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Date and Location

October 26, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET


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Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that read and interpret their users’ cerebral activity to generate commands which instruct machines to perform various tasks. Some BCIs are also able to modify brain activity via electrical stimulation. Today, BCIs are employed for the neuroprosthetic control of robot arms, to restore communication in individuals with impaired means of expressing themselves, or for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Simultaneously, a gradual crossing of the threshold from therapeutics towards human enhancement is taking place.

We are only at the very beginning of this journey, yet it appears beyond doubt already that BCIs are an innovation that is going to be transforming our lives in profound ways. While BCIs hold great therapeutic promise, their functional capabilities will likely also threaten basic human rights in unprecedented ways. This seminar covers three domains of such threats: the extraction of private mental data, neurocrime, and social stratification. We shall be exploring how BCIs can be employed to bypass the protective layer around our minds to gain direct access to information contained in our brains. We will analyse what consequences the disclosure of this data may have in different areas of life, and how it might be exploited by governments, companies, and other players.

We shall also reflect on attack vectors such as emotional manipulation and influencing of voting behaviour via BCIs, and discuss what legal status mental data should be accorded. Finally, we will consider the social dimension: the prospect of select groups of people enhanced by their BCI’s capabilities competing with non-enhanced individuals in sectors of society where BCI use confers a significant advantage.

This study group is open to HUID holders only and registration is required.