Nita A. Farahany, Duke University

Professor Nikolas Rose, King's College London

Friday, 21 November 2014 at 14:00 in the Chadwick Amphitheatre, Institut Lauge-Langevin, Grenoble

Prof. Nikolas Rose, King's College London

The new big science of the human brain:
Social and ethical implications


In this talk, drawing on experience as a member of the social and ethical division of the Human Brain Project, I discuss some of the key social and ethical challenges raised by such large projects of brain research and their aspirations. These include the conceptual challenges of seeking a unified knowledge of ‘the brain’, the balance of privacy and the public good in plans to integrate and mine clinical data; issues of neural privacy, dual use and mind manipulation raised by the future of brain-computer interfaces and robotics; and the implications of the hypothesis that both mental disorders and neurodegenerative conditions are to be understood as ‘brain diseases’. I conclude with a brief discussion of the role of ‘responsible research and innovation’ in the governance of emerging technologies.


Nikolas Rose is Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College, London.  He was previously Martin White Professor of Sociology, and Director of the BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is also co-PI for the EPSRC funded Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI) and part of the Ethics and Society Division of the Human Brain Project. His recent work has focused on the drivers, nature and implications of developments in the life sciences and biotechnology and more generally on the relations between the social sciences and the life sciences. His most recent books are The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton, 2006); Governing The Present (with Peter Miller, Polity, 2008) and Neuro: the New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind (with Joelle Abi-Rached, Princeton, 2013). He is a longstanding member of the Editorial Board of Economy and Society, co-editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of the life sciences, and has been Chair of the European Neuroscience and Society Network, and a member of numerous advisory groups including the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

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