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Milstein speaker to explore “The Battle for Your Brain”

Nita Farahany, a scholar who focuses on ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies, will be the featured speaker for an April 12 event hosted by the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity.

During “The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology,” Farahany will discuss her new book of the same title, which explores the implications – both positive and negative – of neurotech advances. The book uses startling examples of how our "cognitive liberty" is under threat and makes a call for "self-determination" over our thoughts and inner lives.

Nita Farahany

The talk is scheduled from 4:45-5:30 p.m. April 12 in Gates Auditorium of Bill and Melinda Gates Hal. The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for signing after the talk.

"Nita is a thought leader in law, genetics, neuroscience, and bioethics — exactly the kind of intersectional thinker that the Milstein Program was designed to support and celebrate," said Austin Bunn, associate professor of performing and media arts in the College of Arts & Sciences and director of the Milstein Program, "and one that our increasingly tracked, surveilled and measured society needs."

Farahany is the Robinson O. Everett Distinguished Professor of Law & Philosophy at Duke Law School, the founding director of Duke Science & Society, the faculty chair of the Duke master’s program in bioethics & science policy, and principal investigator of the SLAP (Science, Law & Policy) Lab at Duke.

She is a frequent commentator for national media and radio shows and a regular keynote speaker. She presents her work to diverse academic, legal, corporate, and public audiences including at TED, the World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival and scientific venues such as the Society for Neuroscience and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

In 2010, Farahany was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and served until 2017. She is an appointed member of the National Advisory Council for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke, an elected member of the American Law Institute and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Her new book talks about neurotech advances that have already created “a world where your brain can be interrogated to learn your political beliefs, thought crimes are punishable by law, and your own feelings can be used against you,” according to Farahany’s website.

At the same time, those same advances offer promise for people who suffer from epilepsy or for anyone dealing with painful memories or addictions.

“Neurotechnology will soon become the ‘universal controller’ for all of our interactions with technology,” the website says. “This can benefit humanity immensely, but without safeguards, it can severely threaten our fundamental human rights to privacy, freedom of thought, and self-determination.”

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