Chile is in the process of becoming the first country in the world to legislate on neurotechnologies and to include in its Constitution brain rights or “neuro rights” which could be the seed of future jurisprudence in the field of human rights.
The bill has already been passed unanimously in the Senate and must now be approved by the Chamber of Deputies.
The constitutional reform under consideration intends to preserve the “physical and psychological integrity” of the citizen, so that “no authority or individual” can, through new technologies on the human brain, “increase, decrease or disrupt that individual integrity without the proper consent ”.
Senator Guido Girardi, one of the promoters of the text that transcends political divisions, explains that it aims to protect the “last frontier” of human beings: their minds.
Chilean lawmakers believe that neurotechnologies are capable of setting up “reading” and “writing” processes in the brain to record a person’s mental data and, in the near future, modify or modify it. add news.
“If this technology can read (your thoughts), before you even know what you are thinking, it can write emotions, thoughts, life stories in your brain that are not yours and your brain will not be able to distinguish as your own or a pure artificial creation ”, underlines the senator.
Hence “the importance”, according to him, of legislating now on a future reality which could threaten “the essence of the human being, his autonomy, his freedom and his free will”.
Has reality therefore already caught up with science fiction?
Asked by AFP, one of the world experts in the field, the Spanish scientist Rafael Yuste, assures that researchers have already succeeded in implanting in the brain of mice images of things that they have never seen, that they assimilate to their own ideas and incorporate into their natural behavior.
“If you can get into that,” the chemical processes in the brain, “stimulate or inhibit them, you can change people’s decisions. This is something that we are already doing with animals ”, assures this researcher from Columbia University in New York (United States).
But he reassures: “Neurotechnology can be scary if one thinks of dystopian scenarios, but for each there are ten beneficial scenarios”.
He cites as an example the possibilities in the near future to cure deafness with implants, or blindness after convincing laboratory tests on chimpanzees. Or even to implant brain stimulators capable of improving the lives of patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.
In another area, he reports that the American social network Facebook “is developing a brain-computer interface connected directly to the screen” and intended to “replace keyboards”.
“I’m giving them at least five years to bring a device to market that can write 100 words per minute with 1,000 words of vocabulary,” he says. This neurotechnology would be “not only able to decipher the words you want to write, but possibly other types of thoughts or mental states as well.”
Faced with these discoveries, the Chilean bill intends to legislate in four fundamental areas: the safeguard of the data of the human mind or “neurodata”, the establishment of the limits of the neurotechnology of reading and especially of writing in the brain, determining an equitable distribution of access to these technologies and setting the limits of “neuroalgorithms”.
Because, according to Rafael Yuste, within a decade could appear hybrid humans, cognitively augmented thanks to neurotechnologies, with ideas or knowledge that would be the fruit of algorithms.
“To avoid a two-tier situation with augmented humans and others who are not, we believe that these neurotechnologies should be regulated from a point of view of a universal principle of justice, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration. of human rights, ”he said.
During the 27e Ibero-American summit at the end of April in Andorra, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera also proposed to the participating countries to jointly legislate on these rights of a new kind.