Nita A. Farahany
Director of Duke Science & Society, Professor of Law & Philosophy, Biotech Leader and TED Speaker
Nita A. Farahany
Nita A. Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of biosciences and emerging technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience and behavioral genetics. She is the Director of Duke Science & Society, the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy, and a Professor of Law & Philosophy.
In 2010, Farahany was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and continues to serve as a member. Her recent scholarship includes "Searching Secrets," 160 U. Penn. L. Rev. 1239 (2012) which explores the descriptive potential of intellectual property law as a metaphor to describe current Fourth Amendment search and seizure law and predict how the Fourth Amendment will apply to emerging technology. A related article, "Incriminating Thoughts," 64 Stanford Law Review 351 (2012) demonstrates through modern neuroscience applications the need to redefine the taxonomy of evidence subject to the privilege against self-incrimination. She also is the editor of The Impact of Behavioral Sciences on Criminal Law (Oxford University Press), a book of essays from experts in science, law, philosophy, and policy.
Farahany presents her work widely including to audiences at the Judicial Conferences for the Second and Ninth Circuits, the National Judicial College, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academies of Science Workshops, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers, the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, and by testifying before Congress. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools , on the Board of the International Neuroethics Society, and the recipient of the 2013 Paul M. Bator award given annually to an outstanding legal academic under 40.
She received her AB in genetics, cell, and developmental biology at Dartmouth College, a JD and MA from Duke University, as well as a PhD in philosophy; her dissertation was entitled "Rediscovering Criminal Responsibility through Behavioral Genetics." Farahany also holds an ALM in biology from Harvard University. In 2004-2005, Farahany clerked for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, after which she joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University. In 2011, Farahany was the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Stanford Law School.
Nita A. Farahany
Featured Keynote Programs
ChatGPT and Your Brain
Changing How We Think About Thinking
“Using ChatGPT isn’t cheating,” says Nita Farahany. “It isn’t unlike the seismic shifts in thinking that we’ve had when the calculator was introduced.” As a leading expert on neurotechnology and author of The Battle for Your Brain, Nita says that we just need to adjust how we think about thinking, and start learning how to ask the right questions. She shows how we can teach the next generation the fundamentals of writing, research, and the foundational elements of art so that we can start to use this technology effectively. Through this, we can create critical thinkers who are aware of what they create, and develop a future where humans and technology collaborate and augment one another.
Technology That Reads Minds
Motivation, Not Regulation in the Workplace
As a summer law associate, Nita Farahany was advised to “never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to see on the cover of The New York Times.” But what if that advice extended to not even thinking about anything that you wouldn’t want splashed all over page one? In this cutting-edge, compelling talk, Farahany shows audiences why we must ask these questions, as consumer EEGs and neurofeedback devices are becoming increasingly available and utilized in the workplace. What does this mean for society? Not just tracking what employees’ hands are doing, but what their mental and emotional experiences throughout the day are like?
Farahany argues that this type of usage will significantly decrease morale, creativity, and the ability to experiment—all the things that are essential to innovation and happiness. We can integrate devices into the workplace, but with limits in place. What rights does an individual have? We must decide what we as a society want our livelihoods and our lives to look like. We must recognize that employee productivity is also about respecting the individual, celebrating the autonomy of our employees and ourselves, not just for the individual, but for our societies. If we want workplace productivity, we need to figure out ways to motivate, not just regulate, says Farahany.