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Student Work: Booklet – Neurotechnology (Junior)

In the future, it is 2045, and the Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN), located in Seattle, Washington, USA, has become a national leader in providing neurotechnology therapies and procedures. The future scene follows four individuals who seek treatment at CIN for a variety of specific ailments. One is undergoing deep brain stimulation treatment for a traumatic brain injury. Another is experiencing complications with a brain implant she received to improve her military abilities. Another patient, struggling with mental health issues, is looking into getting a costly enhanced emotional support animal assistant. And the last patient is undergoing physical therapy after receiving a robotic hand, and is being pressured to upgrade to a newer model. The full future scene is an attached PDF below.

Students were asked to respond to the future scene and the challenge to the problem solvers: “The Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology’s (CIN) Board of Directors have asked you, Future Problem Solvers, to analyze their use of neurotechnology. Select an underlying problem related to the use of neurotechnology at the CIN, then develop an appropriate action plan detailing a strategy for the successful continuation of neurotechnology therapies.”

Additional Information
Student: Anya (North Carolina)
Topic: Neurotechnology
Division: Junior
Competition: 2021 International Conference (First Place)
Evaluation Highlights: At the world finals, students receive feedback from a team of evaluators. See highlights of their feedback at the end of this article.
Original Formatting: See the student work with its original formatting in an attached PDF below.

Student Work – Booklet

Step 1 – Identify challenges

  1. Since Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN) adolescent users such as Oliver have bad sleep patterns after getting the implant, it might cause them to get medical disorders such as insomnia, which may lead to poor physical and psychological health.
  2. SInce CIN adolescent users such as Oliver have lost interest in sports since getting the DBS  implant, it might cause him to go into isolation and avoid his friends, which may lead to poor social relationships for him.
  3. Since CIN military users such as Nikola who got the implant during active duty can’t take it out  even after retirement, it may force her to have the implant to stay in her brain without her free will, which may lead to ethical issues.
  4. Since CIN military users such as Nikola have the implant forced to stay in her brain even after retirement, it might cause the implant to malfunction and still collect brain info, which may lead to risking her privacy.
  5. Since CIN military users such as Nikola have the implant staying in their brain even during retirement, it might happen that spies from other countries can maliciously hack into her implant and steal secretive military-related intel which she has, which may lead to putting USA at risk and cause defense risk.
  6. Because CIN’s EESAAs are very expensive and insurance only covers part of the cost, it might cause patients such as PrIsha to get stressed because of the big financial burden to pay for the therapy, which may lead to psychological issues.
  7. Because CIN’s EESAAs is genetically designing and altering the animal’s brains, it might cause animal cruelty, which may lead to poor ethical impacts.
  8. Because CIN non-invasive EEG-based technology is outdated and not very effective, it may force CIN users such as Ricardo to use the invasive technology which they might not be very comfortable using, which may lead to stress and poor psychological health.

Step 2 – Select an underlying problem

Since many of the effective Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN) neurotechnologies are invasive and causing various physical, psychological, security, and ethical issues, how might we increase the effectiveness of non-invasive neurotechnology so that CIN users can confidently continue to use Neurotechnology in 2045 and beyond in Seattle, Washington, USA?

Step 3 – Produce solution ideas

  1. Neurotechnology centers of Columbia University will work with other professors and scientists to develop noninvasive technology which uses clean EEG signals and has high accuracy. Such BCIs will help in developing effective noninvasive technology.
  2. Companies such as BrainCo will innovate and develop wearable neurotechnology which is discreet and not bulky, yet still very accurate. Such innovation will be leveraged by companies like Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN) to make their noninvasive neurotechnology effective.
  3. EEG sensor designing companies such as Neuroscan will develop a technology to smartly separate out only the relevant and needed data from brain signal collected from noninvasive wearables and hence won’t transmit all brain data which can be possibly collected from neurotechnology devices. As only necessary data is transmitted, user data will be less exposed and will stay more private and secure, hence making the user more confident to use it.
  4. CIN will collaborate with companies such as Kernel Neuroscience and Datwyler will develop high-quality advanced dry EEG electrodes which will provide low-noise recording, high signal quality leading to accuracy, convenience in installation, and comfort even in long-term wearing. CIN can use this advanced technology can make noninvasive devices to be more comfortable and effective.
  5. Technology companies such as Google will develop advanced AI solutions where AI algorithms will be embedded to run directly on noninvasive neurotechnology devices and will not require user data to be transferred or stored in external systems or databases. As customer brain data doesn’t need to be transferred, it will make their information remain private and make them use noninvasive devices more confidently.
  6. Professors from institutions like Columbia and Washington University will collaborate with other scientists to run initiatives such as Neurorights which will establish solid guidelines for the responsible and ethical development of Neurotechnology. Such initiatives will define ethical codes and human rights directives that will promote responsible and ethical development of neurotechnology can protect people from potentially harmful neurotechnologies and make them more effective.
  7. Large technology companies such as IBM will use advanced Blockchain technology to make the brain data from neurotechnology to be secure. Blockchain technology basically is based on the something called distributed ledger concept which saves the data by distributing it in highly encrypted small blocks so that data can’t be corrupted, hacked, or altered. This will make the brain data to be very secure. CIN can leverage this secure IBM technology and make its technology more effective.
  8. The US government will enforce Neurotechnology companies to clearly disclose to the customers how their brain information is recorded, stored, used and will also require them to get formal legal consent from the customer about all direct and indirect use of their brain data, so that customer is fully aware of the purpose their data is being used for and data is used securely/ethically and hence making neurotechnology effective.

Step 4 – Select criteria

  1. Which solution will best increase the effectiveness of non-invasive neurotechnology?
  2. Which solution will make Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN) users most confident in continuing to use Neurotechnology in 2045 and beyond in Seattle, Washington, USA?
  3. Which solution will be most acceptable to CIN users in 2045 and beyond in Seattle, Washington, USA?
  4. Which solution will be least expensive to implement for CIN users continuing to use neurotechnology in 2045 and beyond in Seattle, Washington, USA?
  5. Which solution is humane for CIN users in 2045 and beyond in Seattle, Washington, USA?

Step 5 – Apply criteria

Step 5 grid
Step 5 Solutions Criteria Grid

Step 6 – Develop an action plan

Cascadia Institute for Neurotechnology (CIN) will collaborate with companies such as Kernel Neuroscience and Datwyler who will develop high-quality advanced dry EEG electrodes which will provide low-noise recording, high signal quality leading to accuracy, convenience in installation, and comfort even in long-term wearing. CIN can use this advanced technology can make noninvasive devices to be more comfortable and effective.

This solution will be implemented in multiple phases. First, the CIN research team will work with Kernel and Datwyler research lab and innovation team to develop advanced dry electrodes based on EEGs. Then, CIN will work with their manufacturing team to pilot it for some users. Finally, they will do mass production of noninvasive devices using this. The first phase will be implemented in 2047, and the rest of the solution will be implemented in 2050.

This solution will solve the underlying problem of increasing the effectiveness of non-invasive neurotechnology so that CIN users can confidently continue to use Neurotechnology by making noninvasive neurotechnology more accurate, secure, and ethical. This solution will be most acceptable because users will be more in control by being able to take noninvasive devices off (Criteria 3). This solution will also be the least expensive to implement (Criteria 4). Also, this solution will be most humane because it is not forcing uses without their will(Criteria 5).

The main obstacle in implementing the solution which I could foresee is people still hesitating in believing in the effectiveness of neurotechnology. This obstacle can be overcome by creating an educational program to make people aware of the benefit of noninvasive Neurotechnology devices in the long run and how it makes them happier and healthier if they work towards making it more accurate and effective.

Evaluation Highlights

At all stages of competition, registered students receive authentic assessment of their competitive writing submissions from trained evaluators. Our rubric-based evaluations share learner-focused feedback to support students in their growth as writers and creative thinkers.

Evaluators use the rubric to provide quantitative feedback as they score student submissions. Evaluators leave qualitative feedback as comments for students, in order to support their future competition submissions and thinking skills. At our world finals, students receive feedback from multiple evaluators.

Here are highlights from the evaluation team about this submission:

  • Step 1 – You had some really good challenges; it is clear you understood the scene. You used a variety of categories: ethics & religion, physical health, defense, psychological health, economics, and technology. Be sure to base your challenges on the future scene information.
  • Step 2 – : Great job including all required elements and writing a solid UP. Be very careful to make your key verb phrase and purpose relate to the future scene as a whole.
  • Step 3 – You had some really good solutions, and I appreciate all the hard work you put into them/. Be sure your solutions are all clearly linked to the key verb phrase of effectiveness and what that looks like concretely.
  • Step 4 – Great ideas flowing here! Please note that adding on the same stakeholder to multiple criteria can only earn more points in relevance once.
  • Step 5 – Nice job! No issues here.
  • Step 6 – Nice start to an action plan. It would have been nice to have more detail on how this works with the current technologies CIN has. What does the research say about the dry EEG? Remember the Action Plan is the last step and you need to give it your all. Make it special! Show off those descriptive writing skills.
  • Overall – Way to go here! I am super impressed with your thoughtfulness in tackling this future scene.

Disclaimer: Student work and evaluator comments may have been adjusted by Future Problem Solving for privacy and clarity.

Attachment – Submission PDF

Attachment – Future Scene

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.