Elon Musk’s sci-fi-esque plan to build a brain implant seems like it has some legs after successful trials on monkeys and pigs.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is set to begin human trials to test the brain microchips designed by the firm. According to Musk, the implants “will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs.”
The human trials are pending approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, but if that goes through, the testing could begin as soon as next year.
The microchips use brain activity to “predict the direction and speed of an upcoming or intended movement.” Unless you’re a neuroscientist it’s quite technical, but this video explains it pretty well.
“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,” the billionaire said.
It’s an exciting premise, but experts are worried that the microchips could cause an ethical nightmare. The concerns are based on the possibility of hackers being able to access information directly from someone’s brain.
It’s unknown whether this will actually be possible, but that’s the issue. We probably won’t know until it’s too late.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) expert, Allen Coin has warned, “We think that this is because these BCI technologies are generally envisioned as being implants, which means the device would effectively be a permanent– or semi-permanent– change, or even an extension, to a person’s mind. These aren’t drugs that wear off. They’re there to stay.”
So next time the group chat is going off and the conversation moves on before you can type out that genius one-liner, appreciate that moment because it won’t be long before your brain is shooting out text messages faster than the disclaimer on an insurance ad.