Applications in the field of neurotechnology raise issues of privacy, personhood, and discrimination. It therefore needs to be assessed whether these issues can be sufficiently addressed by the existing human rights framework or whether new human rights pertaining to cognitive liberty, mental privacy, and mental integrity and psychological continuity, need to be entertained in order to govern neurotechnologies.
To this end, the roundtable jointly organized by the Council of Europe and the OECD brought together international experts from academia, industry and policy to discuss human rights issues raised by the applications of neurotechnologies.
They proposed namely:
- to facilitate an inclusive societal deliberation on how such technologies should be deployed and regulated;
- to develop an Interpretative Guide to Adapting Existing Human Rights to neurotechnologies to guarantee that the protection of human rights is a guiding consideration throughout the entire process of research, development, and application.
What prompted the organisation of this round table and what were its objectves?
What are the key human rights challenges raised by the application of neurotechnologies?
What were the main conclusions drawn in respect of how best to govern/regulate neurotechnologies?
What actions have been identified to contribute to responsible developments/innovation in neurotechnology?
Strategic Action Plan on Human Rights and Technologies in Biomedicine (2020-2025)
Technological innovation often creates its own dynamic. Major technological breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, genome editing, and neurotechnology have the potential to advance biomedicine and healthcare. However, uncertainty exists about the impact and direction of these developments. For example, artificial intelligence is increasingly proficient in diagnostics but depends on massive amounts of patient data which may impact on transparency and patient trust, thereby necessitating the provision of guidance for healthcare professionals. Genome editing techniques which introduce inheritable changes in the human genome raise serious concerns about the possibilities of irreversible harm to future persons. Developments in neurotechnologies, such as deep brain stimulation, brain-computer interfaces, and artificial neural networks, raise the prospect of increased understanding, monitoring, but also of control of the human brain, raising issues of privacy, personhood, and discrimination.
The role of governance in biomedicine is often restricted to facilitating the applications of technology and to containing the risks that come to light. In this way, human rights considerations will only come into play at the end of the process, when the technological applications are already established, and the technological pathways often have become irreversible. To overcome this problem, there is a pressing need to embed human rights in technologies which have an application in the field of biomedicine. This implies that technological developments are from the outset oriented towards protecting human rights. For that reason, governance arrangements need to be considered, which seek to steer the innovation process in a way which connects innovation and technologies with social goals and values.
- "Neurotechnologies and Human Rights: Do we need new rights?" - Report of the Council of Europe and OECD Round table | DECEMBER 2022
- On common Human Rights challenges raised by different application of neurotechnologies in the biomedical field | by Marcello Ienca, october 2021