Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has been working on a brain-computer interface chip through his company Neuralink, which could move into human trials this year.
Neuralink was founded in 2016 by Musk and has had the primary goal of inventing technology that could improve the lives of many with conditions such as paralysis. Their most recent project, the brain-computer interface chip, is built to connect neurons in the brain to a device they call “the Link” to record brain activity. This would allow people to control technology such as phones or computers with nothing but their thoughts.
According to a Reuters article from early April 2021, a monkey who was a part of a Neuralink trial was able to play a simple video game with the implant. The monkey, playing a game of pong, seemed to be using the joystick to move the paddles, however, the Neuralink team had unplugged the controller from the console. The monkey was able to control the movements of the game solely through thinking about where he was moving his hands.
While this groundbreaking technology is exciting and could have great impacts on people with serious conditions, many questions come along with it. Is this device safe? What are the risks involved with inserting a piece of technology into your brain? Is there a security concern with this type of technology?
Because Neuralink has not started human trials, there is no information on how the device will actually affect a human brain, however, they make it clear that safety is a number one concern. The website also breaks down how the device will remain secure including, security measures on every level of the device and extensive cryptography.
Although Neuralink has good intentions, a piece of technology implanted in a human brain could lead to any number of potentially harmful side effects. If security is not as tight as they hoped, hackers having access to one’s thoughts is a troubling idea seemingly out of a Black Mirror episode. If a hacker was able to infiltrate the device, there really is no telling what they would have access to or what they would be able to control. Additionally, a device in the brain could perhaps lead to overstimulation and end up causing more harm than good.
While the device is still undergoing trials and many questions have yet to receive answers, this is definitely a unique and potentially life-changing piece of tech that could become mainstream in the next decade. Whether it is ethical or secure remains somewhat of a mystery, but no one can deny that it will be exciting to see where Neuralink takes their innovation in technology.
“Engineering with the Brain.” Neuralink, neuralink.com/.
“Elon Musk's Neuralink Shows Monkey with Brain-Chip Playing Videogame by Thinking.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 9 Apr. 2021, www.reuters.com/technology/elon-musks-neuralink-shows-monkey-with-brain-chip-playing-videogame-by-thinking-2021-04-09/.