Neurotechnology is used to interact directly with the brain by monitoring and recording brain activity or acting to influence it. Advances in decades to come could lead to lawyers grappling with the human rights implications of brain monitoring and manipulation.
Neurotechnology can be implanted in the brain but it may also be external to the body in the form of a headset, wristband or helmet.
Our latest horizon scanning report, Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession, sets out the:
challenges and opportunities that developments in neurotechnology may bring for the profession, and
impact it may have on cognitive performance and the way lawyers work
How could neurotechnology affect you?
Our report unpacks:
what neurotechnology is
its emerging ripples of impact in society, and
the potential challenges, opportunities and questions facing the legal profession and the practice of law
We look at the legal implications of neurotechnology developments including: read here
Some tricky questions for the law will emerge, such as: “where do people end and the devices they use begin?”
Moving further into the future, it might be worth considering the possibility of lawyer and technology becoming less distinct than they are now.
Who wrote the report?
For this report we invited Dr Allan McCay to consider the emerging impacts of neurotechnology on law and the legal profession.
Dr McCay is deputy director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology and an academic fellow at the University of Sydney Law School.
He was named by Australasian Lawyer as one of the most influential lawyers of 2021 for his work in neurotechnology and the law.
Read the full report
Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession (PDF 9.3 MB)
Read a three-page summary of our ‘Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession‘ report (PDF 1.1 MB)
Find out more
Discover our horizon scanning series which discusses emerging topics and their possible impacts on the law and legal profession.
Our horizon scanning reports are one part of our wider futures and foresight programme. We explore drivers of change, emerging signals and ask questions about the future to help our members prepare for longer-term possible worlds.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
World Economic Forum: There Are ‘Rational’ Reasons To Microchip Your Child
The latest highly controversial technology/policy that the World Economic Forum (WEF) has set out to normalize is the idea of implanting tracking chips into humans.
It wasn’t that long ago that those speculating on a future where this is happening would get dismissed as conspiracy theorists, but now the world elites’ most vocal outlet is predicting that chip implants will eventually become just a commodity.
And the WEF makes a case that implanting chips into children could be viewed by parents as a “solid, rational” move. All of this crops up in a blog post on the organization’s website dedicated to the future of augmented reality (AR), and what is referred to as “an augmented society.”
Like in many of WEF’s other takes on the future of various types of technology, the emphasis is put on inserting the “right,” i.e., its own “vision” in the direction these should be developing, with the inevitable mention of undefined society stakeholders who will hold the key to the ethics issue of it all.
The WEF is talking up the allegedly broad usefulness of AR going forward in fields such as healthcare, education, and professional settings, with the underpinning notion of providing guidelines as to how to “ethically” regulate this vast potential power – and therefore, when all’s said and done, control it.
The WEF calls AR and similar tech transformative – but in need of “the right support, vision, and audacity.”
Once again it isn’t at all clear why “audacity” is thrown in, unless it is a euphemism to sell some pretty outrageous “visions” that the WEF is expressing, such as replacing drugs with brain implants that will manipulate the body with electrical pulses, and pairing all sorts of chips put into humans through surgery, with sensors one might find in a chair.
And so, with the human and the chair “seamlessly integrated,” the quality of life across the board shoots up, the Davos-based group promises.
“As scary as chip implants may sound, they form part of a natural evolution that wearables once underwent. Hearing aids or glasses no longer carry a stigma,” the blog post reads. “They are accessories and are even considered a fashion item. Likewise, implants will evolve into a commodity.”
But critics of these trends say their opposition has nothing to do with “stigmas” – rather with serious concerns about civil rights, privacy, and the very concept of human autonomy.