The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology (Hardcover)
A new dawn of brain tracking and hacking is coming. Will you be prepared for what comes next?
Imagine a world where your brain can be interrogated to learn your political beliefs, your thoughts can be used as evidence of a crime, and your own feelings can be held against you. A world where people who suffer from epilepsy receive alerts moments before a seizure, and the average person can peer into their own mind to eliminate painful memories or cure addictions.
Neuroscience has already made all of this possible today, and neurotechnology will soon become the “universal controller” for all of our interactions with technology. This can benefit humanity immensely, but without safeguards, it can seriously threaten our fundamental human rights to privacy, freedom of thought, and self-determination.
From one of the world’s foremost experts on the ethics of neuroscience, The Battle for Your Brain offers a path forward to navigate the complex legal and ethical dilemmas that will fundamentally impact our freedom to understand, shape, and define ourselves.
About the Author
Nita A. Farahany is the Robinson O. Everett Distinguished Professor of Law & Philosophy at Duke University, and Founding Director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. She is a frequent commentator for national media and radio and keynote speaker at events including TED, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the World Economic Forum, and judicial conferences worldwide. From 2010-2017, she served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She is also co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences and on the Board of Advisors for Scientific American. Farahany holds an AB (Genetics) from Dartmouth College, an ALM (Biology) from Harvard University, and a JD, MA, and Ph.D. (Philosophy) from Duke University.
“Nita Farahany writes with clarity and verve about the promise and perils of the neurotech revolution—offering a fascinating and provocative tour of technologies that have the power to transform our lives for the better and even what it means to be human. More importantly, she encourages a timely global conversation about how to ensure the ethical progress of neurotech to benefit all of humanity.”
—Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley biochemist, Innovative Genomics Institute founder, Nobel Laureate for co-inventing CRISPR technology
“Essential reading for anyone interested in neurotechnology and its coming impact on our society. Engineering neural implants to decode the brain seems hard to fathom, but this is easy compared to the ethical challenges that lie ahead. Farahany masterfully navigates the issues that confront us.”
—Edward Chang, M.D., Department of Neurological Surgery chairman, University of California, San Francisco
“Farahany poses the critical questions that can guide us as we navigate the hope and hype around neurotechnology, revealing both the promise for patients and the challenge for society. The Battle for Your Brain is a must-read.”
—Thomas Insel, M.D., author of Healing, former National Institute of Mental Health director, and codirector of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative
“This highly original and timely book explains why we cannot surrender our ‘last bastion of freedom,’ even as we fight with politics and persuasion for access to the fruits of brain science. Farahany alerts us to a struggle for control over access to sensitive personal information that demands everyone’s attention.”
—Anita Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and professor of philosophy, University of Pennsylvania Law School
“Farahany sounds a timely warning concerning current uses of neurotechnology by corporations and governments for monitoring, recognizing that these uses will grow more powerful and insidious. However, she is no enemy of technology. She presents a balanced view of risks and benefits of its uses by individuals, and makes her arguments in the context of a sophisticated understanding of individual liberty and its potential limits in a free society.”
—Steven Hyman, M.D., Stanley Center of Psychiatric Research director, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
“Nita Farahany persuasively demonstrates that rapidly approaching advances in neurotechnology will change politics, marketing, mental-health care, and dozens of other areas of daily life. The legal and ethical challenges she outlines are daunting, but The Battle for Your Brain arms us with the knowledge needed to fight for a future that includes individual privacy and free will.”
—Jules Polonetsky, CEO, Future of Privacy Forum
“As a well-established thought-leader in ethics and artificial intelligence, Professor Farahany is neither alarmist nor resigned over current trends but offers a measured manifesto of how we can channel technological progress for the benefit of humanity. However, the message is clear: if we do not institute the necessary safeguards now, humanity as we know it is imperiled.”
—Ahmed Shaheed, University of Essex professor, author of the United Nations’ first-ever report on freedom of thought
“The author’s even-handed approach is a refreshing reprieve from the dystopian pessimism that often accompanies discussions of these technologies, and the eye-popping examples show that the future may be closer than many assume. Readers will be enthralled.”
“An unsettling warning … [an] insightful report.”
“Ms. Farahany’s call for ‘prudent vigilance and democratic deliberation’ is much needed. In a world where even our dreams can be mined for data, we need more guides like her to think through the challenges ahead.”
—Wall Street Journal
"The Battle for Your Brain is a superb introduction to how rapidly advancing neurotech can either enhance or undermine free minds."
"The book is valuable reading, not only for those interested in neuroscience but also for anyone genuinely concerned about the challenges humanity will face in the near future."