Future lawyers could bill ‘units of attention’ via computers hooked up to their brains, report claims

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By William Holmes on


Law Society commissioned report reveals possible uses of neurotech in legal profession 🧠 💡

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A leading academic has suggested that lawyers could one day use neurotechnology to charge clients via “billable units of attention”.

The report, Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession, which was commissioned by Law Society of England and Wales, considers the potential uses and challenges of neurotechnologies that connect users brains to computers.

The academic who complied the report, the University of Sydney’s Dr Allan McCay, discusses the possibility that lawyers might try to compete with other lawyers and AI systems employed in legal work by making use of neurotechnology.

Neurotechnology requires some sort of brain-computer interface. There are various methods currently being used and trialled from placing implants in a user’s brain to simply wearing a headset or wristband. This technology has already been used by medical professionals to treat Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

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It is thought that the technology has great potential to help monitor and treat schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. But it has also caused researchers like McCay to raise ethical concerns about issues such as the right to privacy, control over data produced by one’s brain and even brain hacking.

“This tech is coming, and we need to think about regulation now,” notes Dr McCay. “Action is needed now as there are already vested interests in the commercial world. We need decisions to be made at the level of society and at the level of businesses around ethics and law.”

Its impact on criminal law and the criminal justice system is another important theme for Dr McCay. His research moots the idea of brain-bracelets being worn by criminal offenders to track their thoughts, court orders being granted that ensure your brain is monitored at all times and considers the possibility of criminalising and sentencing thoughts that become criminal acts.

According to Dr McCay, this all “raises human rights concerns and there is now an important debate as to whether existing human rights protections are fit for purpose given the possibility of brain-monitoring and manipulation.”

You can access the full report here.

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