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A Technocratic Oath

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Part of the Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment book series (ETHICSSCI,volume 49)

Abstract

In the last decades, novel neurotechnologies are enabling the collecting and analyzing of neuronal data as well as the targeted alteration of brain activity. While this progress has the potential to help many patients with neurological or mental diseases, it also raises significant ethical and societal consequences, putting the mental privacy, identity and agency of citizens potentially at risk. As one approach to provide ethical guidelines to novel neurotechnologies, we propose a “Technocratic Oath,” as a pledge of simple, fundamental ethical core principles to be adopted by Neurotechnology developers and the industry. Our proposed Technocratic Oath is anchored on seven ethical principles: beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice, dignity, privacy and transparency. The Technocratic Oath is modelled after the Hippocratic Oath, a pledge taken by all physicians as they enter the medical profession. While legally non-binding, the professional weight of the Hippocratic Oath has historically led to responsible practices in the world of medicine. Similarly, the Technocratic Oath could help establish and propagate a core of ethical principles to ensure responsible innovation and to protect the fundamental human rights of patients and consumers.

Keywords

  • Technocratic oath
  • Ethical principles
  • Education
  • Responsible work
  • Neurotechnologies

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-94032-4_14
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Acknowledgements

Supported by the IBM—Columbia University Data Science Institute grant (“Noninvasive Brain Computer Interface Data: Ethical and Privacy Challenges;” R. Yuste and Ken Shepard, PIs.), NSF DBI 1644405 (“Coordinating Global Brain Project;” R. Yuste and C. Bargmann, PIs.) and of the Precision Medicine & Society Program, from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons (“Genomic Data Regulation: A Legal Framework for NeuroData Privacy Protection;” R. Yuste, and G. Hripcsak, PIs), FONDECYT Postdoctorado 3190914 to Leonie Kausel.

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Correspondence to Rafael Yuste .

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Álamos, M.F. et al. (2022). A Technocratic Oath. In: López-Silva, P., Valera, L. (eds) Protecting the Mind. Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment, vol 49. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94032-4_14

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