There is a new battlefield for the advancement of technology. This is the human brain. Since 2010, the development of technology applications has changed fundamentally. Attention has become a precious and scarce resource. If you dedicate it to one thing, you stop dedicating it to another. That’s why the competition for attention is brutal today. Movies, TV, streaming, short videos, social media, games and apps all vie for our attention. To earn it, it becomes necessary to delve into deeper predilections of the brain, including unconscious ones.
In this context, the global debate on neurorights arose. As the name suggests, it’s an attempt to set limits on how far technology can penetrate the human brain to extract data and preferences, or even affect and modulate neural function. The origin of Neurorights lies in the realization that neurotechnology is applied here and now and is no longer just science fiction.
For example, in 2014, Professor Jack Gallant from the University of Berkeley and his team succeeded in developing algorithms that decode what the human brain sees in real time. His team showed people in an MRI machine videos. With the recorded data, he was surprisingly successful in reconstructing the moving images he saw.
It’s about understanding the limits of neurotechnology. In the case of Gallant, the equipment used is expensive and cumbersome (resonance). Today, however, we all carry in our pocket an intimate technological device that we live with constantly: our cell phones. To what extent is the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence able to model our deepest, even unconscious, brain reactions? Whether through eye shift, finger swipe across the screen, pupil movements, facial expressions, physical minireactions, voice emphasis, involuntary reflexes and so on? For each of these areas there are extensive behavioral studies that are increasingly being integrated into the technologies that are being introduced via mobile phones.
The pioneer in protecting neuro rights was Chile. He even made a constitutional amendment in 2021 stating that “technological development must be at the service of the people and must respect psychological integrity. The law must protect brain activity and the information that comes from it.”
Today there are five accepted pillars for neurolaws. The right to intellectual privacy, protection of identity and conscience, free will, equal access to intellectual benefits and the right to be protected from discrimination by algorithms. As you can see, the concern is that the advancement of technologies in the brain could even affect the way we build our identity, our perception of the world, and our ability to make free choices.
Would these 5 pillars be enough? Are the neurolaws too focused on new technologies like brainmachine interfaces? And forgetting that current technologies can also be invasive in terms of brain integrity?
It’s worth being clear: what’s motivating the technological race to colonize the deep brain is largely not understanding or improving the human condition, but selling more and more compelling ads.
It’s over — don’t care about data protection or privacy
Nice — General data protection laws adopted worldwide
it’s coming — Neuro Rights
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