About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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November 14, 2003

Selling Your Mind?

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Jonathon Keats, a San Francisco Artist, recently sold a futures contract on his mind. Here is how it worked, he filed with the United States Copyright Office for intellectual property protection on his mind.

Because Title 17 of the United States Code stipulates that copyright "endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death", experts have calculated that Jonathon Keats's mind will survive, legally speaking, for precisely seven decades after his body stops working. In order to exploit this opportunity, he will transfer all intellectual property rights to the Jonathon Keats Holding Company immediately upon his death. Operating expenses for the Holding Company will be covered by the sale of Keats's brain.

On October 23rd, aninitial public offering of futures contracts on his brain sold options on an unexpected 71,000,000 neurons. At a strike price of one cent per unit, those contracts alone could net $710,000, upon the artist's death, enough money, some believe, to fund his recently-declared bid for immortality, an enterprise described in this prospectus.

As part of the due diligence process Keats visited the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California at San Francisco, where he had functional MRIs done on his brain while he sat thinking about art, truth and beauty. The 45 resulting pictures of Keats' brain were on the walls of the gallery, in part to assure potential investors that they are making a solid financial decision.

Investors included neurologists, economists and roboticists. One speculator, Jeremiah Benjamin Stewart of Oakland, CA, even made a $10 profit when he resold a contract for 1,000,000 neurons to George Coates of Berkeley, CA for $20 (plus the Board of Trade's 10 percent transfer fee). As the neurons optioned thus far represent a mere 1.18 percent of the 6 billion available, active trading at Modernism is expected to continue for at least the next several decades.

I wonder what the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics and fellow Corante Copyfight blogger Donna Wentworth thinks of this?

Thanks to Craig for pointing this out.

Comments (1) | Category: Neuromarketing


1. Donna Wentworth on November 14, 2003 6:11 PM writes...

I blathered, quite convincingly, here:,1284,60757-2,00.html

Actually, I appreciate the work--it's terrific for the same reason that is: it makes you think. And perhaps just as important, laugh.

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