What if brain imaging could predict economic choices?

brainobama

Should Policy Makers and Financial Institutions Have Access to Billions of Brain Scans?

Let’s pretend that scientists have discovered a neural biomarker that could accurately predict a person’s propensity to take financial risks in a lottery. Would it be ethical to release this information to policy makers? That seems to be the conclusion of a new paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience (Gilaie-Dotan et al., 2014): The results will also provide a simple measurement of risk attitudes that could be easily extracted from abundance of existing medical brain scans, and could potentially provide a characteristic distribution of these attitudes for policy makers. If we accept this line of thinking, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that financial institutions, employers, consumer reporting agencies, and dating services could use this information in a discriminatory, preemptive fashion to screen out potentially risky applicants. Or perhaps casinos, lotteries, and predatory lending companies could target these individuals with personalized ads. ….[READ]

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