Kosal Publishes Article on Brain-computer Interfaces, National Security

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Margaret E. Kosal, associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, co-authored an article in Politics and the Life Sciences with Joy Putney, a Georgia Tech Ph.D. graduate and Sam Nunn Security Fellow from 2020-2021. The article is titled “Neurotechnology and International Security: Predicting Commercial and Military Adoption of Brain-computer Interfaces (BCIs) in the United States and China.”

The authors discuss commercial and military dissemination of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, which “allow communication between the brain and external devices like a prosthetic arm or a keyboard.” They focus on the United States and China, comparing which country might achieve widespread adoption of the technology first and the national security risks associated with adopting it later.

“Consideration of the challenges to international security and policymaking as a result of scientific and technological advancements is not novel,” Kosal and Putney write. “Anticipating and responding to potential emerging threats to security and understanding disruptive technologies are intrinsic to the security dilemma.”

The authors present two hypotheses that would, under different circumstances, allow the U.S. or China to adopt BCIs first. However, they conclude that BCI use in both countries right now supports the idea that China will be the first to achieve widespread adoption of the technology, despite the U.S. having developed a program earlier and spent more money on it.

Kosal and Putney argue this is the case because early reports show that BCI adoption is more likely to be influenced by government structure and sociocultural norms than research and development capabilities — a dichotomy which favors China. The authors outline several ways that this could affect national security in the U.S., including having less influence when setting international treaties that address neurotechnology.

“The effects described here for the specific relationship between China and the United States reflect the broader reality of the impact of BCIs and neurotechnologies generally on the international security landscape,” they write. “Early innovators and adopters of BCIs may have the opportunity to set international norms for their use in both civilian and military contexts for human enhancement.”

Read the full article at:


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  • Created By:gwyner3
  • Created:04/06/2022
  • Modified By:gwyner3
  • Modified:04/06/2022


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