New Paper Sets the Scene for Neurotechnology Regulation and the Role of Human Rights

4 December 2023

The past decade has seen a major transformation in the development, utility and availability of neurotechnology. Progress in brain mapping tools and machine learning has expanded its application beyond the medicine sphere, reaching the entertainment and lifestyle sectors. In large part, this has been facilitated by corporate actors entering the neurotechnology research, development and production space. This raises myriad concerns regarding possible misuse, emphasizing the necessity of suitable legal regulation. From a human rights perspective, particular concerns include the right to privacy, data protection, as well as employee rights and non-discrimination.

Our new Research Brief The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation provides a comprehensive background analysis of the complexities of regulating neurotechnology and the role of human rights in this process.

Authored by Dr Erica Harper, our Head of Research and Policy Studies, the paper marks the inception of our research project on neurotechnology and human rights, conducted in collaboration with the University of Geneva Neurocentre and the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) Advisory Committee.

‘The aim of the paper is to present what is a highly complex topic in an accessible manner, and from this enable meaningful stakeholder engagement. Understanding the forces driving the growth in the neurotech sector, as well as what the technology can, cannot and might do, is critical to identifying priority actions around regulation and safeguarding’ explains Dr Harper.

From Neuro-Enhancement to Weaponized Neurotechnology

The paper traces the evolution of neurotechnology, highlighting the involvement of the corporate sector, and the role played by machine learning. It examines four spheres of neurotechnology advancement —neuro-marketing, neuro-enhancement, brain monitoring, and weaponized neurotechnology— including their limitations, potential and possible externalities for human rights, social cohesion and conflict.

The final section considers emerging questions around regulation and the potential role of human rights in this context. The next steps in this research project include mapping where neurotechnology may impact human rights — both positively and negatively. ‘Only through an interdisciplinary process, engaging technologists, neuroscientists, ethicists, regulators, and human rights experts, can we forge regulatory solutions that foster innovation, uphold human rights, deter misuse, and ensure accountability’, explains Dr Harper.

A Dedicated Newsletter

As of January 2024, we are launching a dedicated newsletter to spotlight our work on digitalization.

Titled Digital Frontiers: Navigating Armed Conflicts and Human Rights in the Digital Age, this monthly newsletter will be your gateway to stay abreast of our research on the digitalization of armed conflicts and the human rights challenges posed by cutting-edge technologies, including neurotechnology. Beyond providing insights into our ongoing work, this monthly update will also keep you informed about the most recent news and developments in this ever-evolving landscape.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

GenTRACK Arab States Logo News

In Highlight: GenTRACK Arab States

4 June 2024

Via its DHRTTDs Directory, the Geneva Human Rights Platform provides a comprehensive list and description of such key tools and databases. But how to navigate them? Which tool should be used for what, and by whom? This interview helps us understand better the specificities of the May highlight of the directory: GenTRACK Arab States

Read more

GHRP Bologna Meeting News

Expert Roundtable Discusses Role of Local and Regional Governments in data collection for National Mechanisms

29 April 2024

The Geneva Human Rights Platform co-hosted an expert roundtable on 'Data Planning and Collection by National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-up', in Bologna, Italy.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

Read more

Garment workersto receive food from their factory during lunch time. This food is freely provided by their factory in order to ensure that workers eat healthy and hygienic food. Training

Business and Human Rights

2-6 September 2024

This training course will examine how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have been utilized to advance the concept of business respect for human rights throughout the UN system, the impact of the Guiding Principles on other international organizations, as well as the impact of standards and guidance developed by these different bodies.

Read more

Project

Follow-up Review Pilot Series

Started in November 2021

Read more

Panel Discussion: Project

Treaty Body Members’ Platform

Started in January 2014

The Treaty Body Members’ Platform connects experts in UN treaty bodies with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.

Read more

Cover of the 2023 Geneva Academy Annual Report Publication

Annual Report 2023

published on July 2024

Read more