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September 14, 2014 AT 12:00 am

Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

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As we find ourselves implementing more and more cyborg-like technologies in and on our bodies, how do we navigate the slippery grey area of privacy rights in legal battles? Where does the “human” part of human rights begin and end? Could pleading the fifth become less and less of an option as cyborgs become a bigger and bigger part of our reality? Interesting topics to tackle on the horizon. From Motherboard:

“The more you take a thing with no rights and integrate it indelibly into a thing that we invest with rights, the more you inevitably confront the question: Do you give the thing with no rights rights, or do you take those rights away from the thing with rights?,” Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution told me.

Today, he and Yale Law student Jane Chong released a paper about the law and policy implications of becoming a cyborg.

“Unless one specifically engineers the cyborg to resist such collection or interception, it will by default facilitate surveillance,” Wittes wrote. And with it, society will, no doubt, change.

“A society of cyborgs—or a society that understands itself as on the cyborg spectrum—will have a whole different cultural engagement with the idea of electronic surveillance than will a society that understands itself as composed of humans using tools,” he added.

As you might expect, there are no easy answers. And until this stuff is truly ruled on by the court system or written into policy by lawmakers, no one’s sure how it will play out.

Back in 2011, Columbia law professor (and current candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New York) Tim Wu noted that we’re taking the first “very confusing steps into what is actually a law of cyborgs as opposed to human law.”

“What we’re confused about is that this cyborg thing, you know, the part of us that’s not human, non-organic, has no rights,” he said. “But we as humans have rights, but the divide is becoming very small. I mean, it’s on your body at all times.”

Read more.


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