Transhumanism with Reach: Neuralink Readies Brain Chips for Human Trials
For the avid gamers out there, Elon Musk’s plan to develop brain chips that allow for the integration of artificial intelligence and the human brain would not sound too far-fetched. The technology was explored in Cyberpunk 2077, a game released by CD Projekt in December 2020. Plans to develop brain implant technology by Neuralink, a neurotech startup co-founded by Musk, sounds eerily similar.
While much of its work has been shrouded in secrecy, Neuralink scientists unveiled the technology they had been working on. During a live presentation in 2019, the team showed off three systems that would make up the prototype: an ultra-thin probe, a neurosurgical robot, and an electronic system capable of interpreting neurological signals.
Latest reports suggest that since then major advancements have been made. According to the Guardian, Neuralink is working on technology that could change mankind’s future. Brain chips developed by the company are reportedly being prepared for clinical trials on humans.
Understandably, there has been a huge hue and cry being raised about the ethics involved. Elon Musk has sought to allay fears by stating that the brain chips developed by Neuralink would “allow someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using their thumbs.” While the morality of the proposed clinical trials is certainly a bone of contention, one cannot deny the benefits of such a technology.
The development of a brain chip that allows paraplegics and differently-abled people to live like the rest of us is a breakthrough indeed. The possibilities are endless indeed! Just last April, Neuralink demonstrated the potential of its technology, where a monkey with a Neuralink chip installed played the game “Pong”. The demonstration reassured many doubters and did much to portray the company in a favorable light.
Neuralink’s chips would initially be used to treat paralysis or paraplegia according to Dr. Matthew MacDougall, the company’s head surgeon. This would set the stage for more complex technology, say implants that could treat neural disorders, which aligns with the company’s aim to eventually reach “human enhancement” or “transhumanism”.
Elon Musk has repeatedly staked his reputation on the company’s ships. “I think we have a chance with Neuralink to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a spinal cord injury. Neuralink’s working well in monkeys, and we’re actually doing just a lot of testing and just confirming that it’s very safe and reliable and the Neuralink device can be removed safely,” he opined.
There is no doubt that Neuralink’s brain chips can benefit mankind. That being said, one needs to remember that technological innovations are a slippery slope. All it takes is one mistake or an accident to send us hurtling towards our doom.