Four Rights to Preserve Our 'Cognitive Liberty'

Cutting-edge neurodevices, such as sophisticated neuroimaging and brain-computer interfaces (BCI), enable to record, decode and modulate the neural correlates of mental processes. Research shows that the combination of neuroimaging technology and artificial intelligence allows us to “read” correlates of mental states including hidden intentions, visual experiences or even dreams with an increasing degree of accuracy and resolution.

While these advances have a great potential for research and medicine, they pose a fundamental ethical, legal and social challenge: determining whether, or under what conditions, it is legitimate to gain access to, or to interfere with another person’s neural activity.

We are facing a societal challenge: determining what rights individuals are entitled to exercise in relation to their mental dimension, write Roberto Andorno, a bioethicist at the University of Zurich, and Marcello Ienca at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel. "This challenge might require the reconceptualization of existing human rights and even the creation of new neurospecific human rights." 

Here are four they propose: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.