Conversations About Ethics

Is My Mind Mine? Neuroscience, Privacy and the Self

Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D

For the first time in human history, we are developing the ability to apprehend information directly from the brain. Brain imaging and allied technologies now allow scientists a glimpse into the subjective thoughts and inner dialogues that have always been private and inaccessible to others. By doing so, they are forever changing the very idea of privacy, raising thorny questions about who should have access to our innermost thoughts. In this talk, we explore the implications of brain imaging not only for personal privacy, but also for legal questions such as Fifth Amendment protections.

  • Do we have an absolute or relative right to cognitive privacy? Forensics, Security, Civil, School, Parental -- for what and on whom will it be used?
  • Will we allow covert use? Who will assume what roles in deciding if the technology is accurate, safe, proper? Courts, legislature, psychologists, legal scholars, ethicists?
  • What do we mean by “normal brains ” as we manipulate and alter our brain chemistry? How might we expand our ideas of brain function as we integrate information technology into our neural circuitry?
  • How much are we willing to change our ways of thought, feeling, and perceiving? How do we balance ideals of selfhood from ethics, religion, and cultural traditions with ideas of progress and individual liberty?
  • Will the new neurotechnologies threaten our current conceptions of selfhood, relationship?

CME: The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) accepts certificates of attendance for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

 Healthcare professionals receiving a certificate of attendance should consult with their licensing board for information on applicability and acceptance.

 †This presentation meets the Texas Medical Board criteria for formal continuing medical education involving the study of medical ethics and/or professional responsibility.

CNE: Dannemiller is a provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number 4229. This activity has been approved for 1.0 contact hour. Dannemiller has determined that this activitiy qualifies for 1.0 hour of credit in ethics.

CEU: The Ecumenical Center is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LSW, LCSW and LMSW.

This activity provides up to 1.0 ethics continuing education units.*

About the Speaker

Wolpe headshot (f).jpgPaul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Research Professor of Jewish Bioethics, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University.  Dr. Wolpe is also the Senior Bioethicist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He is Co-Editor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), the premier scholarly journal in bioethics, and Editor-in-Chief of AJOB-Neuroscience, and sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals. He is a past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest medical society.  Dr. Wolpe’s work focuses on the social, religious, and ideological impact of biotechnology on the human condition.  He sits on many national and international non-profit organizational boards, and consults for academic institutions and the biomedical industry.  Dr. Wolpe won the 2011 World Technology Network Award in Ethics, has recorded a TED Talk, was named one of Trust Across America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, and was profiled in the November, 2011 Atlantic Magazine as a “Brave Thinker of 2011.”   Chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America," Dr. Wolpe is a frequent contributor and commentator in both the broadcast and print media, recently featured on 60 Minutes and with a personal profile in the Science Times of the New York Times.

*You may only claim up to 1 continuing education unit for either the afternoon keynote or evening keynote. Not both.

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Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information)

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources)

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials)

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
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Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.