Czech-French scholar Karel Vasak, breaks down human rights to three generations:
- Civil and political rights (right to life and political participation),
- Economic, social and cultural rights (right to subsistence)
- Solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean environment).
So what’s next?
In recent years we have seen such rapid advancements in the way technology is impacting our lives, if you did not already think you might be living in a Tom Cruise movie, let Nuralink do the last bit of convincing.
Elon Musk is known to take on the seemingly impossible and achieving radical success. So when he announced that to save humanity from the inevitable threat of artificial intelligence we are better off joining them and even setting an ambitious target of having healthy people installing these devices as a consumer product within the decade.
Facebook’s Building 8 research group is working on similar non invasive technology, that would be used like a headset that connect to your mind.
This new era will have some new human rights issues to address.
Some of these rights have been outlined by Marcello Lenca and Roberto Andorno at the University of Zurich.
“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,” they write. “Yet, with advances in neural engineering, brain imaging and pervasive neurotechnology, the mind might no longer be such an unassailable fortress.”
1. The Right to Cognitive Liberty
The first proposed new right is the right to “Cognitive Liberty,” which states that people have the right to use emerging neurotechnology to modify their mental activity. But it also protects the right to refuse to use it in situations such as an employer requiring workers to take advantage of devices that would improve their performance.
2. The Right to Mental Privacy
The right to “Mental Privacy,” which would protect people from third parties accessing data about their mental activity collected by a neurotechnology device without their consent.
The authors debate whether this right should be absolute or relative, though. In certain situations, allowing the state to access the thoughts of criminals and terrorists could have obvious benefits for society. But can erode the already well-established right not to incriminate oneself, widely recognized across the democratic world and enshrined in the Fifth Amendment.
3. The Right to Mental Integrity
The last two rights are intertwined and deal with the emerging ability to not just record mental activity, but directly influence it. The right to “Mental Integrity” effectively protects against people hacking brain implants to hijack or interfere with their mental processes or erase memories.
4. The Right to Psychological Continuity
The right to “Psychological Continuity” deals with the vaguer notion of attempts to alter someone’s personality or identity, either through similar brain hacking approaches or more subtle ones like neuromarketing, which can involve companies using insights from neuroscience to try and alter unconscious behavior and attitudes in consumers.
These proposals raise some important issues that will have to be tackled as neurotechnology becomes increasingly common. However, it remains debatable whether the invention of new human rights is the best way to tackle them.