Neurotechnology, Freedom of Mind and Human Rights

in technology •  last year 

Are we as a species ready for more advanced neurotechnology? Should we have unrestricted development of such technology? When the freedom of our mind is being targeted, we better wake up and take notice, and some academics are doing just that with attempts to change human rights laws to prepare for possible threats from future advancements.

Neurotechnology (Image Courtesy www.yant and and trams to

Neurotechnology has existed for a while, through such devices like brain imaging that influence how we understand the brain and aspects of consciousness. The past 20 years has seen a maturing in this technology, making a significant impact on society by allowing a better understanding of how to treat physical and psychological issues. This technology opens unprecedented possibilities to repair or improve brain functions and begs the question of ethical considerations to be put in place.

As John Milton said: "Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind." But the last domain of freedom, of our inner sanctuary, our inner temple, is being threatened by neurotechnological development.

Updating Laws

New rights or laws need to be considered in order to protect all of us against the loss of privacy of our own minds. Such laws have been proposed by a review study: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.

As technological advancements are made with respect to the brain and consciousness, we need to make sure that our moral and ethical understanding keeps up the pace. Disregarding the moral equilibrium that is required to properly use technology is a problem. Being able to refuse coercive and invasive advances on our minds could not only protect the privacy of what we know and want to keep to ourselves, but also from possible physical and psychological damage that the wielders of this neurotechnology could do. Mind control is a distinct possibility.

If those in power want what you know bad enough, I doubt they would really care if you are negatively affected by the procedure. This can happen without our knowledge if the technology advances far enough, which puts our personal freedom at great risk.

Current Use

Brain imaging technology is already being used outside of mere medical research needs. Some companies use 'neuromarketing' to try to understand consumer behavior and find ways to influence customers into responding in the way they desire and want them/us to, such as increasing the likelihood of purchasing their product or service. Legal cases are also attempting to use it to assess or prove criminal responsibility through the risk of reoffending.

From Mind to Machine

What first started out as a tool to help individuals in the public domain, is now being developed by private interests to serve themselves. The more commonplace the technology becomes, the greater likelihood that it could potentially be hacked and allow someone to eavesdrop on the data and get access to someone's mind. There is already technology that acts as a brain-to-computer interface which allows the brain to directly manipulate technology. If this functionality spreads in society, people could be hacked through interfacing into such technology -- think of a Ghost in the Machine type of world where you brain can be hjacked.

Noninvasive electroencephalography based brain-computer interface enables direct brain-computer communication for training. (U.S. Army photo)

As we've seen in science fiction, many have already envisioned the possibility of controlling someone's mind with such technology. Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should or are even allowed to do it.

Using Restraint

Personally, I like much of the science-fiction related to ethical and moral concerns about future technology that is imagined to one day be possible. It's always wise to consider how the things we create can be misused and outweigh the potential benefits we see in them. AI movies are great at showing the dangers. We need to be eternally vigilante towards the potential implications of what we create.

Splitting the atom for energy might have seemed like a good idea as a source of energy for humanity, but then it was mostly used to develop death-weapons on a scale never before seen. Even the energy idea is dangerous because of a lack of considering the harm of anti-life radiation when things go wrong, as they have and will continue to go wrong. Many US nuclear facilities are in poor shape, and few in government are concerned it seems. The state of many nuclear facilities is in quite a disarray, given the danger the pose. Things can go wrong, and when they do, it's pretty bad (i.e Japan, Chernobyl).


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Hmm, this ties into a theory I was concerned about last year. There has been talk about uploading our brains to a computer. I was skeptical (and remain so to an extent) of this being perfected in such a way as one would retain the spark that makes one a human. Here is a link I have saved on this as it disturbed me greatly when I read it.

The other day, there was a blog post here on Steemit that talked of the EU wanting to pass legislation that would legally recognize robots as people.

(Not sure of the etiquette of posting a link to another post so to be safe I didn't post it)

I remembered when I first began reading of this stuff some time back, my first fear was that if this could be done, our minds would be collected onto hard drives into a library, much the way the Vatican collected other cultures information and hid it away in their library. Now I am seeing posts like this and the one I linked above, and it strikes me the whole thing could be more sinister than I had feared.

I have read for years of plans to depopulate the earth (agenda 21 being the most common talk). Are they going to trick people into the idea they will be immortal if they but give their consciousness to the machines? That we would have full legal protection as robots being a step to easing fears? Is it even possible (as I question), or perhaps just a trick to get volunteers to depopulate? Or worse, will it one day be mandatory as they are making vaccines?

"Everyone knows humans are destroying the planet. Become a robot and quit being so selfish. Besides, who doesn't want to live forever. What do you mean you want to remain human? I am turning you into the authorities. It is selfish people like you who cling to the past that are going to destroy the world if we don't stop you."

I doubt it's possible in the short term. Maybe never. We don't even understand how consciousness emerges from the brain fully to be able to replicate creating nit ourselves, let alone clone it to data machines. The best I think we could do at some point is like the movie Transcendence, a copy of memories that would form the identity, but wouldn't be like the original fully.

I big part of me wants to say no, as in no way would I want my mind being downloaded onto a machine with all of my thoughts feelings and experiences on a database for anyone to access... that’s creepy and scary, and not human!

However, we don’t really understand the brain or our consciousness in a scientific way.... it would be cool to see if we understand more about this life, but maybe that’s what we truly find out when we die and it isn’t meant to be discovered now. Apart from we just are, and that’s it. So many mysteries I would love to find out though! Even about the universe etc, simulations, holographic etc...

Yes, the emergence of consciousness from the brain is complex and not fully understood. It's a wondrous universe indeed. A simulation or hologram is likely bullshit as far as I'm concerned :P

For me this was a very interesting article. I think that the idea of regulating technology is pointless.

It's not going to happen, and if it pretends to happen it will be just that, pretend. Technology is a double edge sword, we have to stay atop of it intelligently.

Don't sign important rights away if it will fux you over in the end. Currently, all of that data harvesting is relatively unobtrusive, however when people accept that data harvesting is real and we're allowing it all of the time.

They will notice that their insurance company rates might have a little something to do with the social media posts that they made in the past.

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It seems unlikely but that doesn't mean they might not try to make it happen,no matter how sloppy it is ;)

Human behavior is consistent. If a buck can be made, the technology will be abused. Law or no law. Lawmakers are the often the main offenders. I'm not saying no laws should be passed. Just abuse will happen regardless.

yeah, law in books rightly done is just to force what people don't want to accept as what not to do, then there are laws that are wrong that get made too... having an awareness of issues needs seeing multiple things and the larger picture...

The thing they don't tell you is that electrical implants get rejected by the body. With all of the EMF around us, any metal installed in us is an antenna, and shocks the cells around it.

They are telling people to keep their cell phones away from their brains, and now, they want to put the cell phone in the brain?

But the worst thing is that our technology isn't a good tool. A hammer, you can tell very well what it is good for. Our phones, we don't even know if it is recording our voice or video.

The operating system should be able to answer, "What damn program was just accessing the microphone?" It should be able to tell you and then destroy the offending program. But, it can do neither. In fact, removing the offending program could very well brick your phone.

How is it that basic, necessary functions are missing on so much of our technology?

The operating system should be able to answer, "What damn program was just accessing the microphone?" It should be able to tell you and then destroy the offending program. But, it can do neither. In fact, removing the offending program could very well brick your phone.

How is it that basic, necessary functions are missing on so much of our technology?

Because it would impede their ability to spy on their cattle.

"What damn program was just accessing the microphone?"

Now that is a good idea ;)

Sometimes technology do more harm than good. If such brain technology is made, the danger of it being hacked or manipulated is real. They can steal someone's data and use it.
I read 2 years ago that a Russia billionaire has invested on cyborg which will be half human and robot in year 2030, I don't know how visible this is but an underground research might be ongoing where humans will be used as lab rat undermining the person's right.
Just yesterday, Australia parliament are debating on using a technology that will scan the faces of all citizen and they don't need a warrant to do that. The human right president in Australia and the citizens are kicking against it as their right to privacy will be denied.

All these information when gotten might hacked like you said and used to harm that person

yeah, dangerous potentials ahead :/

I hope the future will not only deny human privacy but also endanger the Human content with advance technology. we always want to something new but what we forget is the effect in the long run. thank [email protected] for bringing up such a topic!

I hope the future will not only deny human privacy but also endanger the Human content with advance technology.

I am hoping this is a misunderstanding based on language barriers. If not, then may you be one of the first in line for what you advocate for everyone else if it comes to be. It has been my wish that those who advocate for the enslavement/death of their fellow humans lead the way by example, becoming the first for their cause.

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woof, "the right to psychological continuity". that sounds like a black mirror episode waiting to happen.