NeuroProtection Milestones

NeuroProtection in Chile

The NeuroRights Initiative is working with the Senate of the Republic of Chile, the Chilean Minister of Science and the Catholic University (Pontificia Universidad Católica: PUC) to pioneer a NeuroData protection agenda. These efforts are coordinated by the Commission of the Future of the Senate, an office led by Senator Guido Girardi, which focuses on introducing legislation addressing advances in medicine and science.

On October 7th, 2020, the Chilean congress made history in the world of Neurotechnology. It presented an amendment to the Constitution that defines mental identity, for the first time in history, as a right that cannot be manipulated. Second, the congress presented a Neuroprotection Bill that includes the five fundamental principles stem from the work of the Morningside Group, created in 2019 by Dr. Rafael Yuste, founder of the NeuroRights Initiative, and consists of 25 international neuroscientists, lawyers, and ethicists. 

While the Chilean Congress was unable to hold the event in person, due to the current circumstances, scientists, politicians, and members of the private sector came together online. The attendees included the president of the Future Challenges Commission of the Chilean Senate; Senator Guido Girardi, the president of the Chilean Academy of Sciences, Cecilia Hidalgo; the President of the University of Chile, Ennio Vivaldi; the President of the Catholic University, Ignacio Sánchez; the Secretary of State for Digitalization and AI of Spain, Carmen Artigas; the Director of Investigation of IBM, Darío Gil; the resident of the Interparliamentary Union, Gabriela Cuevas, and the lawyer Ciro Colombara.

On December 16th 2020, the Chilean Senate unanimously approved the Constitutional Reform and Neuroprotection Bill presented in October. This makes Chile a pioneer in the incorporation of NeuroRights. And, for the NeuroRights Initiative, these events mark a pivotal moment in the field of neuroethics.

 Science Minister Couve (left), President Piñera (2ndfrom left), Professor Yuste (3rdfrom left) and Senator Giradi (right)


On October 7th, 2020, the Chilean congress presented an amendment to the Constitution that defines mental identity, for the first time in history, as a right that cannot be manipulated. Additionally, the amendment states that any mental intervention, including medical therapies, must be legally regulated. 

On April 12th, 2021 the Chilean congress approved the final text amending article 19 of the Constitution endorsing the rights to physical and mental integrity and protecting cerebral activity and its data.


On October 7th, 2020, the Chilean congress also presented a bill that includes five fundamental principles: the right to personal identity, free will, mental privacy, equitable access to technologies that augment human capacities, and the right to protection against bias and discrimination. These five principles stem from the work of the Morningside Group, created in 2019 by Dr. Rafael Yuste, founder of the NeuroRights Initiative, and consists of 25 international neuroscientists, lawyers, and ethicists. 

This new bill (“Proyecto de Ley”) on NeuroProtection defines all data obtained from the brain as “NeuroData” and applies to them the existing legislation on organ donations, outlawing the commerce of NeuroData. It also applies medical legislation to the future use and development of Neurotechnology.

A deontological set of ethical guidelines is being drafted by a group at the Catholic University for the computer, AI and neuroengineering industries. The Catholic University is studying instituting this code into their Engineering School curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate level.

A vigorous outreach campaign has taken place in the media, universities, private sector and governmental organizations. This culminated with a meeting on October 3rd, 2019 at the Presidential Palace between Science Minister Couve, President Piñera, Professor Yuste, and Senator Giradi, where the Chilean Government agreed to provide official backing for the NeuroProtection agenda.

Professor Rafael Yuste, together with the Chilean senate, specifically the Challenges of the Future commission, the Neuroethics Group of the Universidad Alberto Hurtado, and Columbia Global Centers are organizing a virtual workshop on NeuroRights that will be held on  March 17 - 19, 2021. 

For more information and registration visit:



NeuroProtection in Spain

In July 2020, Dr. Rafael Yuste joined the National Advisory Council for AI in Spain. The group is composed of Spanish experts of recognized international prestige, including representatives from the scientific, economic and educational fields. It is within their objectives to complete and implement the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. They will analyze the implications that these technologies have in various areas such as business, the future of employment, the protection of fundamental human rights, and data management to fight against discrimination.

On November 17th 2020, Rafael Yuste participated in the Spanish Government's Public Presentation of the Digital Rights Charter, which is a document that contains ethical and legal guidelines concerning AI and Neurotechnology. The charter also addresses the five NeuroRights. 

On December 2nd 2020, Pedro Sánchez, the President of Spain, presented the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy of the SEDIA (Secretary of State for Digitalization and AI) at the Palacio de la Moncloa in Madrid, Spain. The strategy will be funded by a public investment of 600 million euros for the years 2021-2023 and its goal is to support the development of an inclusive, sustainable AI, centered around the protection of citizens. Dr. Rafael Yuste, the NRI Director, attended and supported the presentation through an online conference from New York City. This makes Spain the second country, after Chile, to take action on NeuroRights!


Legal Documents:

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) Symposium

On November 19th, the Symposium on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) was successfully hosted virtually by the NeuroTechnology Center at Columbia University and the NeuroRights Initiative at Columbia University, with sponsorship from the Columbia IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency and the Columbia Data Science Institute.

The conference featured 21 interdisciplinary leaders in BCI innovation, data privacy and security, and ethical technology. 

The full-day conference consisted of four different sections with different speakers: BCIs in Academia, BCIs in Industry, Data Handling and Security, and Societal Impact and Regulation. Each of the sections were followed by a panel discussion between the speakers involved.

The first Keynote Speaker was Darío Gil from IBM, who discussed BCIs in industry and the importance of ethical and legal regulation of AI and neurotechnology.

The second Keynote Speaker was Eberhard Fetz from the University of Washington, who gave a talk about Closed-Loop BCIs.

Read more on the speakers in each section below:


Speakers in the BCIs in Academia section included Professor Ken Shepard from Columbia University who gave a talk on flexible CMOS neurotechnologies, Ed Boyden from MIT on tools for mapping, recording, and writing to the brain, Edward Chang from UCSF on the technology of brain to text, and additional speakers in academia from UC Berkeley(José Carmena) and Columbia University(Paul Sajda). 

Speakers in the BCIs in Industry section included Mark Chevillet from Facebook’s reality labs, who talked about hands-free communication devices, Patrick House from Kernel who explained on Kernel’s Flow Device for precise brain imaging, Reardon from CTRL-Labs who talked on non-invasive wrist-wearables BCIs with high fidelity EMG, and additional speakers in the industry from Microsoft(Ed Cutrell) and Openwater(Mary Lou Jepsen). 

The third panel included talks on data handling and security in BCI such as a talk on Neurodata & Mental Privacy given by Jeff Rogers from IBM, a talk by Kristin Lauter from Microsoft on encrypted data and private AI, and a talk by Chaya Nayak from Facebook on enabling privacy-preserving data sharing. The last talk in the panel was given by Xabi Uribe-Etxebarría, on the artificial intelligence company Sherpa.AI, and federated learning. 

Speakers in the Societal Impact and Regulation section included Francesca Rossi from IBM, who talked about Neuroethics vs AI ethics, and Anna Wexler from The University of Pennsylvania, who expanded on the past, present, and possible future of BCIs. 

The symposium ended with two talks by Sara Goering from the University of Washington, and Brain Researcher Rafael Yuste from Columbia University on the Implementation of NeuroRights.