“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”
-George Orwell, 1984
The quoted sentence conveys the idea that the mind is a kind of last refuge of personal freedom and self-determination. While the body can easily be subject to domination and control by others, our mind, along with our thoughts, beliefs and convictions, are to a large extent beyond external constraint. Yet, with advances in neural engineering, brain imaging and pervasive neurotechnology, the mind might no longer be such an unassailable fortress. Today, pervasive neurotechnology applications include brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for device control or real-time neuromonitoring, neurosensor-based vehicle operator systems, cognitive training tools, electrical and magnetic brain stimulation, wearables for mental wellbeing, and virtual reality systems. Mental decoders are capable of decoding mental states and translating them into observable outputs such as text, verbal signals or graphic images. For example, Herff and Mirkovic have independently demonstrated the effectiveness of a decoder capable of reconstructing speech from brain waves. While these advances can be greatly beneficial for individuals and society, they can also be misused and create unprecedented threats to the freedom of the mind and to the individuals’ capacity to freely govern their behavior.
We claim that, similarly to the historical trajectory of the ‘genetic revolution’, the ongoing ‘neuro-revolution’ will reshape some of our ethical and legal notions. In particular, we argue that the growing sensitivity and availability of neurodevices will require in the coming years the emergence of new rights or at least the further development of traditional rights to specifically address the challenges posed by neuroscience and neurotechnology. This argument is in accordance with the observation of how human rights have historically emerged and developed in modern societies. Human rights, in fact, have always arisen as specific responses to recurrent threats to fundamental human interests (Nickel 1987), to human dignity (Habermas 2010), or to what is required by a “minimally good life” (Fagan 2005). The individual quest to exert control over one’s own neuro-cognitive dimension as well as the emergence of potential threats to basic human goods or interests posed by the misuse or inadequate application of neurotechnological devices require a reconceptualization of some traditional human rights or even the creation of new neuro-specific rights.
We are lobbying directly to current Members of Parliament, in the government of Canada, for sponsorship regarding the support of the Neuro-Specific Human Rights Bill. We will be donating funds to the campaigns of certain MPs in exchange for live meetings where we can provide them in-person presentations. These presentations will elaborate on how vital these human rights are, and the potential unintended consequences that could arise if we do not enact them into legislation. We strongly believe that we can find numerous MPs that would be willing to sponsor this bill, and use it as a part of their campaign platform for the upcoming federal election in October. We will also hire a team of lawyers (who specialize in constitutional law), neuroscientists, neuroethicists, technology developers, and human rights advocates. This team will focus on perfecting the bill, and eliminate any potential loopholes that may surreptitiously allow these rights to be violated.
Pending on the financial success that this campaign generates; we will branch out to other countries across the globe. We will be focusing our lobbying efforts on the political administration of countries that have the highest probability of successfully enacting this bill into legislation. After a large enough precedent has been set, we firmly believe that this bill will be enacted into the legislation of every country worldwide. We will not rest until we achieve this goal, and the brains of every man, woman, and child are protected. Please help us in our efforts, thank you.