When technology can read minds, how will we protect our privacy

“When technology can read minds, how will we protect our privacy?” is a TED talk by Nita Farahany held in november 2018. She begins the speech by mentioning the Iranian Green Movement which was a protest movement against the Iranian government. The government cut the communication between protesters. With growing capabilities in neuroscience, artificial intelligence and machine learning which can restrict our mental privacy, the Iranian government could have had access to the protesters’ thoughts and feelings.

Nita Farahany worries and believes that it can become a reality. For instance, in China some workers are already required to wear EEG devices. It means that our right of cognitive liberty is threatened. However, she suggests it should be recognized as a part of the universal Declaration of Human rights.

In Nita Farahany’s TED talk held in 2018: “When technology can read minds, how will we protect our privacy?”, she highlights how the development of technology can affect and threaten our cognitive liberty and self-determination. However, there are pros to new knowledge within technology. But how can we secure advancement of new technologies without compromising for our human rights?

Farahany highlights the pros and cons and illuminates the subject from several points of view. One of the greatest benefits of growing capabilities in neuroscience is to empower people to know more about themselves and their health. Paraplegic and epileptic people can be advantaged by new technologies. However, she maintains that we need to worry.

“I worry that we will voluntarily or involuntarily give up our last bastion of freedom, our mental privacy.” (p. 2, l. 39). Here she expresses that we have a reason to be concerned. She believes that the evolution of being able to decode thoughts and brain data is a breach of privacy and freedom. It would no longer be a choice of yours to share a political viewpoint, your sexuality or a crazy thought.

Farahany’s expresses an alarming and probably her biggest concern: “(...) I don’t think people understand that that could change everything.” (p. 2, l. 48). This phenomenon is not that far away, she claims.
In China, some train drivers and factory workers are already obliged to monitor their activity in the brain by wearing an EEG device.

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