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When it comes to zany, that’ll-be-the-day visions of the future, putting a computer in someone’s brain used to be right up there with flying cars.

Not so much anymore. Several groups are testing various types of “brain-computer interface” devices, and Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, is likely the most high-profile.

Like most anything the billionaire does, Neuralink’s brain implant trial has raised some eyebrows. Devices that aim to help paralyzed people do more tasks on their own, as Neuralink’s does, have the potential to dramatically boost someone’s quality of life. But they also raise a whole host of ethical issues, and we asked two scholars at the University of Washington to weigh in: bioethicist Nancy Jecker and neurosurgeon Andrew Ko.

Part of critics’ concerns, they point out, are about the ethics of science itself. It’s important that researchers can learn from each other’s failures, not just their successes, yet Neuralink has shared little information about its current trial. And it’s not just Neuralink, they explain: Musk’s company embodies the private equity model increasingly common in science and health.

On a lighter note, here’s a Valentine’s Day treat: We’ll be sending you a special newsletter later today with our favorite stories about love’s many meanings and forms.

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Molly Jackson

Religion and Ethics Editor

Brain-computer interfaces have the potential to transform some people’s lives, but they raise a host of ethical issues, too. Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment via Getty Images

Several companies are testing brain implants – why is there so much attention swirling around Neuralink? Two professors unpack the ethical issues

Nancy S. Jecker, University of Washington; Andrew Ko, University of Washington

Brain-computer interface devices have the potential to boost users’ autonomy, especially for people who experience paralysis. But that comes with risks, as well.

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