New Article: Call for human rights protections on emerging brain-computer interface technologies

Editor's note:

Industry self-regulation is not enough, say AI researchers

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Leigh Dayton
March 16, 2021

"Should a person who commits an assault during a psychotic episode be allowed to avoid jail if they agree to have a brain implant that controls their mental state? How much should it cost to have your intelligence augmented with a computer chip or to live in a world of virtual reality? Such scenarios are not science fiction. According to the international NeuroRights Network (NRN), launched in 2020 by Columbia University neuroscientist Rafael Yuste, they describe the near-future.In February, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that his firm Neuralink could begin human trials for brain implants this year. In 2019 Facebook bought self-described ‘neural interface technology’ start-up CTRL-Labs for an estimated US$500 million to $1 billion."

"The NRN argues that it’s time to consider governance systems for regulating the so-called brain-computer interface (BCI) technology underpinning such research. Its members include Marcello Ienca from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Fabrice Jotterand from Basel University, also in Switzerland, Allan McCay from the University of Sydney in Australia, and Phillip Kellmeyer with Freiburg University in Germany. As McCay, a lawyer, observes, it’s time to act in readiness for scenarios such as the assault case described above. “Criminal law as it stands is not well-equipped to deal with these kinds of issues,” he says."