When BCIs have APIs: Design Fictions of Everyday Brain-Computer Interface Adoption
Richmond Y. Wong, Nick Merrill, and John Chuang. 2018. When BCIs have APIs: Design Fictions of Everyday Brain-Computer Interface Adoption. In Proceedings of the 2018 Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1359-1371. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3196709.3196746
In this paper, we use design fiction to explore the social implications for adoption of brain-computer interfaces (BCI). We argue that existing speculations about BCIs are incomplete: they discuss fears about radical changes in types of control, at the expense of discussing more traditional types of power that emerge in everyday experience, particularly via labor. We present a design fiction in which a BCI technology creates a new type of menial labor, using workers' unconscious reactions to assist algorithms in performing a sorting task. We describe how such a scenario could unfold through multiple sites of interaction: the design of an API, a programmer's question on StackOverflow, an internal memo from a dating company, and a set of forum posts about laborers' experience using the designed system. Through these fictions, we deepen and expand conversations around what kinds of (everyday) futures BCIs could create.