In 1975, Paul Berg convened a conference in Asilomar, California, of biologists, lawyers, physicians, and others, to discuss how the biotechnology community would voluntarily regulate itself. The outcome was a set of rules and guidelines that, to this day, have helped biotechnology make great contributions to human life, in a safe and ethical manner. With the neurotechnology industry entering its period of growth, arguably now is the time to hold an "Asilomar of the Brain".
In 2020, we will convene leaders in science, medicine, and industry, as well as philosophers, lawyers, and ethicists, to discuss the guidelines that brain engineers will follow in the years to come, in an open and public way, both to ensure the ethical and safe furthering of this industry, as well as to encourage a dialogue with the public.
One possible outcome would be a document, signed by the participants, declaring what our values and principles should be, as well as committing to follow them. Unlike all other neuroethics conferences, which have primarily focused on talks and seminars, this will be highly participatory: the goal is not to talk to each other, but to talk with each other.
Just as the 1974 Asilomar conference set the stage for a half century of bioengineering, the 2020 Asilomar BrainMind conference has the chance to set the stage for a half century of neuro-engineering.
We hope you can join us.