Neurotech could connect our brains to computers. What could go wrong, right?
Connecting our brains to computers may sound like something from a science fiction movie, but it turns out the future is already here. One expert argues it's a slippery slope.
Who is she? Nita Farahany is professor of law and philosophy at Duke Law School. Her work focuses on futurism and legal ethics, and her latest book, The Battle For Your Brain, explores the growth of neurotech in our everyday lives.
What's the big deal? You mean aside from the prospect of having your brain tracked? Farahany worries about potential privacy issues, and outlines various scenarios in which access to this information could be problematic, if the right protections aren't put in place.
Want more insight on the tech world? Listen to the Consider This episode about how Silicon Valley Bank failed, and what comes next.
What is she saying?
Farahany on defining cognitive liberty:
The simplest definition I can give is the right to self-determination over our brains and mental experiences. I describe it as a right from other people interfering with our brains ... It directs us as an international human right to update existing human rights — the right to privacy — which implicitly should include a right to mental privacy but explicitly does not.
On the existing practice of tracking employees with tech:
When it comes to neurotechnology, there's already — in thousands of companies worldwide — at least basic brain monitoring that's happening for some employees. And that usually is tracking things like fatigue levels if you're a commercial driver. Or if you're a miner, having brain sensors that are embedded in hard hats or baseball caps that are picking up your fatigue levels. ... In which case it may not be that intrusive relative to the benefits to society and to the individual.
But the idea of tracking a person's brain to see whether or not they are focused, or if their mind is wandering — for an individual to use that tool, I don't think that is a bad thing. I use productivity focused tools. And neurotechnology is a tool given to individuals to enable them to figure out how and where they focus best. But when companies use it to see if their employees are paying attention, and which ones are paying the most attention, and which ones have periods of mind wandering, and then using that as part of productivity scoring, it undermines morale, it undercuts the dignity of work.
So, what now?
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