Americas, Assistive Technology, News, November 22 2019
An International Inquiry on the current state of advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable persons with disabilities and older persons to better interact with their environment led by G3ict with the support of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technologies, was founded in 2006 at the initiative and in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to promote the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities relative to digital accessibility and technologies for Persons with Disabilities. As part of its mission, G3ict promotes the adoption of innovative accessible and assistive technologies through multi-stakeholder’s consensus building initiatives involving industry, persons with disabilities, academia and the public sector. The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation mission is to improve lives through advances in information technology and breakthroughs in neurosciences.
Brain-Computer Interfaces enabled by microchip technologies, wearable devices and AI are emerging as an entirely new field of innovation that can transform the lives of millions of persons with disabilities. Whether EEG arrays or interfaces between neural systems and computer chips, data collected from brain activity coupled with the use of AI will dramatically improve the communications and interactions of persons living with visual, hearing, physical of cognitive impairments with their environment. And while brain to computer technologies have been explored for a while, competition and research and development investments are accelerating with major players entering the field showing definite progress towards marketable solutions.
These developments while very promising also raise considerable security, societal and ethical questions which have not yet been fully explored since little interaction occurs among stakeholders potentially involved, including innovators and persons with disabilities, a gap that this proposed Inquiry Program aims to address.
Purpose of the BCI International Inquiry
The purpose and goals of this International Inquiry are to improve the knowledge of the nascent field of Brain-Computer Interfaces enabled by microchips, wearable devices and AI for assistive technologies leading to the creation of a new sustainable community of involved stakeholders facilitated by G3ict with the intent to promote innovation and solutions while exploring user’s perspectives as well as security, societal and ethical issues.
Programmatic Activities to be led by Principal Investigator
The BCI International Inquiry will be used for the following inquiry steps:
1. Identify research and development organizations from both the public and private sectors that are most advanced in designing actual assistive Brain to Computer Interfaces (BCIs) solutions.
2. Conduct interviews of a selection of 12 to 15 leading research centers most advanced in designing BCI solutions in the United States and abroad, followed by a survey of stakeholders with the aim to:
a. Collect information on existing case studies of solutions already implemented by type of disability with a focus on actual results, user’s perspective, and sustainability.
b. Investigate the degree to which Brain to Computer Interfaces (BCI) micro-chip technologies may continue to improve in miniaturization and performances and how this may open new paths for innovation.
c. Identify most promising areas or current research leveraging BCIs.
d. Explore opportunities and challenges for the adoption of those technologies from the perspective of persons with disabilities and their caregivers.
e. Identify market drivers and business models alternatives for the sustainability of BCI solutions.
3. Organize a seminar or conference track by mid-year 2020 to showcase leading solutions and facilitate further dialogue, innovation and initiatives as well as an exploration of the privacy, security and ethical issues surrounding the emergence of those new technologies and their applications.
4. Publish a report documenting the results of the Inquiry Program.
5. Help G3ict design and launch a dedicated web site serving as a knowledge portal for BCIs applied to assistive solutions for persons with disabilities.
The above steps will aim to crystallize and foster the development of an “Assistive BCI Ecosystem” including scientists from academia and the private sector, leading IT corporations involved in BCIs, assistive technology users, advocates representing different organizations of persons with disabilities, professional care givers, application developers and government agencies involved in disability related policies and programs. It is envisioned that such initiative, once launched, may become sustainable through industry grants as has been the case over the years with other G3ict programs.
The Principal Investigator will report to the G3ict Vice President for Institutional Advocacy and work with G3ict’s President and a BCI Research Steering Committee overseeing the project with the participation of multiple stakeholders.
G3ict is seeking to recruit a Principal Investigator to manage its BCI International Inquiry project from December 2019 till December 2020 with the following characteristics and experience:
- Understanding of the field of neurosciences, information and communication technologies, disabilities and digital accessibility
- Degree (s) in one or several relevant domains with excellent academic credentials
- PhD or PhD Candidate with proven track record in conducting a research program involving the collection of original data through desk research, interviews and survey instruments
- Ability and interest in travelling internationally
- Excellent writing and communications skills
- Self-starter and self-disciplined in conducting a project in a timely fashion
Status and Compensation
The Principal Investigator is recruited on a project consultancy basis. Compensation will be commensurate with the Candidate status and experience, schedule availability and aligned with rates applied by academic institutions for similar projects. Project milestones will be agreed between Candidate and G3ict prior to finalizing contractual arrangements. To apply, please send résumé by December 15, 2019 via e-mail to [email protected]
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