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Two Questions for Lucy Tournas

Lucy Nalbach Tournas has a J.D from Arizona State University, with certificates in

Biotechnology and the Law, Big Data and Privacy, and Health Law. She has contributed

academic journal articles, book chapters, commentaries, and public interest pieces on

the intersection of law, politics, and emerging technologies. Lucy visited us last week to

talk about neurotechnology governance. See her answers to our two questions below.

1- What led you to focus on neurotechnology governance? 

With a background in philosophy, I entered Law School knowing I wanted to

focus on law and emerging technologies. I worked on bioethics, medical

advances, and political philosophy for my Bachelors. My original plan was to go

directly into law, but I went into business instead. While I really wanted a legal

education, I didn't want to practice law, and taking the time to work was

tremendously helpful. As I started a family, I found myself grappling with many of

the issues I was so passionate about earlier in academia in my personal life

because my eldest daughter was a micro-preemie and had cerebral palsy. Once

she was doing well, I decided to go back to law school. I chose ASU in part to

work with my now mentor, Gary Marchant. In law school, I worked on several

projects, including a law review on health span drug regulation and a working

document for the OECD on CRISPR-Cas 9. I finished law school with certificates

in biotechnology and the law, big data and privacy, and health law, and received

the Strauss prize for excellence in law, science, and innovation." After law

school I worked as a postdoc fellow on a project for WEF on personalized

medicine. But my passion was Neurotechnology. During my second year I

started writing on BCIs (Brain Computer Interfaces) which combine many of my

professional and personal passions into one technology. I still approach

neurotechnologies with the lens that it really is a technology of many digital

technologies, i.e., AI and big data, but in a much more powerful scope. I realized

governance and international coordination would require more work, so I began

my Ph.D. focusing on governance, comparative law, and political economics of

neurotechnologies. I have written a number of articles and chapters that I am

happy to share if anyone is interested.  

2- What two words come to mind when you think of neurotechnology self-


When I think of neurotech self-regulation, I think of the words “market disruption”.

I think there is a lot of hope in self-regulation and it supports a very American

way to lead in innovation, but self-regulation as a concept really developed

around biotechnologies. This is significant, as the regulatory and legal schemes

look different than in digital technologies. There have been many market

changes to traditional theory here and much of my work focuses on exposing

those assumptions in order to build better tools. I am hopeful, but I think right

now better knowledge of the system itself is needed.

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