Your Thoughts are Safe in Colorado

Artificial intelligence is leading to medical breakthroughs, including devices that can read minds and alter our brains.

According to Dr. Sean Pauzauskie, a Neurologist at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital, says there are approximately 30 neurotechnology devices available on the internet, including Emotiv, the first commercial-grade brain-to-computer interface, “Anything you want to do, you can move your computer with your mind, and you can control it with your mind using this device.”

The technology enables people who can’t move or speak to communicate with just a thought or expression. The typical price tag is $200-$400; the devices peer into your brain and alter it. Neurotechnology promises to improve brain function and identify impairments. Pauzauskie is using it to detect epileptic seizures in real-time.

The FDA does not regulate these commercial devices.

Elon Musk developed an implantable chip that allows people to move a computer cursor with their thoughts. Apple, Meta, and Open-AI have solutions on the drawing board.

“The benefits are going to be off the charts. Patients are going to have dozens of more options,” Pauzauskie says. But with the benefits come risks, “Our brains make us what we are so it is some of the most sensitive data you can share with anyone.”

While medical research facilities are subject to privacy laws, private companies are not. A study by The Neurorights Foundation found that two-thirds already share or sell the data with third parties. They also don’t disclose where the data is stored, how long they keep it, who has access to it, and what happens if there’s a security breach.

Pauzauskie led the passage of a first-in-the-nation law in Colorado. It includes biological or brain data in the State Privacy Act, like fingerprints, if the data is being used to identify people. Pauzauskie suggests privacy protections should be a no-brainer, “It’s everything that we are. It’s everything about our thoughts, our emotions, our memories, our intentions.”

The new law takes effect on Aug. 8, but it is unclear which companies are subject to it and how it will be enforced. They are now pushing for a federal law and even a global accord.

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