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Foreword: Is a Global Governance Framework Necessary for Neurotechnology?


Neurotechnology is often recognized as “the field of devices and procedures used to access, monitor, investigate, assess, manipulate, and/or emulate the structure and function of the neural systems of animals or human beings.” Neurotechnology can help people with paralysis to move and feel, deaf people to hear, and blind people to partially see. Neurotechnology also has the potential to treat many diseases of the nervous system, neurological diseases, and mental illnesses, which represent a high cost in terms of health care expenditures. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), mental health illnesses drive economic costs of more than 4% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Neurotechnology is a booming sector. Over the past decade, the overall investments of 1,200 NeuroTech companies have amounted to $33.2 billion, and the numbers are still set to grow. Neurotechnology has implications for the health sector but also for commercial purposes, including in areas of education, gaming, entertainment, transportation, and much more—but at what expense to our mental integrity and our cognitive liberty? New advances in neurotechnologies include translating thought to text, controlling machines through brain to computer interfaces, “develop[ing] wearables to infer a person’s intended speech or movement,” monitoring attention levels and engagement, and implanting false memories into an animal’s brain.