above the awareness radar of those who would scrutinize the behavior of those who employ their technology, methods, and techniques without our, their victim’s knowledge. This awareness will make us less susceptible as society as a whole from those who employ these things for their personal gain, as I stated on the main page this does not have to be monetary it can be such things as R&D, or they are curious to see how we react to what they employ, amongst many other reasons. It is now being taken seriously, due to the efforts of many us who have worked hard to get an awareness foundation built for those who they preyed on, both from a standpoint of those they used for experimentation and those used as a smoke screen.
The report's recommendations with regard to the use of information
and communication technology (ICT) implants for surveillance purposes
are as follows:
6.4. ICT IMPLANTS FOR NON-MEDICAL PURPOSES
The wide range of potential non-medical applications of ICT
implants also demands informed consent, respect for privacy,
etc. Some of these applications are analysed in the following
sections. The EGE makes the general point that non-medical
applications of ICT implants are a potential threat to human
dignity and democratic society. Therefore, such applications
should respect in all circumstances the principles of informed
consent and proportionality and, whenever aiming at surveillance
purposes, they should comply with the rules set out hereunder in Section 6.4.6.
The EGE emphasizes that where adults give their informed consent
to specific applications, the provided information should include
clear data on possible health disturbances in the short and/or
long term as well as problems of unwilling data processing.
6.4.6. ICT Implants for Surveillance Purposes
ICT implants for surveillance in particular threaten human
dignity. They could be used by state authorities, individuals and
groups to increase their power over others. The implants could be
used to locate people (and also to retrieve other kinds of
information about them). This might be justified for security
reasons (early release for prisoners) or for safety reasons
(location of vulnerable children).
However, the EGE insists that such surveillance applications of
ICT implants may only be permitted if the legislator considers
that there is an urgent and justified necessity in a democratic
society (Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention) and there are
no less intrusive methods. Nevertheless the EGE does not favour
such uses and considers that surveillance applications, under all
circumstances, must be specified in legislation. Surveillance
procedures in individual cases should be approved and monitored by
an independent court.
The same general principles should apply to the use of ICT
implants for military purposes.
Rather than just being a future issue, much of this technology has
existed for years. For example, a tooth implant device capable of
sending auditory signals to a person that only he or she can hear has
existed since at least the late 1950s. Jose Delgado tested his
transdermal "stimoceiver" brain implants on human subjects back in the
1970s. Modern RF-controlled, individually addressable microstimulator
chips can be built on a submillimeter scale. A Senate subcommittee
chaired by Sam Ervin, Jr. issued a report similar to this EGE report,
titled _Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior
Modification_, back in 1974.
As the EGE report points out, there are clearly military applications
for these technologies. Compared with the open technologies, devices
developed in largely unaccountable black-budget "special access
programs" would be like a stealth bomber versus a Boeing 747 (back
before stealth bombers even officially existed). Just as with the
human radiation experiments, the US has a long history of conducting
nonconsensual experimentation in the area of covert behavioral
influencing. These human rights issues *also* need to be openly
OPINION OF THE EUROPEAN GROUP ON ETHICS
IN SCIENCE AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Adopted on 16/03/2005
Original in English
ETHICAL ASPECTS OF ICT IMPLANTS IN THE HUMAN BODY
Reference: Opinion produced on the direct initiative of the EGE
Rapporteurs: Professor Stefano Rodotà and Professor Rafael Capurro
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE),
Having regard to the European Union Treaty and in particular Article 6
of the common provisions concerning the respect for fundamental
Information and communication technologies (ICT) pervade our
lives. Thus far, this pervasive influence has mainly involved devices
that we use for private purposes or at the work place such as personal
computers, mobile phones, laptops and the like. Due to new
developments these devices are becoming more and more part of our
bodies, either because we wear them (wearable computing) or because
they are implanted in our bodies.
At first sight ICT implants are ethically unproblematic if we think
for instance about cardiac pacemakers. However, although ICT implants
may be used to repair deficient bodily capabilities they can also be
misused, particularly if these devices are accessible via digital
networks. One might even think of such devices as a threat to human
dignity and particularly to the integrity of the human body (see
Section 5), while for others such implants might be seen primarily as
a means for restoring damaged human capabilities and therefore as a
contribution to the promotion of human dignity.
The idea of letting ICT devices get under our skin in order not just
to repair but even to enhance human capabilities gives rise to science
fiction visions with threat and/or benefit characteristics. However,
in some cases, the implantation of microchips is already taking place
with the potential for individual and social forms of control.
The intimate relation between bodily and psychic functions is basic to
our personal identity. Modern neurosciences are emphasising this
view. Language and imagination influence in a unique way our
perception of time and space; the way we perceive ourselves and
others; the way we relate to other non-human living beings and to the
natural environment; the way we create historically, culturally,
politically, legally, economically, and technically our societies; the
way we acquire knowledge about ourselves and about the world; and the
way we produce, create, and exchange things.
ICT devices are the products of human invention. The functions they
achieve are based on programmable or algorithmic calculations mostly
using non-biological substances such as silicon. This allows a
simulation of some biological and psychic functions . Furthermore, it
is in principle, and today also in practice, possible to implant ICT
devices in the human body in order for instance to restore bodily
functions or, as in the case of prostheses and artificial limbs, to
substitute some body parts.
These are the essential reasons why potential and actual ICT implants
in the human body have large and important ethical consequences.
Consequently, the objective of this Opinion is primarily to raise
awareness and questions concerning the ethical dilemmas created by a
range of ICT implants in this rapidly expanding field. Ethical
awareness and analysis must take place now in order to ensure an
appropriate and timely impact on the various technological
applications. Nevertheless, where necessary this Opinion proposes
clear ethical boundaries, legal principles and suggests several steps
that should be taken by responsible regulators in Europe. The Opinion
focuses on ICT implants in the human body (see Section 6.1).
ICT devices: Devices using information and communication technologies
usually based on silicon chip technology.
Active medical device: Any medical device relying for its functioning
on an internal and independent source of electrical energy or any
source of power other than that directly generated by the human body
Active implantable medical device: Any active medical device which is
intended to be totally or partially introduced surgically or
medically, into the human body or by medical intervention into a
natural orifice, and which is intended to remain after the procedure.
Passive ICT implants: ICT implants in the human body that rely on an
external electromagnetic field for their operation (see for example
Section 3.1.1 the "Verichip").
Online ICT implants: ICT implants that rely for their operation on an
("online") connection to an external computer or which can be
interrogated ("online") by an external computer (see for example
Section 3.1.2 Biosensors).
Offline ICT implants: ICT implants that operate independently of
external ICT devices (perhaps after an initial setting up operation)
(see for example Section 3.1.1 Deep Brain Stimulation).
3. SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL BACKGROUND
(See detailed report by Dr Fabienne Nsanze "ICT implants in the human
body -- a review" of February 2005 -- annexed to this Opinion)
3.1. Current Applications and Research
3.1.1. Applications: ICT implants on the market
This section contains information about implants in the human body
that are available in commercial form and have been researched, in
some cases, for decades.
Active medical devices
The history of implantable devices in clinical practice started in the
1960s with the development of the first heart pacemakers to replace
the autonomic rhythm of the heart. Systems for bladder stimulation
that allow paraplegics (paralysis of the lower limbs often resulting
from spinal cord injuries) to control voiding followed in the
1980s. The most recent examples of active implants for functional
electrical stimulation are stimulators to treat pain in patients with
tumours and trembling caused by Parkinson's disease, and to restore
the grasp function in quadriplegics (paralysis of the arms, legs and
trunk below the level of an associated spinal cord injury). Typical
devices include the following:
-- Cardiovascular pacers for patients with conduction disorders or
-- Cochlear implants: the cochlear implant differs from the hearing
aid in that it does not amplify sound and bypasses the damaged part to
send sound signals directly to the auditory nerve.
-- Auditory Brainstem implant (ABI) is an auditory prosthesis that
bypasses the cochlea and auditory nerve to help individuals who cannot
benefit from a cochlear implant because the auditory nerves are not
working. The brainstem implant stimulates directly the cochlear
nucleus situated in the brainstem.
-- Implantable programmable drug delivery pumps: Administration of
Baclofen for patients with Multiple Sclerosis with severe spasticity
(intrathecal administration i.e. within the spinal canal) Insulin pump
-- Implantable Neurostimulation Devices: the term "neurostimulation"
relates to technologies that do not directly stimulate a muscle as a
functional electrical stimulation device (i.e., cardiac
pacemakers). Rather, neurostimulation technologies modify electrical
nerve activity. Spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain management
Sacral nerve stimulation for treatment of refractory urinary urge
incontinence Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for seizure control in
epilepsy or for mood control in severe depression cases
-- Deep brain stimulation (DBS): for tremor control in patients with
Parkinson's disease for essential tremor: Patients with essential
tremor have no symptom other than tremor, which may occur in their
hands, head, legs, trunk or voice. As for patients with Parkinson's
disease, they can be helped with deep brain stimulation therapy.
-- Artificial chip-controlled leg: the German company Otto Bock
Healthcare GmbH has developed a prosthesis called "C-Leg® "which is a
Identification and location devices
Microchip devices come in three forms:
1) Read-Only: this is the simplest form of devices that have a
read-only character, similar to that now used for identification of
animals. Even this most basic form would have numerous applications,
for example, to identify Alzheimer's patients, children and the
unconscious. A broader use would be as a sort of national
identification card, based upon the identifying number carried on the
2) Read-Write: this type of microchip would be capable of carrying a
set of information which could be expanded as necessary. It allows the
storage of data and is programmable at distance. For example, when the
microchip carries a person's medical history and the history evolves,
the subsequent information could also be added to the microchip
without the necessity of removing the implanted chip. It could also
facilitate and record financial transactions. The third important set
of information that a read-write microchip could carry might be
3) Devices with tracking capabilities: besides the read-write
capabilities described above, a device can also emit a radio signal
which could be tracked. Applications would again be numerous as
evidenced by the less advanced technologies already in existence. Such
a device needs a power source that has to be miniaturized before being
implantable. With a microchip implant, constant monitoring would be
possible. If each chip emitted a signal of a unique identifying
frequency, implanted individuals could be tracked by simply dialling
up the correct signal. Because the receiver is mobile, the tagged
individual could be tracked anywhere.
Typical devices include:
-- RFID devices: millions of Radio frequency identification (RFID)
tags have been sold since the early 1980s. They are used for
livestock, pet, laboratory animals, and endangered- species
identification. This technology contains no chemical or battery. The
chip never runs down and has a life expectancy of 20 years.
-- VeriChip(TM) or the "human bar code": VeriChip(TM)
(www.4verichip.com) is a subdermal RFID device, about the size of a
grain of rice, which is implanted in the fatty tissue below the
triceps. Current applications of the VeriChip include:
Medical records and healthcare information (blood type, potential
allergies and medical history)
Personal information/identity: In the Baja Beach Club (in Spain and
The Netherlands, http://www.baja.nl), people use the VeriChip(TM) like
a smartcard to speed up drink orders and payment.
Financial information (secondary verification)
Besides these areas, the extended applications include public
transportation security, access to sensitive buildings or
installations and tracking down people on parole, ex- convicts,
criminals, etc. Currently, a person has to stand within a few feet
from a scanner for the tag to "wake up". Thus, the tags can be used to
follow someone's steps only when they are near scanners. Consequently,
the VeriChip(TM) is, for the moment, not an implantable GPS (Global
Positioning System) device.
-- The Bavarian company Ident Technology
(http://www.ident-technology.com) offers tracking devices using the
human body (particularly the skin) as a digital data transmitter.
-- Female remote-control Orgasm Implant: A machine that delivers an
orgasm at the push of a button was patented in the US in January
3.1.2. Research on ICT Implants
-- Biosensors: Biosensors or MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System)
devices are sensors implanted inside the human body for accurate
monitoring of inaccessible parts of the body. The biosensors form a
network and collectively monitor the health condition of their host.
This involves the collection of data about physiological parameters
like blood pressure or glucose levels and making decisions based on
it, such as alerting doctors to a potential medical crisis.
The information to be transmitted is crucial medical information that
is required by law to be secure. Consequently, information technology
is a critical component of these biological implants that, with the
energy, memory and computational capabilities, present challenging
There are several biomedical applications where this technology will
be useful. Examples include sensors implanted in the brain of patients
with Parkinson's disease or epilepsy, acoustic and optical biosensor
arrays for blood analysis, and sensors implanted in the body of a
recovering cancer patient to detect cancer cells.
-- Artificial hippocampus: an example of a future brain prosthesis is
the implantable brain chip that could restore or enhance memory. The
hippocampus plays a key role in the laying down of memories. Unlike
devices such as cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain
activity, this chip implant will perform the same processes as the
damaged part of the brain it is replacing. It promises to be a way to
help people who have suffered brain damage due to stroke, epilepsy or
-- Cortical implant for the blind: it has been known for many years
that electrical stimulation of the eyes evokes phosphenes leading to
visual perception. With a cortical implant, information from a tiny
digital camera could be transmitted to electrodes implanted in the
visual cortex, bypassing the non-working retina or optic nerve.
-- Ocular implant or artificial retina: other researchers are focusing
on new technologies to replace damaged retina, the light-sensitive
cell layer in the eye. A retinal prosthesis involves electrically
stimulating retinal neurons beyond the receptor layer with signals
(light) from a microscopic digital camera; it is feasible when the
inner retina and optic nerve remain intact. In fact, currently two
approaches are being investigated for retinal prosthesis: sub-retinal
-- Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) or direct brain control: the
technologies involved above are communication technologies; they take
information from the brain and externalize it. There are internalizing
technologies (cochlear or optic-nerve implants) whose purpose is to
take information from the outside and provide individual access to
it. These two technologies will eventually come together to form
interactive technologies which would allow input-output
interactions. These systems could allow people to use signals directly
from the brain for communication and control of movement.
Although human studies demonstrate the feasibility of using brain
signals to command and control external devices, researchers emphasize
that many years of development and clinical testing will be required
before such devices - including "neuro-prosthetic" limbs for paralyzed
people, become available.
Surveillance or tracking devices
-- Wearable ICT devices for tracking the human body: such a device
allows an individual with a receiver to pinpoint someone's position
-- Subdermal GPS Personal Location Devices: in May 2003, Applied
Digital Solutions (ADS) (http://www.adsx.com) claimed that "Digital
Angel", a prototype implantable GPS tracking device had been
successfully tested. However, technical experts are questioning
whether the system could really work. The disc-shaped "personal
location device" measures 6.35 centimetres in diameter and 1.27
centimetres in depth - roughly the same size as a pace- maker. This
GPS monitoring could be used for several purposes, such as for
example, in case of medical emergencies (heart attack, epilepsy or
diabetes), or for identification and location purposes (for people in
high risk occupations, children, stalkers or suspected terrorists).
Enhancement or commodity devices
Computer scientists have predicted that within the next twenty years
neural interfaces will be designed that will not only increase the
dynamic range of senses, but will also enhance memory and enable
"cyber think" -- invisible communication with others.
Possible devices include:
-- Prosthetic cortical implant (intelligence or sensory "amplifiers"):
initially developed for the blind, the cortical implant will allow
"healthy" people permanent access to information from a computer based
either on what a digital camera sees or based on an artificial
-- Artificial Vision: according to recent research undertaken to
develop an artificial retina, it will be possible, one day, to see
light in the infrared. In this case, instead of using a standard video
camera, an infrared camera could be used.
-- Audio tooth implant or tooth phone: designed in 2002, the Audio
tooth implant, still only exists in concept form. A micro-vibration
device and a wireless low frequency receiver are implanted in the
tooth during routine dental surgery. The tooth communicates with an
array of digital devices, such as mobile telephones, radio and
computers. Sound information is transferred from the tooth into the
inner ear by bone transduction. Sound reception is totally discreet
enabling information to be received anywhere at anytime.
-- Artificial hippocampus: as mentioned above, this implantable brain
chip could enhance memory.
3.2. Other Potential Uses
Other potential uses of implantable ICT devices include:
-- Microsoft patent number 6,754,472 (June 22, 2004) concerns the
human body as a medium for transmission of data (and energy) to "other
devices" like PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), cellular phones,
medical devices (for surveillance purposes: like for instance in
retired people's homes), RFID making possible to localize other
persons. In a family website your children could log onto the
surveillance system and look at what their parents or grandparents are
doing. The patent does not describe any specific device.
-- "Smart guns": Applied Digital Solutions (ADS), which created the
VeriChip(TM), announced in April 2004 a partnership with gun
manufactures FN Manufacturing to produce so-called "smart guns". Such
weapons can be fired only if operated by their owner with a RFID-chip
implanted in his or her hand.
3.3. The 6th Research and Development Framework Programme (FP6)
"The objectives of the Information Society Technologies (IST) theme
within FP6 are to ensure European leadership in generic and applied
technologies at the heart of the knowledge economy. It aims to
increase innovation and competitiveness in European businesses and
industry and to contribute to greater benefits for all European
citizens. The focus of IST in FP6 is on the future generation of
technologies in which computers and networks will be integrated into
the everyday environment, rendering accessible a multitude of services
and applications through easy-to-use human interfaces. This vision of
"ambient intelligence" places the user at the centre of future
developments for an inclusive knowledge- based society for all".
Examples of Projects funded by the FP6
Nano scale materials and sensors and Microsystems for medical implants
improving health and quality of life
In this project key micro system technologies and communication
methods will be developed that bring intelligence directly to the
human, in the form of medical implants and ambulatory measurement
systems, and also enable information from these devices to be
transmitted out into the wider environment. The overall objective is
to develop the technologies that go to make up a micro system, and
then to produce specific medical devices to exploit these
technologies. The resulting final medical products include cochlear
and retina implants, nerve stimulation, bladder control and pressure
monitoring systems. It is estimated from the available statistics that
around 50% of the western population i.e. around 500 million citizens,
will suffer from at least one of the health problems targeted in this
The OPTIVIP project
The aim of OPTIVIP is the optimization of an implantable visual
prosthesis based on the stimulation of the optic nerve and its
demonstration within a pre-clinical study.
Ethical issues are tackled in this project by specific project tasks
being devoted to obtaining input from the blind community and
especially from patients and their representatives. Various aspects of
the prosthesis, namely functionality, appearance and ethics are
covered. This is essential in order to direct research efforts in
accordance with real needs.