Potomac Institute’s Center for Neurotechnology Studies Leads Discussion on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues at Key Neuroscience and Cognitive Studies Conference
Arlington, VA—As a leading science and technology think-tank, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies proudly co-sponsored the fourth Decade of the Mind symposium, which took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 13-15, in conjunction with the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies of George Mason University (VA) and Sandia National Laboratories (NM), among others. The Potomac Institute organized a pre-conference workshop on NeuroEthics, Legal, and Social Issues (NELSI-2). Dr. James Giordano, the director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS) and Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute, chaired the NELSI conference, and set the scope and tenor of the meeting in an opening presentation on neuroethics entitled “Overview of the Field: Boundaries and Frontiers.” The Potomac Institute organized a pre-conference workshop on NeuroEthics, Legal, and Social Issues (NELSI-2). Dr. James Giordano, the director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS) and Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute, chaired the NELSI conference, and set the scope and tenor of the meeting in an opening presentation on neuroethics entitled “Overview of the Field: Boundaries and Frontiers.”
The Decade of the Mind community seeks to understand, maintain, and model the phenomenon of the mind within a trans-disciplinary effort involving neuroscience, cognitive and social psychology, computational engineering, philosophy and ethics. By putting on the NELSI-2 conference, the Potomac Institute’s Center for Neurotechnology Studies served the Decade of the Mind project by posing ethical and legal factors that can affect the scope and impact of such research, and offering potential paradigms and methods to minimize risks and enhance the benefits that such discoveries may offer to healthcare, national security, and society at-large.
"The NELSI-2 conference allowed the participants to engage the Decade of the Mind meeting -- and overall agenda -- with a new appreciation for the gravitas of these research directions and their implications," remarked Dr. Giordano, who spearheaded NELSI-2. "As a result, we found that the Decade of the Mind scholars affirmed that ethics should inform, guide, and enrich our future discoveries of the mechanisms of the mind, and what this information means for the conduct of science and human interaction."
The NELSI meeting is the second conducted by CNS as part of its ongoing work with the scientific community and government to ensure responsible neuroscience research and development of neurotechnologies. NELSI-2 demonstrated the beneficial possibilities of neurological research, such as how current brain science can enhance education and medicine. The burdens, risks and responsibilities inherent to conducting (and using) such research were also discussed. In a concluding address, Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, Chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics, reinforced that while neuroethics may be a young field, its questions and problems are perdurable and there is a need for reflection and prudent action that must be grounded to an appreciation of the vulnerabilities of the human condition and public responsibilities of science. He emphasized the importance of ethicists and scientists working hand in hand.
"In the quest to understand the human mind, the Decade of the Mind will produce incredible discoveries. Along the way, NELSI provides guideposts, so that any new knowledge is used in ways that promote social good and human flourishing. Neurological research is an ever-evolving field of great consequence. We are proud to be able to lead the conversation addressing the core questions of ‘what’s next?’, ‘what does it mean?’, and ‘what can and should we do with this knowledge?’ within this bright community of researchers," comments Dr. Giordano.
To learn more about CNS, visit: www.potomacinstitute.org/cns. For more information on the three-day Decade of the Mind IV conference, visit: http://dom-4.org/ or to learn more about the NELSI-2 pre-conference, visit: http://www.dom-4.com/schedule%2008.html.