International Neuroethics Society 2014 Annual Meeting

Chelsea Ott, International Neuroethics Society Communications Manager, gives us the rundown on what to expect at this year’s International Neuroethics Society annual meeting in November in DC. Registration is open now.

Don’t miss the Annual Meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS) at the beautiful American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) building on November 13th and 14th—right before the Society for Neuroscience Meeting. There is a remarkable line-up of speakers and captivating topics, so be sure to check out the full agenda on our website, In addition to the panels, there are networking opportunities during breakfast, lunch, and two receptions, as well as a working group dinner on the 13th.

Remember to register before September 15th for a discounted rate! Space is limited!

Thursday, November 13
Neuroscience Knowledge & the Robotic Mind
Advances in knowledge about human cognition and emotion are increasingly being applied to the design and function of devices in sectors from manufacturing to health care. Recent developments include, for example, self-driving cars, wearable devices that monitor vital health signs, IBM’s computer Watson winning at Jeopardy!, and the digital personal assistants Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. Not far behind, perhaps, are autonomous weapon systems and shared decision making between humans and robots. This session will focus on the technical, ethical, and social implications of these and similar technologies. (This panel is open to the public and is followed by a reception.)

Friday, November 14
After welcome remarks by Barbara Sahakian (President of INS) and Alan Leshner (CEO, AAAS), Chaka Fattah, United States House of Representatives, will address the audience on the importance of neuroscience. Following his talk, four panel discussions will take place:

The BRAIN Initiative & the Human Brain Project
Both are ten-year research projects aimed at improving our understanding of how the brain works. In researchers’ efforts to comprehend the inner workings of the brain and develop new technologies, ethical issues will inevitably emerge. Some potential challenges include protecting personal neural data mined during research, determining if criminal responsibility exists as we better understand the brain’s functioning, and the potential discovery of neurodegenerative diseases.

The Future of Neuroscience Research & Ethical Implications
With the BRAIN Initiative and Human Brain Project underway, the potential for advances is at a new high, and researchers may begin to ask questions that we never thought could be answered. Panel moderator Alan Leshner says, “The new interagency brain initiatives have great potential to take advantage of the dramatic advances we have made in the last decade and continue to accelerate progress in both basic and clinical neuroscience.”

Neuroscience in the Courts–International Case Studies
Fundamental questions are being raised about the way legal systems attribute responsibility and blame using neuroscience. Despite widespread interest, there has been little research into the extent neuroscience actually appears in court. Our panel speakers have adopted similar methodologies, replicating Duke Professor Nita Farahany’s approach in the USA, to assess the extent and ways in which defendants use such evidence in criminal cases in five countries. This session will particularly consider court findings in relation to juveniles and adolescents.

Neuroscience and Human Rights
One of the goals of the INS is “to create bridges between advances in neuroscience and the world of policy and ethics.” However, neuroethics has not yet defined its relation to human rights, which is the focus of this session. This discussion will integrate a human rights-based approach into existing neuroethics discourse with two objectives. First, it provides a set of norms that clarify some of the ethical concerns associated with applications of current neuroscience research. Second, the universal acceptance of human rights through numerous international treaties and other normative instruments provides a global standard that can contribute to policy among countries.

Tell your colleagues. Send your students. Visit the International Neuroethics Society website for the full agenda and remember to register before September 15th for a discounted rate!

Space is limited. Contact Karen Graham at with any questions.

-Chelsea Ott

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