Have you ever dreamed of possessing a science-fiction character’s powers? For instance, the ability to memorize anything by just uploading the information into your brain just like Neo from the Matrix? While this may seem like a far-fetched dream, thanks to rapid scientific advancements, our limited human abilities seem to have new horizons. Without realizing it, we are on the verge of transitioning into a world we are not ready for.
With a tiny microchip in the brain and a quick thought that comes to mind, modern nanotechnological developments such as Neuralink enable us to have full control over our body. By interpreting neuronal signaling and decoding neural activity, these microchips can convert our thoughts into actions . Sounds simple, right? Being able to work out just by thinking about it? Neuralink has got you! But is this what we want our future to look like? Let’s take a pause and understand where our blind-trust in science is guiding us.
Co-founded in 2016 by Elon Musk, Neuralink's original purpose was to treat neurological disorders like spinal cord injuries and Parkinson’s Disease . However, it seems that this new avant-garde science is now pivoting towards a human enhancement technology. A recent survey by the Roper Center suggests that most Americans are, in fact, sensing the danger of these scientific developments. In 2019, more than half of the participants (53%) believed that scientific developments have equal positive and negative outcomes .
By merging biological intelligence with artificial intelligence, Neuralink is clearly elevating the human species into a trans-human species. As its use expands, this science is developing faster than our ability to understand it . While this technology may be legal and scientifically approved, it still has to pass the ethical, moral, and safety test. Because of Neuralink’s overall procedure and potentiality to create social inequalities between members of a society, we must draw a line between what “should” exist and what “can” exist.
The idea of inserting a microchip inside the skull might fascinate some, but it is clearly dramatized to look like individuals walking around with thousands of wires inside their brains. Yet while it may sound like a science-fiction movie, it could be our near future.
The problem does not stop there. Another moral consideration is the disproportionate access to this technology. Just like any other neurosurgery, the implant seems to be reserved to people who are able to pay for it . Because only a certain branch of society will be able to afford this transplantation, some individuals will outperform others in terms of mental and physical abilities. Social discrimination will not only be based on race, ethnicity, and gender, but also on the differences between biological and bionic brains. Are you ready to live in a society growing at two different rates?
Being an algorithm-based technology, it is clear that microchips possess the characteristics of any computer or software: the ability to read, translate, and generate information . And just like all technologies, they too can be hacked . But in this case, it is not a simple file or document being scammed, it is the flow of your thoughts! Can you imagine someone hacking your brain? As soon as the microchip enters your brain, this scenario is likely to become possible. Are you ready to jeopardize your brain’s safety?
While he has quite literally proven to us that the Moon is his limit, it seems that Musk's excellency in many domains helped him maintain a prestigious and influential position. As the Elite Cues Hypothesis  suggests, Elon Musk is regarded, by many, as a source of accuracy which explains the blind-trust in his innovations. However, is he the one to trust in the neuroscientific context? Are we hyped-up because of the technology itself or because it’s Elon Musk’s idea? With this, the big question remains: are we ready for this type of scientific development? The answer is yours.
John, C. (2020, July 24). Neuralink explained: How we will talk to machines using our brain.TheQuint. https://www.thequint.com/explainers/what-is-neuralink-and-how-does-it-work-explained
Skylis, M. B., Garynew, Moderator, M. M., Moderator, T. D., & Secretsquirrel. (n.d.). Could Elon Musk's latest business venture impact Parkinson's? https://parkinsonsdisease.net/news/elon-musk-neuralink
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. (2019). Pew Research Center: October 2019 International Science Survey (Version 1) [Dataset]. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. doi:https://doi.org/10.25940/ROPER-31117996
Markou, C. (2017, May 3). Neuralink wants to wire your brain to the internet--what could possibly go wrong? Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neuralink-wants-to-wire-your-brain-to-the-internet-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/
Pd, Harding, C., & Phone, P. (2022, March 2). Can Elon Musk's Neuralink be hacked? Elon Musk Neuralink. https://elonmuskneuralink.com/can-elon-musks-neuralink-be-hacked/
Lewkowicz, M. A. (2006). The Effectiveness of Elite Cues as Heuristics in Proposition Elections. American Politics Research, 34(1), 51–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/1532673X05276510