Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) now enable an individual without limb function to “move” a detached mechanical arm to perform simple actions, such as feeding herself. This technology may eventually offer almost everyone a way to move objects at a distance, by exercising cognitive control of a mechanical device. At that point, BCIs may be seen less as an assistive technology for disabled people, and more as a tool, like the internet, which can benefit all users. We will argue that BCIs will have a significant but uncertain impact on attitudes toward disabilities and on norms of bodily form and function. It may be liberating, oppressive, or both. Its impact, we argue, will depend – though not in any simple way – on whether BCIs come to be seen as parts of the body itself or as external tools.
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