Orphaned neurological implants. By Cory Doctorow @pluralistic@mamot.fr.

Second Sight, a company that makes ocular implants, sold out to another company that doesn’t want to be on that business, leaving users blind and with crippling vertigo. Not the first time a neural implants company has done this to users.

Medtech startups are like any other startup. “… when a startup fails, investors try to make back some of their losses by selling the company’s assets to any buyer, no matter how sleazy.”

The solution: Neural implants should be open hardware, and users should have legally protected right to repair.


Opponents of this proposal will say that it will discourage investment in “innovation” in neurological implants. They may well be right: the kinds of private investors who hedge their bets on high-risk ventures by minimizing security and resilience and exploiting patents and user-data might well be scared off of investment by a requirement to make the technology open.

It may be that showboating billionaire dilettantes will be unwilling to continue to pour money into neural implant companies if they are required to put the lives of the people who use their products ahead of their own profits.

It may be that the only humane, sustainable way to develop neural implants is to publicly fund that research and development, with the condition that the work products be standard, open, and replicable

Mitch W @MitchW