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UN expresses concerns over fast-approaching neurotechnology

The rapid development of neurotechnology has caused many to raise concerns for the risks to individuals, even alongside the benefits.

A bearded man holding up fairy lights up to his face to illuminate his face in a blue-purple light representing neurotechnology.

According to the United Nations, we’re on the cusp of an existential threat that jeopardizes fundamental aspects of human existence – including the concepts of human identity, freedom of thought, privacy, and memory. 

The United Nations is cautioning against unregulated AI chip implantations in neurotechnology, citing significant concerns over mental privacy. The UN highlights the grave risks associated with such uncontrolled use of neurotechnology, which could have adverse long-term effects, such as influencing the thought processes of young individuals or accessing their private thoughts and emotions. Are we in the Twilight zone? The future is officially here, people. 

The UN’s concerns primarily revolve around “unregulated neurotechnology” without explicitly mentioning Neuralink, which obtained FDA approval in May for conducting trials of microchip brain implants in humans. The focus of their worries lies on the potential risks and implications of neurotechnology that lacks proper regulation and oversight.

Elon Musk, the co-founder of Neuralink, has made ambitious assertions about the potential of their chips, claiming they can provide cures for lifelong health problems, granting sight to the blind and restoring mobility to the paralyzed. However, the UN expressed concerns regarding the use of unregulated versions of this technology, warning of potential disastrous consequences, as it could enable unauthorized access to the thoughts of those utilizing it, as stated in a press release. 

In the press release, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay highlighted the potential benefits of neurotechnology in addressing various health concerns. However, she also expressed serious apprehensions about its capacity to access and manipulate individuals’ brains, potentially leading to the revelation of personal information related to identity and emotions. 

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Those capabilities, if left unchecked, could endanger fundamental rights like human dignity, freedom of thought, and privacy. To address these concerns, she stressed the urgent necessity of establishing a unified ethical framework at the international level, similar to what UNESCO has already achieved for artificial intelligence.

The main worry regarding neurotechnology is its potential to capture and record individuals’ reactions and basic emotions, which could be highly appealing to data-hungry corporations. The complexity of the issue intensifies when neural data is generated unconsciously, without the individual’s explicit consent for such information to be collected. UNESCO, in its release, emphasized that if sensitive data were to be extracted and end up in the wrong hands, the individual might face adverse and harmful consequences.

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.


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