Press release:

Neuroscience and Ethics to be Explained by Stanford Professor on March 12 at Cal Poly
Issues include prediction, mind-reading, responsibility, consciousness, and more

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – February 25, 2010 – The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly today announced the next talk in its Technology & Ethics Lecture Series. Stanford Law Professor Hank Greely will deliver an invited lecture entitled “Neuroscience: Scientific Revolutions, Social Challenges” on Friday, March 12, 2:00-3:30p in Building 06-124 (Philips Hall, next to PAC) at Cal Poly.

Neuroscience is a rapidly developing area of research, unlocking the mysteries of the human mind. But while it helps us answer age-old questions, it also raises new ones questions, such as: Do we have free will—if not, can we really be responsible for our actions? Can brain scans tell whether a person is likely to act criminally—if so, what should we do about it? Can brain scans show when a witness is lying? What colors, sounds, or smells make a consumer more likely to buy—is it ethical to use those and other subconscious triggers in marketing?

Professor Greely will focus on six areas in which neuroscience will challenge society: prediction, mind-reading, responsibility, consciousness, treatment, and enhancement. In doing so, he will provide an introduction to the new and burgeoning study of “neuroethics”—the ethical, legal, and social implications of neuroscience.

“Professor Greely works on the leading edge of the field, so his talk is a unique opportunity for our community to learn about neuroethics straight from the source,” said Dr. Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Science Group and assistant philosophy professor at Cal Poly. “Like so many new technologies, neuroscience can offer tremendous benefits to society—such as finding medical cures, to start with— but it also seems to hold the potential for abuse and misuse, which is why it’s important to understand the issues.”

At Stanford University, Professor Hank Greely is the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law, as well as Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences, among other positions. He is chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee and a co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Active in university leadership, Professor Greely chairs the steering committee for the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and directs both the law school’s Center for Law and the Biosciences and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics’ Program in Neuroethics.

Based at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group is a non-partisan research and educational organization focused on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of emerging technologies. Current projects and interests are related to issues in robotics, human enhancement, nanotechnology, space development, and other areas. Please visit us at or


Patrick Lin, Ph.D., Director
palin [at]

Copyright © Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group
All trademarks, logos and images are the property of their respective owners.