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Book Review: The Battle for Your Brain

Just over a year ago, near the end of my third year of law school, I felt like I was losing some of my knowledge from my first degree in neuroscience. I had a touch of FOMO, and didn't want to lose that knowledge. So, I decided to get a student subscription to Science magazine to keep my knowledge up-to-date. I'm glad I did, because had I not, I might have missed out on knowing that Nita Farahany's recently published book, The Battle for Your Brain, existed.

As stated in the book's description, "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."

I'm truly glad I read this. I imagined that neurotechnology would someday be a part of our everyday lives, but I couldn't have imagined how mainstream it already is. To give an example, Farahany discusses how the concept of neuro marketing was used for market the film Avatar, and then dives into a discussion on whether neuromarketing as a concept is ethical, or whether consumers ought to protected against this type of potential manipulation.

The author discusses both the benefits and dangers of this type of neurotechnology to our society - from medicine to marketing to warfare. She begins by discussing her own problems experiencing migraines and how neurotechnology has helped her overcome them, but later goes on to discuss how brain monitoring could be used nefariously for government surveillance purposes, especially in authoritarian countries. She discusses the need to amend existing human rights laws and treaties to include the concept of cognitive liberty and freedom of thought. Without the existence of these rights, she argues, this emerging technology could be abused in order to manipulate consumers and citizens either to spend their hard-earned dollars without realising they're being manipulated, or to co-opt the brains of citizens by foreign governments.

I honestly can't remember the last time a book made me think so much. If cognitive liberty or privacy rights are something that you find interesting, or you're just a bit of a tech geek like myself, (or you're passionate about human rights more broadly), then this book is for you.

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