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Though it is unclear where the development of the emerging neurotechnologies will lead, we should reflect on ? and prepare for ? potential challenges on the horizon, both with respect to innovation and regulatory agendas.
Governments in Canada and around the world will support the neurotechnology sector in various forms (in June 2012 the Government of Canada pledged nearly $11 million in support of neurotech commercialization activities in southern Ontario). But as technologies are developed with an even greater potential to affect and augment the users, governments may be called to reflect on which technologies to foster and support ? both on economic and ethical grounds.
For innovation and regulatory agendas to move together and not at cross-purposes in a world of accelerating neurotechnological development (as well as other emerging technologies), policymakers on each side will have to make an ethical commitment to open dialogue, to acknowledge the concerns and aims of each side.
We may be only experiencing the first steps in a "Neuro Revolution". It is unclear just how revolutionary and transformative it will be. But policymakers should be prepared for whatever is on the horizon. In the words of Doctor Octopus, referring to the fusion reactor that gave his thought-controlled mechanic limbs a consciousness of their own, "It can't be stopped".
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