PROFESSOR RAFAEL YUSTE
Neuroscientist exploring the ethics of neural identity
Professor Rafael Yuste is contributing to a seminal paradigm shift in neuroscience, and is a leader in exploring the ethical consequences emerging from the confluence of neurotechnology and artificial intelligence.In selecting Yuste, the jury not only recognized his vision and leadership within the scientific community, but his deep commitment to promoting a global conversation about the ethical implications of rapidly accelerating neuro-technology. His work to bring together diverse thinkers in neuroscience, philosophy, law, industry and elsewhere to develop new thinking about “neuro rights” is critical to our future.Rafael is Professor of Biological Sciences and Neurosciences at Columbia University, New York. A Spanish-American neurobiologist, he is one of the initiators of BRAINI. Launched in 2013, the goal of this multidisciplinary, U.S. government funded initiative is to transform the study of the brain with the development of radically more powerful recording technologies using novel physics and engineering, deeply integrated with theory. This initiative has spawned an important series of global counterparts.Born in Madrid, Rafael originally trained as a medical doctor, later shifting to neuroscience (Rockefeller University) and physics (Bell Labs). This unusual multidisciplinary background contributed to the concept that eventually underpinned BRAINI and also underpins his more recent focus on the intersection of neuroscience and AI.
A Tällberg conversation, September 2018
BRAINI is now well established, well funded and widely imitated. How did it start?
How has your focus shifted since then?
What are the implications?
If you think about that scenario, then it’s really is very, very profound and serious. If you think that computers have revolutionized society, well wait until they merge with neuroscience. That’s going to affect the core of what it means to be human. Things like our own identity, it’s up for grabs. Our agency, our freewill, the ability for us to actually make our own decisions.
How immediate are these issues?
What should be done - and who should do it?
Professor Rafael Yuste's Bio
Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist, is Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. He studies the function and pathology of the cerebral cortex, using optical methods to measure and modify the activity of its neural circuits.
Yuste obtained his M.D. at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid. After working in Sydney Brenner’s laboratory at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, he was a Ph.D. student with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University, and postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Laboratories. He joined Columbia in 1996 and is currently director of its Neurotechnology Center and co-director of its Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits.
In 2011 Yuste led a small group of researchers who proposed the Brain Activity Map, precursor to the US BRAIN Initiative, and in 2016 he helped coordinate the launch of an International BRAIN Initiative. He is presently involved in establishing ethical guidelines for Neurotechnology and Artificial Intelligence (“NeuroRights”).
Yuste has obtained awards from the Mayor of New York City, the Society for Neuroscience and the Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He is a member of Spain’s Royal Academies of Medicine and of Science.