Neurorights in Chile: Where do we come from and where are we going?
María Isabel Cornejo Plaza

In 2020, a bill was presented in Chile to reform Article 1 of the Political Constitution of the Republic by including a clear recognition of the neurorights proposals by Rafael Yuste, Sara Goering, Marcello Ienca, and Roberto Andorno, among others. That is, the Political Constitution positivizes new emerging human rights in light of the ethical and normative challenges raised by neurotechnology. Furthermore, two other bills continue their discussion in the National Congress, one of them on the regulation of neurotechnologies and the other on the regulation of large digital platforms that use artificial intelligence and impact cognitive freedom, mental privacy, free will, etc.

Certainly, these are complex issues, which need various perspectives to cover the phenomena of the fourth digital revolution. This is the reason why an interdisciplinary work is required, without any “epistemic arrogance” involved. It is not enough to know the comparative legislation regarding phenomena that have never occurred before in history, but it is also necessary to think prospectively and globally on how we can continue protecting human dignity against the disruptive uses of new technologies. Science is not possible without humanities nor is thinking without data.

The enshrinement of neurorights in the Chilean Constitution depends on an exit plebiscite to be held this year 2022. This exit plebiscite presents us with three possible scenarios: (1) the new constitution is approved and neurorights are also included in it; (2) the new constitutional text is approved but neurorights are not enshrined; and (3) the new text is rejected but the old one, which contains an enshrinement of neurorights, remains in force. This instance is important because of the precedent of the reform to Article 1 of our current constitution. If the plebiscite approves a text without recognition of neurorights, this will entail a legislative dissonance to which we will have to attend, interpreting its causes.

The ideal scenario for me would be that the text of the new constitution proposed by the conventions enshrines neurorights. This would indicate that there is a real thinking about a constitution that looks to the future, and also that it has a high legitimacy since the current constitution (1) had its origin in the military dictatorship of Pinochet and (2) enshrines an economic model that is in question nowadays. Therefore, a new constitution originated in citizens’ desire to think about the Chile of the future, approved by a large majority, is likely to grant stability, legitimacy, social cohesion, and political and legal effectiveness.

María Isabel Cornejo Plaza has a B.A. in Legal and Social Sciences (Universidad de Chile, 2006), a M.A. in Private Law (Universidad de Chile, 2014), and a Ph.D. in Law (Universidad de Chile, 2021). She was a visiting professor at the Rights and​ Science Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy (2016), and also did a doctoral internship at the UEHIRO Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford (2018). She is currently a full time professor-researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Chile and teaches courses on Civil Law, Philosophical Foundations of Law, and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. She permanently serves as an advisor for the Commission of Challenges of the Future, Science, Technology, and Innovation of the Senate of Chile, especially in the projects on Digital Platforms (bulletin No. 14.5461-19) and the protection of Neurorights and Mental Integrity (bulletin No. 13.828-19).​