Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is ready to begin testing its product on humans after alleged burning through 1,500 test animals that all died as a result of the implants (which the Department of Agriculture investigated, then later gave the company an exemption to continue the experiments). Musk claims the test animals, monkeys, were all terminally ill, which is why they were chosen.
The product is ostensibly designed to help people overcome neurological disorders, including to help paralyzed people one day eventually walk again (by controlling machines with their thoughts that would then move their limbs). The company is looking for humans that are either quadriplegic or are suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
The company’s blog said of the product, “The PRIME Study (short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) – a groundbreaking investigational medical device trial for our fully-implantable, wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) – aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.”
This product is designed to help people who have, for a variety of reasons, lost control of their muscles. The product will help them use thoughts to control computers which could control machines that could do anything from communicating with others to moving limbs. The study would last for 6 years.
More from the blog about the study intended to use humans, “During the study, the R1 Robot will be used to surgically place the N1 Implant’s ultra-fine and flexible threads in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. Once in place, the N1 Implant is cosmetically invisible and is intended to record and transmit brain signals wirelessly to an app that decodes movement intention. The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.”
The device does connect to an external device, an app, so at the very least it connects to an intranet and could just as easily then be connected to an internet as well. It could also be used to let the user control computers with just a thought, so the mute might one day “speak”, or you might one day be able to play video games by “thinking,” giving you an advantage against the online normie gaming competitors that might be using their hands to play against you (which would be SOOOO 2023, amirite?).
Like our story on the artificial womb, we have a product that in and of itself could be a life-saving game changer for thousands of people, but it could also lead to devices that go far beyond aiding the paralyzed and neurologically damaged people to still be able to function as close to normal as possible, leading to all kinds of ethical and moral issues for society to wrestle over.
This writer is not in favor of the so-called singularity, where man and machine merge, but I am not opposed to using machines to augment human flourishing. Implanting your brain with a device that can be potentially hacked from the outside, however, seems to be loaded with risks this writer might be loathe to take. But if I were paralyzed, the risk might be outweighed by the potential increase in quality of life.
Would you, for instance, take the implant if it meant augmenting your intelligence and your drive so you can function like a driven genius, especially if everyone else around you was doing it? That might not be such an easy question to answer, but it’s one that might be worth asking now before we go too far down this brain implant path.
The dystopian nightmares that could flow from such devices might be great sci-fi movies, but they also might just be nightmares for a world living out the consequences on humanity such devices might create.