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Fostering ethical and legal frameworks for the research and development of neurotechnology

Brain / AI

By adopting a resolution today, based on the report by Olivier Becht (France, ALDE), the Standing Committee recommended “a sensitive and calibrated approach to regulation of emerging neurotechnology”, including brain-computer interfaces (BCI), encompassing ethical frameworks and binding legal regulation.

“The potential benefits of neurotechnology are huge, particularly in the medical field,” the parliamentarians stressed, but it should be developed with respect for human rights and dignity; it should not be used against a subject’s will or prevent him or her from acting freely and being responsible for their actions; and it should not create a privileged status for its users.

The Standing Committee therefore called on member States to “establish ethical frameworks for research, development and application of neurotechnology, including BCI”, taking into account core ethical principles set out in the resolution. At the same time, legal frameworks ensuring effective respect and protection of human rights must be clearly defined.

The parliamentarians also proposed the establishment and legal protection of new ‘neurorights’ – covering cognitive liberty, mental privacy, mental integrity and psychological continuity – to provide effective protection against the risks of BCI technologies, and to fill the gaps in the existing human rights framework.

They welcomed the work of the Council of Europe's intergovernmental committees in this field, and called on the Committee of Ministers to take into account the impact on human rights of AI in connection with brain-computer interface systems, when assessing the feasibility of a legal framework for AI.