- See also:
Graphene active sensor arrays for long-term and wireless mapping of wide frequency band epicortical brain activity
Interfacing Graphene-Based Materials With Neural Cells
- Article is machine Auto-translated from Spanish to English.
- Why we must ban our brain manipulation before it is possible
by JAVIER SALAS, https://elpais.com/ , 12 Feb 2020
Scientist Rafael Yuste, promoter of the largest initiative to understand the brain, calls on governments to create new laws to address the risks of neurotechnology.
“We have a historical responsibility. We are at a time when we can decide what kind of humanity we want.” They are capital words, as much as the challenge that Rafael Yuste poses. This Spanish neuroscientist, professor at Columbia University (USA), is whispered in his conscience by the ghosts of other great scientists in history who opened Pandora’s box. He, who has promoted the Brain initiative, the biggest bet to discover the secrets of the brain, does not evade his responsibility: “I carry it as a duty”. Yuste knows very well what his field, neurotechnology, is already capable of seeing and doing in our minds. And he fears that it will get out of hand if it is not regulated. That is why he calls on governments around the world to create and protect new rights: neurorights.
“The maximum privacy of a person is what they think, but now it is beginning to be possible to decipher it,” warns Yuste
Last year, Yuste managed to manipulate the behavior of some mice. And she did it by tapping into the tiny brains of these rodents, trained to sip juice when they see vertical lines on a screen. Yuste and his team had targeted the specific neurons that were firing at that moment and stimulated them directly when the bars were not visible on the screen. But the mice slurped juice as if they had seen them. “Here in Columbia a colleague of mine has developed a wireless visual prosthesis for the blind with a million electrodes, which allows a person to connect to the network. But it can also be used to create soldiers with super abilities”, warns Yuste. This device, financed by Darpa (the research agency of the US Army), could stimulate up to 100,000 neurons,
“In the short term, the most imminent danger is the loss of mental privacy,” warns Yuste, who launched his initiative for neurorights after discussing it in Columbia with a team of twenty-five specialists in neuroscience, law and ethics called the Morningside Group.. Many companies have already developed devices, usually in the form of a headband, to record the brain activity of users who want to mentally control drones and cars, or measure the level of concentration or stress of workers, as is the case with public drivers in China. They are also being used there with schoolchildren: the headband reads their brain waves and a little light shows the teacher the level of her concentration. The problem is that the company that sells them, BrainCo, aspires to obtain the largest database of this type of brain activity. The more data you have, the better and more valuable your readings will be, of course. When the technology industry has spent a decade extracting all the data they can get from the use of applications and devices,
“What worries me most urgently is the decryption of neurodata : the maximum privacy of a person is what they think, but now it is beginning to be possible to decrypt it,” warns Yuste. “We are doing it daily in laboratories with mice, as soon as private companies have access to this information, laugh at the privacy problems we have had so far with mobile phones. That is why we need neurorights, because it is a rights problem humans,” he sums up. The neuroscientist wants to alert the population because “there is no regulation and it affects basic human rights.”
The group promoted by Rafael Yuste develops its concerns around five neurorights :
1.- Right to personal identity . These specialists fear that connecting brains to computers will dilute people’s identity. When algorithms help make decisions, the selves of individuals can become blurred.
2.- Right to free will . This neuroright is closely connected with that of personal identity. When we have external tools that interfere with our decisions, the human ability to decide their future can be compromised.
3.- Right to mental privacy . Neurotechnology tools that interact with brains will have the capacity to collect all kinds of information about subjects in the most private sphere we can imagine: their thoughts. Experts consider it essential to preserve the inviolability of the ‘neurodata’ generated by human brains.
4.- Right to equitable access to augmentation technologies. Yuste believes that neurotechnologies will bring innumerable benefits to humans, but he fears that the inequalities and privileges of a few, who have access to these new human capacities, will multiply.
5.- Right to protection against bias and discrimination. In recent years we have known numerous cases in which programs and algorithms multiply prejudices and biases. This right intends that these failures are searched before starting.