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On being transhuman: commercial BCIs and the quest for autonomy

On being transhuman: commercial BCIs and the quest for autonomy

Karanasiou, Argyro ORCID: 0000-0002-3268-4019 (2020) On being transhuman: commercial BCIs and the quest for autonomy. In: Barfield, Woodrow, (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of Algorithms. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 978-1108680844 (doi:

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Facebook’s catchphrase “What’s on your mind”, prompting the user to share thoughts with their digital social circles, has gained a new, literal meaning in recent years: targeted advertising, fake news and computational propaganda all being examples of mental ma-nipulation exerted for profit or for power through harnessing AI at scale for the purposes of online profiling. In most cases, this in-volves an elaborate interpretation of one’s digital footprint: the huge amount of data that is generated by our daily online and offline in-teractions and which defines our behaviour. This chapter takes a slightly different approach and seeks to explore the use of AI to re-trieve, analyse and predict data that has not been externalised, yet which most defines us: brain data. There has never been a more promising time in history for delineating the contours of human thought: Public and privately funded projects studying the human brain have produced a high vol-ume of scientific papers and findings in the last few decades, which more often than not are sensationalised in the news. The ambitious plan to explain the mysteries of the human brain has not fully materialised, however ambition drives profit, and therefore the idea of using AI to decode the human brain has been a fast growing commercial venture for many tech giants, who have been investing heavily in corporate R & D neurotech related projects. The chapter proceeds in four parts: Part 1 offers a historical overview of “mind reading” techniques, building up some context as to how the neurotech market boomed and started employing AI to unravel the mysteries of the human brain beyond the clinical sphere. This is then followed by a techno-legal evaluation of the monitoring, collection and analysis of brain imaging data from the use of com-mercial BCIs in Part 2. Building further on this, Part 3 explores the scope for user empowerment and agency in commercial BCI. This will lead to the main argument put forth in Part 4, namely the fact that commercial BCI constitutes a special case that seems to fall through the cracks of robust data protection frameworks, such as the GDPR. In conclusion, the chapter highlights the need for data protection laws to reflect the conceptual redefinition of autonomy in the light of AI- driven pervasive neurotechnologies.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: GDPR; BCI; privacy; health datasets
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2024 17:05

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