Neurotech Conference
Toronto, Canada
June 5, 2019

Breaking Through: Neurotechnology for High-Consequence Communication and Decision-Making


Wymilwood Lounge
Goldring Student Centre
Victoria University in the University of Toronto
150 Charles Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1K9


Cognixioin: AI-Powered People

The International Neuroethics Society and Cognixion are hosting a special 1-day conference on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. Experts from industry, academia and legal professions will come together to discuss the social and ethical implications of neurotechnology relating to health, crime, and civil and disability rights. Find out what the future holds for neurotechnology.

Neurotechnology is advancing at an astonishing pace which will bring massive benefits to people disadvantaged by disease, disability or injury. But where we rely on neurotechnology to enable communication, the stakes are high.

  • How will the implantable devices be personalized for the user?
  • How can employers prepare for an employee doing their job with the help of neurotechnology, and how will this affect the employee’s rights?
  • Could neurotechnology be misused, or used for criminal activity? If so, how?

This event will explore the implications of neurotechnology in issues such as:

  • Law
  • Life planning
  • Disclosure of abuse
  • Consent
  • Medical assistance in dying

The event will be of particular interest to:

  • Neurotechnology industry professionals
  • Neuroscientists and neurologists
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Lawyers and lawmakers
  • Civil and disability rights professionals
  • Ethicists and philosophers

Share the meeting flyer with colleagues and students.

flyer view


Registration and Coffee (8:30–9:30 AM)


9:30–9:40 AM


Conference Co-Chairs

  • Jennifer Chandler, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON)
  • Judy Illes, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
  • Tom Ladd, Cognixion (Toronto, ON)


9:40–10:55 AM

Health, Research, and Medical and Home Care


Break (10:55–11:15 AM)


11:15 AM–12:30 PM

Criminal Law


12:30–1:15 PM

Working Lunch


1:15–2:30 PM

Civil and Disability Rights

  • Opening remarks by moderator Deanna Groetzinger, Neurological Health Charities Canada
  • Introductory talk on 'Re-imagining Disability Rights at the Interface with Neurotechnology' by Michael Bach, IRIS (Toronto, ON)
  • Response from Matthew Sample, McGill University (Montreal, QB)
  • Response from Daniel Buchman, University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
  • Open discussion
  • Summary and conclusions by moderator


Break (2:30–2:50 PM)


2:50–4:05 PM

Future of Neurotechnology


4:05–5:00 PM

Publication Planning

  • Judy Illes and Jennifer Chandler


End of Meeting (5:00 PM)

Talk Details

Health, Research, and Medical and Home Care

Image of Nir Lipsman

Neurotechnology and Communication: Perspectives from Clinical Neurosurgery and Research in Neuromodulation

Nir Lipsman, Sunnybrook Research Institute

Neurotechnology, from imaging to brain implants, is ushering in a new age of communication with patients. Whether aiding physical mobility and memory with brain stimulation, or permitting access to thoughts and desires otherwise locked-in, it is tempting to consider technology to enhance communication as good. This presentation expanded on the interface between technology and communication in the clinical and research setting, and help to identify the ethical and broader implications of a science of enhanced communication.


Criminal Law

Image of Jennifer Chandler

Legally-Significant Communication – Consent, Harmful Speech and Witnesses

Jennifer Chandler, University of Ottawa

Communication is at the heart of many aspects of the criminal law and procedure. The communication of consent can transform what might otherwise be a criminal interference with a person’s body into a permissible action. Certain types of statements may themselves constitute crimes, and testimonial capacity depends not just on cognitive capacity but also the ability to communicate. As neurotechnology-mediated forms of communication develop, the law will need to confront their use in contexts with potential implications for criminal justice.


Image of Michael Bach

Civil and Disability Rights

Re-imagining Disability Rights at the Interface with Neurotechnology

Michael Bach, IRIS

The 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is said to have introduced a new paradigm in disability rights.  Neurotechnology for human cognitive enhancements has developed apace, radically expanding the scope of human possibility and interaction.  This presentation explored the visions of what it means to be human in these parallel developments. Do they reinforce a version of human agency grounded on cognitive ability? Can a conversation at their nexus open to a re-imagination of what it means to be human?


Future of Neurotechnology

Image of Ana Maiques

The Present and Future of Neurotech: Helping Patients Today and Changing the Way Humans Will Evolve

Ana Maiques, Neuroelectrics

In her talk, Ana Maiques described how novel neurotechnologies such as EEG and non-invasive brain stimulation are helping patients today. The experience of Neuroelectrics in both research as well as clinical field will be described with some supportive data in helping patients in epilepsy or neurodegenerative diseases. Beyond medical applications, the potential to read and write non-invasively directly on the brain opens applications in fields like brain computer interfaces, brain enhancement or emotion recognition will radically transform human evolution in which we may call the cognitive evolution. Bringing forward ethical issues now is going to be key in the way the technologies are applied and adopted sooner that we think.

About the Organizers

The International Neuroethics Society is an interdisciplinary group of scholars, scientists, clinicians, and other professionals dedicated to encouraging and inspiring research and dialogue on the responsible use of advances in brain science. Practitioners from a wide range of disciplines join the Society to interact, learn, and participate in critical neuroethics discussions that further this growing field.

Cognixion is a mission-driven company aiming to unlock speech for hundreds of millions of people worldwide affected by communication disabilities. By providing affordable and accessible technologies that are powered by artificial intelligence, the world will look and feel very different in the next decade.